Creating Ambience in your Home

Are you familiar with the good feeling when you finally got home from a long day?

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What’s the aura of your home?

You open the windows and soak the view outside and after kicking your shoes, you lounge in your favorite chair. The familiar scent of your home fills your nostrils. You breathe in and the feeling of sense of belonging…the relaxed feeling, the calmness, right in your cozy own place. Even the taste of your home- made tea , your own favorite mug, the flavor is different from the ones you buy from cafes. It’s all about personal space. I am self-confessed homemaker and for me, creating an aura, a cozy atmosphere in my own place is very important.

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A corner  in our kitchen where we have soothing views of the garden and  ample natural light

Just like style, I believe that creating your own ambience is totally personal. I love it when a simple detail can enhance the overall feel of a room. Be it a lamp shade, a picture frame or a vase full of flowers, it doesn’t matter, the effect always affects your mood. That is why I am a fan of neutral colors and natural lighting from the sun. This is why I love our new home here where we have large windows & doors made of glass.In Germany, curtains are almost rare, totally opposite from the norms in Kuwait where dark,patterned heavy curtains are essential because of the harsh sun.

I can’t claim our home to be completely minimalist ,but it’s almost livable even without the technology disturbances. This works for me since I have a 2 year old kid, where de-cluttering with tons of baby stuff and toys is almost impossible to achieve. Not at the moment. So by keeping things less, it’s less stressful,more appealing and most important –Easy to clean

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A Corner of fond memories of travel and Expat life
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A bathroom with the calmness of greens.It’s only here in Germany where bathroom windows are placed directly facing main streets.

Having an active toddler ushered us to live in simplicity. With the daily chaos and noise from playing, screaming &  running, we’ve been trying as much as possible to bring in the calmness by putting more green plants, keeping our ornaments and decorations to minimum, and keeping our furniture simple and natural. Truly, less becomes more.

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How to create homes with an Ambience .

Our kitchen has the most amazing natural light and I love the views I have when I’m cooking. I watched the sun rises & sets here while I do the dishes,listen to the raindrops, the swaying of the trees, and now, the magical snowfall. Most of the pieces we keep have a sentimental value and putting them in the right places draws us to fond memories of our Expat life.

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What’s the aura of your home?

Ambience is the feeling that you’re creating in which ever place you’re in. Either it has been created by others for you, or self-imposed, you allow that feeling to manifest in your system and to others. As for me, the best ambience to languish is the one coming from your own home. Nevermind the noise, the clutter and the mess–because really, there’s no place like home.

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Our garden in complete whiteness of snow

What about you, what do you think is the impression that others get from your home?

This post is in response to this week’s WP Photo Challenge |Ambience

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Solar Eclipse in our Living Room!

Have you ever witnessed a Solar Eclipse?

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* 1999 Solar Eclipse viewed in Salzburg,Austria  (Photo Credit to my amazing Dutchie  Husband)

I did, but I was too young to document or even photographed it. I remember in grade school that we are advised to wear dark sunglasses and spread ourselves outside to watch a solar eclipse.Then we need to write something about it just how we have seen it. I grew up in South Pacific area where there are notably numbers of Solar eclipses have been visible. It was a great childhood memory.

An eclipse is a natural phenomenon. Nevertheless, in some ancient and modern cultures, solar eclipses have been attributed to supernatural causes or regarded as bad omens. A total solar eclipse can be frightening to people who are unaware of its astronomical explanation, as the Sun seems to disappear during the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes.I remember that when I was small, we have stories that monsters appears during Eclipses!!

My husband spent his holidays mostly in Austria. Other than skiing, He just enjoy it there and a pure wanderer. On his vacation, it just happened that He was one fine lucky Dutchie who witnessed the Solar Eclipse in Salzburg, Austria last 1999 among thousands of tourists who flew over just for this event.

This is one of the most-viewed Solar Eclipse in the history !

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The DOM in Salzburg where reflection of the sun  can be seen during partial eclipse,1999,Salzburg Austria

It was the first total eclipse visible from Europe since 22 July 1990, and the first visible in the United Kingdom since 29 June 1927.It lasted of about 2 minutes and 23 seconds from Romania with the greatest Eclipse point.

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The view of the partly hidden sun in the walls of the cathedral. (Photo credits to my awesome Husband for capturing all these photos!)
The solar eclipse was seen in a central part of Europe, such as Southern Germany, Austria and further eastwards.
He chose to be going to Salzburg for that day, knowing that the solar  eclipse would be totally 100% visible there, unlike further north and south where the eclipse would be partial. Like many others , He was lucky enough to find a spot  on the bleachers in front of the Dom in Salzburg. The bleachers were placed for the annual ‘Festspiele’.
The weather that day started with some drizzle, but the time the eclipse was about to start, the sky was clear.Then the show begins.
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1999 Solar Eclipse (Photo credit to one lucky Dutchie)
During the time the eclipse was not yet 100%, it was possible to see the reflection of the partly hidden sun on the Dom, as it was not possible to look directly at this without special glasses, which are like extremely dark sunglasses. During the few minutes the eclipse was 100% is was possible to look at the ” WONDER” of seeing the
 Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks (“occults“) the Sun. This can happen only at new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.
Only for those who have been so lucky or fortunate to have seen a full solar eclipse can understand why people fly over the world to experience one. Sighs!
Indeed witnessing something as spectacular as this could change your view about astronomy, space, the earth and your own life.
This is indeed  one beautiful experience that is just worthy of remembering every now & then. In our new living room now hangs 4 of the fine shots of this wonderful event that would be remembered forever. My husband framed it and now we have a full view of it everyday!
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Framed memoirs of a Solar Eclipse ,Salzburg-Austria 1999
Do you like this idea? How do you keep your travel memories alive?
It’s still in my wish list to watch another Solar Eclipse like this with my daughter. I’m sure it’s going to be a great experience as well.
For those who wants to have this kind of experience, The next Solar Eclipse will be on August 21, 2017. The total solar eclipse will be visible from most locations in the United States. This eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse visible from contiguous United States since 1979.
You can check out Here to find out more.
Again, thank you for reading my friends!

Country Living, Are you still enamored?

Does the idea of living in a quiet, open spaces, beautiful serene landscapes, with a slower pace of life appeals to you?

Where privacy & tranquility has no cost, let alone it doesn’t come in a Spa!

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For years, I am always fascinated of the idea of seeing lots of country feel neighborhood. I always dreamed and strived in my own ways to always be close to nature. Here in Kuwait, my views every morning is the my neighboring flats & buildings. It’s a good thing at least that we have large windows in the living room where we have sea view & access to natural (yet so strong !) daylight. Every building has its own charisma, either with eclectic design or just its amusing lighting. City life is also good, It has its pros & cons naturally and  it makes you feel like you are on a fast-paced of life where technology and modern buildings makes your life appealing…but sometimes depressing.

Who wouldn’t want a daily dose of Vitamin G? “Vitamin G” stands for Greenery—trees and plants, which the country has in spades. Not merely pretty, they also come with serious benefits that science is just beginning to understand. Scientific studies have shown that when humans are deprived of greenery, they can suffer in a variety of significant ways.I was really fascinated when I have read that or instance, a study found that when humans spend even a few minutes on a crowded city street, their brain is less able to retain information or control impulses.

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But what about the idea of viewing vast acres or hectares of just pure greens around you? With the animals flocked freely grazing? That the chirping of birds is the normal music you hear instead of honking of cars?

The other night I was awakened by loud honking of cars. I knew it must be coming from the busy street just below our apartment. What on earth is happening? It is 2am in the morning! The odd thing about living within the busy streets with a mixed used complex is the outside noise that cannot be fixed by good acoustics in your building. There is a scientific study which  found out that residents of apartments with views of concrete/asphalt reported higher levels of aggression and violence than did their counterparts living in identical buildings with tree views.Personally, I would prefer a view of trees or gardens instead of a view of Satellite dish, roof tops, busy roads & parking area..let alone a garbage dump!

Have you’ve been inhaling clean, fresh air? or you are too busy to notice. There is something about healthy in country living. The air you breathe and its quality,  People living around more trees and grass generally experience lower levels of air pollution, which has been linked to conditions associated with asthma and heart disease. Well here in Kuwait, dust is something that has been a constant particulates in the air.

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One of the perks of country living is that a normal bike ride or just having a walk in the woods is like a trip to the Botanical Garden and Zoo. One time while Me & my daughter take a spin in the neighborhood, we see horses,ducks, roosters, chickens, goats, and rabbits! All happily grazing & hopping plus a sight of an old windmill that adds to a picturesque view.

There’s fewer psychological problems in living in rural areas. I have read from the articles and journals in the  Schizophrenia Bulletin, at least 10 studies have shown that people in urban areas are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. The available evidence suggests that more than one-third of all schizophrenia cases may be related to (or greatly exacerbated by) environmental factors in an urban setting.

Additional studies have shown that rural residents are less likely to have anxiety disorders. Scientists examined the prevalence of extreme anxiety in more than 345,000 residents of the Netherlands—male and female of all ages—and found substantially lower rates of disorders among those living in relatively green regions. In residential areas with 90% green space, the annual prevalence was 18 per 1,000; in areas with only 10% green space, the rate increased to 26 out of 1,000.The same study found that green environments can also relieve sadness and depression. This is  definitely something to smile about.

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The idea of growing your own food sounds good too. In the country you have the chance & ability to produce your own food. The food produce are fresh, and not loaded with preservatives. In the country, you can easy grow enough fruits and vegetables for own consumption.Most importantly is the low crime rate. It’s very unlikely that you will be mugged. Life in the country is much safer than in the city when it comes to crime which is virtually non-existent in the countryside. You can literally let your child loose and explore.

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What about you? what are your living preferences? Is country living appealing for you or you can’t be enamored by it?

Thanks and I would love to hear your thoughts.

50 shades of green smoothie for a Picky Toddler

 

My  super active  toddler is a picky eater. So as my husband. No kidding.Really.So what I had to do for them to get their veggies?

Simple Answer : GREEN SMOOTHIES

I love everything about healthy green smoothies. I’m talking about the pure, raw green,leafy , veggies & fruits smoothies that are packed with nutrients and vitamins and not the commercial smoothies that are loaded with creams & sugars. When I noticed that my daughter is a picky eater,  I tried almost everything just to get her appetite on track, especially eating healthy veggies. She’s fine with fruits.She’s eating them like a horse.But with veggies, she needed a boost. This is the reason why I had opt to green smoothies. This has become our new habit. What’s the bonus? The husband also enjoyed gulping a bottle.

A green smoothie is simply a smoothie or juiced from raw , fresh & natural green leafy  vegetables and fruits blended together . No added sugars or sweeteners. Pure nutrition & goodness. Milk & a good diet is till our top priority for my daughter, but getting her into smoothie is also a way to instill early good eating habits.

But why introduce green smoothies to a baby?

Because this stage is the perfect time for them to get into this. I want my baby & my family to be healthy at the same time their taste buds Happy.

I did my homework before introducing the green smoothie to my daughter. I don’t like to join the smoothie bandwagon just because its the trend or its the “In “. No, you need to make choices that has lifelong impacts. Health is one thing you don’t wanna compromise.

My daughter is sensitive & have a mild food allergy so until now, so I am really very careful of what food I offer to her. She loved it. We just make sure that we give it to her every other day in order not to pressure her tummy. As experts say that  children’s taste buds develop in the first 3 years of life so it’s best to take advantage of this time and offer a wide variety of healthy food choices. This helps to establish a taste bud-brain connection to different flavors and textures. Kale and other dark leafy green vegetables can have a strong flavor but are also great source of nutrients. The amazing chemicals in kale and other raw cruciferous vegetables assist in detoxification. In fact, Sulforophane in these dark leafy greens ramps up phase 2 detoxification in the liver, providing over 72 hours of protection from both environmentally and internally produced toxins. Considering that cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the US today, I think it’s very important to make sure that older babies and toddlers are receiving at least one small serving of raw cruciferous vegetables every one to two days.

I am really glad how she is taking it in and more than satisfied that my husband also loved it. It really helps me and eases my mind. Now I know why Green Smoothies made such a great buzz. Nowadays, you can see it everywhere. People are talking about it. It sounds Healthy. You know that It is Healthy. When I reflect on this, I,too  have made a goal for myself :

“Without good health, it’s hard to enjoy life. So I’m going to keep myself and my loved ones always healthy.”

What’s your health goal?

We have been into this for quite sometime & I’m telling you, it brings glow to us. Even if I’m always tired from daily out & about, I feel wonderful. Having a full glass of Green smoothie keeps me satiated. Since then, I have experienced dramatic improvements in health, energy and mental clarity by increasing my consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. I do look forward to our grocery shopping and spend more time looking for green veggies & lush fruits to include to our smoothie recipes.

My starter 50 SHADES of Green Smoothie :

  • Small bunch of spinach
  • A small bunch of kale
  • 1 piece medium size cucumber
  • 1 lemon (juice )
  • 1 tiny ginger root peeled & chopped
  • 2-3 cups of water /coconut juice
  • 1 green apple
  • 2  medium sized red apples

Blend all together in a Blender, pour into medium sized glass bottles, add a funky straw & there you go, a super packed-vitamins & delish Green Smoothie. Once you get the hang of it, you can experiment on so many varieties of fruits & veggies like Banana, mangoes,  and so much more depending on your personal taste. Do what works for you.

But before you try it for yourself, you need to know some precautions to avoid common mistakes. Here’s what I have learned from the Book “Green Smoothie Revolution ” by Victoria Boutenko. Here’s the excerpt .You can purchase this Here.

  • Prepare your green smoothie first thing in the morning in the amount that you usually consume in one day, one or two quarts (liters). Pour enough smoothie in a glass for your morning enjoyment and keep the rest in a refrigerator or another cold place.
  • Sip your green smoothie slowly, mixing it with saliva.
  • Don’t add anything to your smoothie except greens, fruit, and water. I don’t recommend adding nuts, seeds, oils, supplements or other ingredients to your green smoothie. Most of these items slow down the assimilation of green smoothies in your digestive tract and may cause irritation and gas. I encourage you to stick to the basic green smoothie recipe (fruit, greens, and water) in your daily routine.
  • Drink your smoothie by itself, and not as a part of a meal. Don’t consume anything, even as little as a cracker or candy with it. You may eat anything you want approximately 40 minutes before or 40 minutes after you finished your smoothie. Your goal is to get the most nutritional benefit out of your green smoothie.
  • Do not add starchy vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli stems, zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, egg plant, pumpkin, squash, okra, peas, corn, green beans, and others to your green smoothies. Starchy vegetables combine poorly with fruit and may produce what my children call “gas 4 less.”
  • Don’t add too many ingredients into one smoothie, such as nine different fruits and a dozen different greens. Try to keep most of your recipes simple to maximize nutritional benefits and to keep it easy on your digestive system.
  • Learn to prepare a really delicious green smoothie so that you are always looking forward to the next one. If your drink is not tasty, you will eventually discontinue consuming it.
  • Always rotate the green leaves that you add to your smoothies. Almost all greens in the world contain minute amounts of alkaloids. Tiny quantities of alkaloids cannot hurt you, and even strengthen the immune system. However, if you keep consuming kale, or spinach, or any other single green for many weeks without rotation, eventually the same type of alkaloids can accumulate in your body and cause unwanted symptoms of poisoning. Please note that you don’t have to rotate the fruit in your green smoothies. Most commonly used fruit have very little or none of the alkaloids and cannot cause the same toxic reactions as greens. At the same time, rotating fruits will enhance the variety of flavor and nutrition in your smoothies.
  • Choose organic produce whenever possible. The absence of pesticides and other toxic chemicals is only one of many benefits of organic food. The most important reason to consume organic food is the superior nutrition of organic fruits and vegetables in comparison to conventionally grown produce. We have been discussing earlier, how deficient most people are. The best way to nourish your body is to consume organic produce and whenever possible, locally grown. I consider it very important to get the fruit that was allowed to ripen on the vine because it is the best for nourishment. Tree-ripened fruit is several times more nutritious and when consumed shortly after picking retains significantly more nutrients.
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50 shades of Green ,Never Mean.
I want to encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity and flaunt that green drink like it’s a trendsetter. Why? Because it is. Health is the new wealth. Period.
Happy healthy-yummy-balanced smoothie sipping and chewing!

The World Carries On (Chronicles of Lessons from the Beach Pt.2)

“There are Far, far better things ahead of us than any we leave Behind ..” {C.S.Lewis}

Watching along the stretch of the Arabian Gulf gives me more & more beautiful insights everyday. One time while i was jogging along the seaside, I observed the whole stretch of the beach. This patch of the beach has a rocky part on the other side while the other part just after 100 meters have a supple white powdery sand shores, and when its low tide,  a lake-like formation in the shore appears. Just like a hidden Oasis. A lake WITHIN the beach. The patterns on the sand that the waves have created is a sight that i wanted to behold before the tides swept it away once again. This is one of the fascinating views i look forward every time i visit. Many times, i wanted to see if the small lake is there or if its hidden. It always give me the element of surprise in my beach encounters. I spent many hours just gazing at the azure blue waters glistening like diamonds against the sun   and realizing that the same beach who became  a  daily haven for Expats like me , is the same beach who suffered  trauma during the Gulf War in 1991.

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Arabian Gulf sand dunes

The Arabian Gulf gives us a tremendous inspiration of what is it like  to move forward in Life. It had overcome so much from the Oil spills during the Gulf war, it had its darkest hours, the deadly pollution that engulfed it, with roughly 13cm thickness of slick in some areas. It’s like a mask that hide its beauty. That was the time when the Arabian Gulf was cast down with gloom. If we could recall, it’s one of the Largest Oil Spills in our History since the Gulf war broke out in 1991.

A quick reminder for us of the deadly Gulf  War  after math that release a HUGE  1.5 billion barrels of oil into the environment,which is by far the largest oil spill in human history.

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Mesmerized by Arabian Gulf’s  sand patterns

The Arabian Gulf along with Kuwait have won on this struggle. It overcome those dark months.

Looking at the waters of Arabian Gulf now brings me a story of hope. Imagine how this beach looked like 25 years ago. While looking intently at the patterns I caught myself further looking forward and discovering new forms, new flow, and new explorations. It gives me discernment that some things are really  beyond my control. Sometimes it really pays off to just go with the flow. No matter how much I try to mold my life into something , there are things which  better be left on their own to transform. Whenever you felt like life had rejected you, after sometime you will realized that it just brought you to a better direction. I can testify on this one because It happened to me.

“What defines us is How we rise after we Fall “

As an Expat living in Kuwait for  many  years, many times I thought If I had made a huge mistake in my life for coming here. I had times I couldn’t sleep &  wanted to give up, resign from  my work & head on home. I am glad I stayed on. I would never ever imagined that my life would be so much better now than before. Seeing my daughter’s  happy face & wide smiles while we played in the shores of the Arabian Gulf gives me more joy than I ever deserved as a person &  as a mother. I have and would always treasure these moments.

See, Our character is being mold on how we respond when we are brought down. I am sure you knew the feeling of wanting to stop the time & giving up. It’s human nature. But picture this ; Have you noticed that no matter where you are, the world carries on? With or without you it goes on its round the clock rhytym. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The seasons laboriously changes through time. People grow old and new generation emerges. The world doesn’t stop just FOR YOU. Nature always do its own course. It has no stop- overs. It is autopilot. It always fascinates us, always brings enlightenment.

What is the hardest struggle you’ve been battling on right now?

Do you also find it hard to let go of your past & move on?

In case you do, Hang in there! I hope you find the right inspiration in your life to move on.

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Why do you need to own Less Clothes?

How many of you owns more than 7 pairs of Jeans ? and how many of those pairs do you wear regularly?How many of you owns couple of dozen of blouses ? and shirts ? or jackets ? Or do you have any piece of clothing that has been sitting in your wardrobe for so long that you actually forgot that you have it? Does it still have a price tag on it?

If you have new clothes that you bought since last year and haven’t worn yet, then you just Own too much clothes. Really! Toss it!

Have you taken a closer look at your closet ? What do you feel when you see those piles of clothing ? Do you have a hard time dressing up in the morning because you just cannot decide which one to wear ? If you would take an account of how much money you spent on your clothing, would it make a difference to how you feel if it could have been a chunk of your savings? These questions are all elementary and only you know and see how your wardrobe looks like .

Lately, this is the reason why I am so inspired by the thought behind Simplicity to create a Life. If you want to have big changes in your Life, you need to start making small changes. In your habits, lifestyle, & routines on a daily basis. Things doesn’t happen overnight. So i decided to have small steps, starting on one of our basic needs, Clothing.

We, as women are notorious on this . I know for most of us that shopping for clothes is a happy theraphy. In our mind,  we don’t need justification why we own too much clothes…well at least not until you really have a lifestyle check. If you really look deeper on it, owning less clothes doesnt mean that you will have a better life ,No. Its just mean that you can have focus on creating yourself a Life that is less complicated .

“We don’t remove the clutter, reduce the stress, and boycott the busyness to have a simple life. We do it to have a life.When you simplify your wardrobe, you have the freedom to wear clothes that fit you and your lifestyle.” -Courtney Carver of  Be More with Less

When we are constantly defeated by not being simple enough, or decluttered enough, we lose sight of what are really after.

Being Frugal doesn’t mean that you Own Less Clothes 

Do you really need to get the new arrival trends every season?

You do NOT own less clothes in order to become a minimalist. You do that because when you have less stuff, it means more money for worthwhile things. It could be clothes or anything else that is more meaningful to you like Travel, Education, or maybe an investment.

We all know that our self- worth is not measured by the clothes that we wear . High quality and branded clothes can make us feel good, look good and be more confident. It’s human nature. So, why do they need you to go against your nature and complicate simple living? Bottomline is, You shouldn’t buy excess items that are more than you actually need to wear.

H O W  to achieve this ?

1.One Item At a Time

You don’t have to do it all at once.

When you perceive decluttering as a huge bulk of tasks, then you’ll keep on procrastinating every time you see your extremely cluttered and disorganized closet. However, there is no reason to rush at all. Take a look at an example of a Doable strategy in owning less clothes by  Colleen’s approach at 365 Less Things.

Her decluttering philosophy is to LET GO of one item everyday, so that by the end of the year you own 365 less items. It doesn’t sound so heavy right ? Instead of ONE TIME boxing all your clothes and sorting what you actually need.

2. Give it away with a Purpose. Donate.

For new Mamas like me , here’s what I have learned. If you have a baby and have incurred so much Baby clothes and stuff and eventually your child have outgrown it, what do you do with it ? If you had another child then its ok but even then, how do you deal with the full closets & storage?

Donate or Give it Away to someone you know who have a child that could use it . Maybe your friends are shy enough to ask so initiating is always a good way to create deeper connections.Three fourths of my Baby’s wardrobe from birth are all second-hand used clothing and given by my friend. I thought that Its a very grand gesture  and until now I am grateful for it. Those clothes serves another purpose than being in a storage for years.I continue this by giving away & donating the clothes that my baby have outgrown to another friend. I let the chain continues.Kindness begets kindness. It built a deeper connection in my friendships and allow us to focus our expenditures on other baby’s needs.

You can check in your local community to give away your old clothes. ( It means that they are still in good condition ) Or if you knew someone whom to give it then don’t hesitate to donate it . I tell you, they would appreciate what you did.

Another source of Inspiration is Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist  shares the following compelling reasons to own less clothes:

  • You would have more disposable income.
  • You would have more time to live your life.
  • Mornings would feature less stress.
  • Your closets would be well-organized and uncluttered.
  • Packing for trips/vacations would take less time.
  • Laundry days would be easier (not necessarily less, but definitely easier).

If it doesnt sound appealing to you or you haven’t thought of this, then i leave you with this ;

If it doesn’t spark joy – Discard it.

How does the idea of owning less clothes appeal to you?