2.22.2018

Life Lately

February has been a fun month, here is an update of our life lately.
We kicked off our February in Tahoe over Superbowl weekend.
Not much snow...it was like Spring skiing.

Kate is like me...she said "I don't like skiing when it's warm out...I want to be cold" LOL.


Last winter was so epic.... Here is comparison from when we were there Superbowl weekend 2017 & this year during Superbowl weekend.
View of our deck last year:

This year:

Last year:

This year:

It's SO sad. California is on track for the dryest February EVER.
We need a Miracle March full of rain & snow so we don't have a drought...AGAIN.

Speaking of the Super Bowl....Did you watch This is Us after the Superbowl?
ALL THE TEARS.
 I was shaking I was crying so hard. And then another brutal episode 48 hours later.
It starts back up on Tuesday...I need to brace myself.

Speaking of TV shows....Are you watching the Bachelor this season?
There is a group of 10 of us who watch it together every week & take turns hosting it.
 I look forward to Monday nights with my girls! I hosted last week & had a little Valentine's theme going on for the treats:
Last year for my birthday, one of my friends got me that wine glass that says "Will you accept this rose?"
 I drink wine out of it on Mondays :)

Last week we celebrated Un-Valentine's Day.
Kevin and I got engaged 16 years ago on February 15th, the day after Valentine's Day.
We were babies!!!!!
You can read about our Un-Valentine's Engagement HERE.

2018:
 Not so much babies anymore! But, I am thankful for Rodan + Fields that helps keep my skin looking younger :)

Speaking of Rodan + Fields, we have an amazing special going on until February 28th.
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This past weekend, for the 3 day President's Day weekend we originally had planned to go skiing in Tahoe. But, we have no snow, so decided to stay home & do some Bay Area adventures.
  Napa & Sonoma in February is so pretty because of the mustard that grows:

We enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather over Presidents Day & went wine tasting:

We love this winery because it is family friendly & beautiful.

We grabbed sandwiches from one of our favorite spots in Sonoma, Sunflower Cafe.
Kevin got the Turkey Pesto sandwich:

I got the Avocado, Goat Cheese, Roasted Tomato & Bacon Sandwich.

It was AMAZING.
I will be re-creating this at home!!

Remember last Spring Break when I took the kids on a Road Trip to Santa Barbara by myself & we visited 10 of the 21 California Missions? You can read about it HERE.
 It was SO fun. Since we were in town over Presidents Day, we decided to visit 2 more missions here in the Bay Area that we hadn't visited yet.
Our first stop was  the Sonoma Mission, also known as Mission San Francisco Solano.
This is the final California Mission that was built & the end of the Mission Trail, but for us, it was Mission #11 of 21
This Mission is right off the square in downtown Sonoma.

End of the Mission Trail...but for us we still have several Missions to visit.
If you are on Instagram, you can follow our mission trips with the hashtag #larsoncaliforniamissionadventures

The next mission we visited was Mission San Rafael.
 
It is right in the middle of a downtown area and it still holds church services & mass. In fact our precious neighbors got married there 57 years ago!
 We loved this Mission because it’s pink.
This was Mission #12 of 21.
We are going to see a couple more Northern California ones this Spring Break and then next year when Claire is a 4th grader, my plan is for us to visit the rest of the Missions (which are all in Southern California)

This past weekend we also visited the California Missions Museum.
It is in Sonoma at a winery & has replicas of all the California Missions.
The stained glass was taken from Mission Dolores in San Francisco (where Kevin's grandma has a brick because she used to play there)

Have you heard of Rothy's shoes?
They are adorable flats and so comfortable...and the soles are made from recycled water bottles.

They come in 2 different styles.....traditional rounded toe ballet flat:
 Or, pointed ballet flat:
These are just a few of the desgins/color choices. They come in TONS of colors.
These are the ones I have:
I am ordering these ones next:
My favorite flats were the Tory Burch Caroline Ballet flats, but they are discontinued, so I have been on the hunt for new flats that are comfortable & stylish. I am not a fan of Tieks, but Rothy's? I love them! If you use this link, you get $20 off your order!
Click HERE to check out all their cute shoes!


In 2017, I only ran 10 times...the entire year.
 In 2018, I vowed to run more. Didn’t run once in January. Oops.
Once February arrived, I decided no more excuses. 
Plus, it has been in the 70’s most of the month, so it has been so great to be outside enjoying the amazing weather.
So far this month, I have gone running 12 times. 
 I forgot how much I love running. It truly is good for my soul. Now, I just need to sign up for a race....I’m more motivated to run when I have something to train for...anyone else like that? 

This week here in the Bay Area we have been having a swarm of Earthquakes. Not fun!!!
They have been ranging from 2.0-3.5 on the Richter Scale. 
 Most of them have been in the middle of the night and they have been waking us (and the kids up!) Oh the joys of living in California. 
We have amazing weather....but we also have Earthquakes!

Happy Friday & Hope you have a great weekend!


2.20.2018

40 Bags in 40 Days {2018}

Valentine's Day was the 1st day of Lent, which meant for me, it was the first day of doing a 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.
  The idea of 40 Bags in 40 Days is that during Lent (40 days) rid your house of 40 bags of "stuff".
This "stuff" can be things you don't use... junk, clothes you don't need/wear, clutter, old toys, garbage, etc.

To me, Lent is a time of prayer, self-reflection, sacrifice, self-control and renewal.
To me, a good home de-cluttering can go hand in hand with the Lenten season, just like our houses/blogs may look put together on the outside, on the inside we are a mess and need an intervention & de-cluttering ourselves.

In 2012 when I did 40 Bags in 40 Days for Lent, I gave AWAY 24 bags of stuff to Goodwill.
I threw AWAY 28 bags of stuff.
That is 52 bags of stuff we didn't use, need or wasted.

  In 2013 when I did 40 Bags in 40 days, 
I gave away 18 Bags of stuff to Goodwill.
I threw AWAY 26 bags of stuff.
That is 44 bags of stuff we didn't use, need or wasted.
 In 2014, I "kind of" did 40 Bags in 40 Days.
I didn't finish my list (oops) but I did give away 12 bags to Goodwill and threw away 14 bags of stuff that we didn't use, need or wasted.
In 2017, I also "kind of" did 40 Bags in 40 days. I didn't finish my list, but I was able to donate over 20 bags to the Goodwill and I threw away 17 bags of stuff that we didn't use, need or that was expired.


4 years doing this project we have gotten rid over 150 bags of STUFF (aka "CRAP")
 
EWWWW.

I learned a lot the years I did this project.
I always keep my house pretty clutter free, but doing this project makes me realize we still have a lot of stuff we just don't need.
 I realized how much CRAP we have.
I realized how MUCH we have.
It has made me think about what I buy & what I bring into our house.
I ask myself, "Do we need this?" or
"Is there room for this?"
It has drastically changed my thinking, and for that I am thankful.
But, I am still a work in progress.

And, YES....I am doing this project again this year because there is a lot more stuff I know I can clean out, donate & get rid of.

Here is my 2018 List of areas to clean out:




This printable was created for me a couple years ago by a blog reader, Jenny.
You can download it HERE.
This is my 4th time doing 40 Bags in 40 Days, so I have learned some tips & tricks along the way. 
I thought I would share them again in this post because this project can be overwhelming.

1. Use Black Trash Bags
When you use white or see through trash bags, your children will be able to see what you are throwing away. When my girls have seen some of their things in the white trash bags that are sitting in the garage waiting to be thrown out, they start rummaging through the bags. They cry and want to keep their things because they have "changed" their mind about giving it away. (Or, they have seen things of theirs that I have snuck in the giveaway bag) 

So, take my advice...Use black trash bags.

2. Use 2 bags per section.
This is a super simple tip. 
For every section that I clean out, I have 2 bags. 
One is for trash, one is for giveaway. 

3.  Take EVERYTHING OUT & only put back what you want to keep.
When you are cleaning out an area, take EVERYTHING out.
For example, when I clean out my pantry of shame, I take EVERY SINGLE thing out of the pantry and put it in my hallway. It is a DISASTER. (I do big areas like this at night when my kids are in bed)
Sometimes, things will get worse before they get better!
This was my pantry last year. Here is the "Before"
I literally took out EVERY SINGLE thing and put it in my hallway.
I had a huge bag for trash/expired items.
I had another bag of food to donate.
When I took everything out, that meant I had a clean slate when I put things back on the shelves.
Here was the After:
The reason I tell you to take everything out is so that you start with a clean slate.
When you take everything out of the area, you can be very conscious about what you put back in that area. You can organize and re-arrange things when you have a blank slate.
So, even though it might make a HUGE massive mess by taking everything out, it will be so much more organized.
I also do this when I clean out my closet.
I literally take out EVERY SINGLE item of clothing and dump it on my bed.
Only put back things you actually wear,  need & use.
 
 4. Once you have taken everything out, Wipe Down & Clean the area.  
This goes along with tip #3. As you clear out each area, then wipe it down with a clorox/lysol wipe, windex, paper towel, etc.
 If you are clearing out stuff & organizing it, you don't want to put it back on a dirty shelf. Take the few minutes and wipe down your areas!
Nothing better than starting with a clean slate!

5. Closet hangers
I think I saw this tip on Oprah 10 years ago.
When you clean out your closet and put clothes back, hang them up with the hooks facing you.
Once you wear the item, you can hang it up the correct way.
Every 3-4 months, you can look at your closet and see if there are more things you should get rid of because you never wear them. After a year, everything that is still facing the wrong way needs to be donated! If you haven't worn a clothing item in a year, it's not worth keeping! Get rid of it!
I do this with the girls clothes also and if they haven't worn something in 6 months, it gets donated!

6.   Get the bags out of your house
As soon as you clean out an area, immediately get the bags out of your house! 
Put the trash bags straight into the trash.
Take the donate bags and put them in your car so you can donate them.
Just get them out of your house!!!
(If they are out of your house, the less chance your kids will go through the bags and if you get them out of your house, the less chance YOU will change your mind about getting rid of something)

7.    Have a "Holding Area"
Our kids have lots of toys. Between Grandparents, Christmas & Birthdays, our kids have tons of "things" Kevin and I clean out their toys (without them knowing) Sometimes, when we clean out some of their toys, we put it in a black trash bag, but then put it in our shed for 1-2 months before giving it away.
This way, if they ask where that toy is, then we can give it back to them.
95% of the time, they never even notice the toy is gone.
Out of sight, out of mind.
If they don't ask for it within 2 months...BUH-BYE.

8. Donate your Items!
Many people have asked me where I donate all my bags to.
I donate to a variety of places.
About once a month, we get a flyer in the mail from some sort of charity letting us know they will be having a truck in our area and that they will collecting donations, just put your items on the curb & attach the postcard to your donations. 
This makes it SO easy to donate! 
For those bags, we just keep them in a corner of our garage and then set them on the curb in the morning. 
This is how we learned about tip #1....put the donations black bags.
Several times, we would have the girls things on the curb and in the morning as they were leaving for school, they would see their stuff on the curb and totally freak out. Not a fun way to start the day! 

I have also gotten bags like this in our mailbox:

I also donate to the Thrift Store in our town. We also have a Goodwill about 10 minutes away, so I will donate items to them as well. 

You could list your items on Free Cycle or sell them on Craigs List, but I don't have time for that! I don't want money for my things, I just want them out of my house and I will happily donate them. If you donate to places like Goodwill, the Cancer Society, they will often leave you a donation slip that you can use for tax write offs. I save all of my donation receipts so that I know the dates I donated and what items I donated.

And, now Amazon and Stitch Fix will let you re-use the boxes they sent you items in and you can mail donated/giveaway clothes to them for FREE and Amazon or Stitch Fix will donate them to Goodwill.
Read more about it HERE.
How awesome is that?

9. Have your kids help you with 40 Bags in 40 Days.
This is a tricky one. 
I am still trying to navigate this.
Most areas I clean out without my kids (when they are in bed) because they would just be in the way if I had them help me clean out the kitchen cabinets, etc.
And, most times I clean out their toys/clothes/books without them because I know they have a hard time getting rid of stuff.
One of our kids is a hoarder, so it can be total drama when we clean out their things so sometimes it is just easier to clean out their stuff when they around because I don't want to deal with the meltdown/drama/tears.
BUT, I have realized that I need to teach them at a young age that it is good to give away things they don't need because there are a lot of people & kids who aren't as fortunate as them and it is good to give away things.
I want my kids to be generous and give things away that they don't need, so sometimes I have them help. They feel more at peace & relaxed in their rooms when it is organized and put away


10.  Clean out 1 area at a time & take it 1 day at a time.
If you don't finish by Easter.....that's okay! Give yourself grace.
Lent is actually 47 days long (for some reason they don't count the Sundays in the 40 days)
So, you really have 47 days to clean out 40 bags.
Just try and do 1 section a day. 
Some sections (like my kitchen junk drawer) only take me 10 minutes to clean out.
Some sections (like our closets) will take 1-2 hours.
Don't try and do 5 sections in a day. You will burn yourself out.
2012 was the first year I did 40 Bags in 40 Days and it took the longest because there was just so much stuff. 
I didn't finish it until August...a few days before Luke was born! 
It took me 5 months, not 40 days! (Not to make excuses, but I was pregnant with Luke and barfing everyday) But, I gave myself grace! It's okay I didn't finish by Easter, the point is I finished!

In 2013,  I finished in June. But, hey! I finished. That is what counts.

In 2014, I never finished my list 40 bags in 40 days.  FAIL. No excuses. Just a fail. I got about half of them done.

In 2017, I never finished my list either, but I did get most of them done & a lot of things donated.


This year for 2018, my goal is to finish by Easter (since my areas are not nearly as cluttered and the girls are in school until 3 so I have time each day before they get home)
But, if it takes me longer than Easter...that is okay!
Just get started....and take it one day at a time :)
Stick with it...who cares if it takes you 4 months instead of 40 days?
The point is to rid your home of clutter.


So, there you have it...my 10 tips for doing 40 Bags in 40 Days.
I am sure I am missing other tips, so if you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below!

If you don't have a lot of "stuff" then you can do a scaled down challenge. You get 1 black trash bag & get rid of 1 thing per day for 40 days and then donate it. I saw this idea on Pinterest.
 This is something your kids could do in their rooms during Lent.


Like in years past, I will update so you can see my progress (and my filth) Ha!

I've got my list ready, I've my bags ready.

Take a Deep Breath.
You can do this.
LESS is MORE.
Let's get rid of STUFF.
 Are you in?

++++++++++++++++
Yesterday, February 19th was National Lash Day.
Who knew? 
 In honor of National Lash Day, I am going to place a bulk order of Lash Boost this week & you can get it at a discounted price.
This is a great way for you to try Lash Boost if you haven't already!
Current customers can also be a part of this bulk order & deal.

Lash Boost is $125 & will last you 4 months.
Here are my friend Caroline's lashes:
Like all our products, Lash Boost comes with a 60 day, empty bottle, 100% money back guarantee so you have nothing to risk by trying them out.
Send me an email or leave a comment if you would like to order!
melissa_larson17@yahoo.com
Prices include tax and shipping!



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