40 Bags in 40 Days 2017 + Tips

Tomorrow is the first day of Lent, which mean starting tomorrow, I will be doing a 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.
It has been 3 years since I did a 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge and let me tell you...I am WAY overdue for this 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.
3 years doing this project we have gotten rid of almost 125 bags of STUFF (aka "CRAP")

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 I haven't done it in 3 years.
Because there is a lot more stuff I know I can clean out & get rid of.

Here is my 2017 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 with you 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 15 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 is 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.
The first year I did 40 Bags in 40 Days, in 2012 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 hlaf of them done.

So, since it is now 2017 and over 3 years since I have last done 40 bags in 40 days, it is time for me to do it again.

This year for 2017, 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!

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.
Let's get rid of STUFF.
 Are you in?

Just a reminder that I am placing my bulk order!
 I know so many of you who are curious about R+F products, but are nervous to take the plunge!
Guess what? Now is your chance!
I am placing a BULK order of 4 of my FAVORITE Rodan + Fields products tomorrow!
I am offering these at my CONSULTANT PRICE! 
Eye Cream - $60
Micro-Dermabrasion Paste -$68
Lash Boost - $125
Overnight Restorative Cream - $62

The eye cream, paste & overnight cream each last 5-6 months.
Lash Boost will last 4 months

Send me an email or leave a comment if you would like to order any of these items.
Prices include tax and shipping!
This is a great way for you to try one (or some) of our amazing products at a discounted price.

All products come with a 60 day, empty bottle, 100% money back guarantee so you have nothing to risk by trying them out! 



Instant Pot Jambalaya

As you know, I am currently obsessed with my Instant Pot.
I am having so much fun creating new recipes and converting old recipes to make them Instant Pot recipes.
Next week is Fat Tuesday which always reminds me of Mardi Gras....I've never been to Mardi Gras, but I have been to New Orleans.
I went to New Orleans in 2006 for a week with our church to do Hurricane Katrina relief....it was an amazing experience re-buliding homes for people who lost theirs.
While in New Orleans, I had Jambalaya... & Louisiana is known for it's delicious Cajun food, including Jambalaya.
Since Fat Tuesday is next week, I decided to convert my Jambalya recipe into an Instant Pot recipe...and it turned out amazing!
Here is what you need:
Andouille or Kielbasa sausage link, sliced
Frozen chicken tenderloins (4 or 5 of them)
2 cups of shrimp (I used frozen cooked shrimp, you can use fresh shrimp or frozen raw shrimp)
2 tsp  Creole Seasoning
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2  tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 cans diced tomatoes with peppers & onions, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup long grain white rice

Chop up the sausage...
In the Instant Pot push the "saute" button. When it gets hot (the display will read HOT)  Add a splash of olive oil and the sausage and saute for 3-4 minutes:
While the sausage is sauteing, chop up your celery, onion & green bell pepper:
Add the celery, onion,  green bell pepper, minced garlic & 2 cups of shrimp. Saute for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the Cajun seasoning & cayenne pepper and saute for another 2 minutes.
It will look like this..Yum!
Add the 2 cans of diced tomatoes (I use the diced tomatoes that have celery, onion & peppers), frozen chicken tenderloins, chicken broth & rice.
Give it a big stir:
Then put the lid on your Instant Pot turn the knob to SEALING:
Turn to high on manual setting and cook for 10 minutes. 

When time is up, let it do a natural release for 10-12 minutes. If there steam left, do a manual release.
Open the lid and this is what it will look like.....
Because I am a freak about cooking safety, I always have to check the chicken to make sure it's cooked. The chicken was perfect! You can easily slice/cut the chicken tenderloins with a fork after they are done cooking.
Serve & Enjoy!
This meal is so flavorful. You can adjust the cajun/cayenne pepper to your liking to make it spicer if you want.
My Jambalaya has sausage, chicken and shrimp in it. If you don't like one of those meats, you can leave them out.
It took less than an hour from start to finish. It was my first time using the saute function on the Instant Pot, which was fun to try out...it works so great.
I call this recipe another Instant Pot win!
I am making this again on Tuesday in honor of Mardi Gras.
If you don't have an Instant Pot yet...get one! They are $100 right now....worth every penny!
Hope you love this recipe as much as we do!


What's Up Wednesday :: February 2017

It's the last Wednesday of the month, that means it's time for our What's Up Wednesday Link Up!

Link up with  me, Sheaffer & Shay the LAST Wednesday of each month so we can read about What's Up with YOU!

Here we go!
What We’re Eating this week.....
 Monday: Slow Cooker Ribs & Mashed Potatoes:

Tuesday: Chicken Taco Soup

Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Friday: Friday Night Pizza Night

I also made a batch of my Grammy's Split Pea Soup for me to have for my lunches this week.

Other treats I am making....
Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

What I'm Reminiscing about.....
  15 years ago on February 15th Kevin and I got engaged!
Look how young we were....babies!!!!

 What I'm loving.....
I'm loving my Loving Lately series!
Once a month I post about things that I am Loving Lately.
In January, my Loving Lately had a silver/grey theme...check it out HERE
In February, my Loving Lately had a pink theme.....check it out HERE

What We've been up to.....
Go to Tahoe! We've been going almost every other weekend since Christmas.

We went this past weekend despite the crazy weather...our kids are becoming quite the skiers this year & it's so fun to ski with them. Kevin and I are doing our best to raise "non-wimp" California kids when it comes to the weather :)
The snow has been INSANE this winter. So pretty!!
We needed it so desperately, but WOW...I didn't think we would get this much rain & snow in California. The past 6 weeks have been crazy!
Rain & snow are good....the flooding, power outages, road closures & evacuations are not good.

What I'm Dreading.....
The orthodontist....It's that time when our girls need to see the orthodontist....we got a quote for braces...YIKES!! I am dreading those bills for sure!

What I'm Working On.....
Creating recipes for my Instant Pot.
Seriously. I'm obsessed with converting my favorite recipes to Instant Pot recipes.
I need an intervention.
I have already posted my Korean Beef, Grammy's Split Pea Soup, Teriyaki Meatballs, Chicken Taco Soup. I have 2 more Instant Pot recipes that I converted & need to post here....stay tuned for a Jambalaya recipe  & my Rosemary Beef Stew recipe! 

What I'm Excited About.....
As you can tell, I am excited about my Instant Pot.
My goal is to convert all my Slow Cooker/Crock Pot recipes to Instant Pot recipes.
I never thought I would love a kitchen appliance more than my Crock Pot.
It is just so amazing....things that would take hours & all day in the Crock Pot take 30-45 minutes in the Instant Pot.

You need one in your life. Trust me.  I had a dream the other night about creating recipes for my Instant Pot.
LOL! I just love it!

What I'm Watching........
Switched at Birth

 This is Us:

Grey's Anatomy

How to Get Away with Murder
And, of course I am watching The Bachelor.
Ugh. Not a fan of Nick, but I've watched every single season of this show....why stop now?!?!

What I'm Reading.....
Here are the books I read this month:
The Women in Cabin 10
4 out of 5 stars...good suspenseful book!

In dark, dark wood

 This was also suspenseful & a page turner.
4 out of 5 stars

Friends We Keep

 Book 2 of the Girls of Mischeif Bay series...it's a good "fluff" or beach read!
3.5 out of 5 stars

Things You Won't Say

I read a few of Sarah Pekkanen's books last year & liked them a lot and this was good as well.
4 out of 5 stars

The next book I am starting is:
The Perfect Neighbors

What I'm Listening to..... 
 Today's hit on Pandora...one of my new favorite songs is
HandClap by Fitz and the Tantrums

What I'm Wearing.....
My rainboots are getting tons of use because of all the rain!
When it's not raining, I am wearing These booties....absolutely loving them....so comfortable!
And, not too big of a heel #tallgirlproblems

They are on sale right now, you can save 20%
They come in 8 colors. I have 2 colors, check them out here.
What I’m doing this weekend.....
We have some fun things going on this weekend.
Claire has a basketball game, we are going to Disney on Ice & Kevin and I are going to the Banff Mountain Film Festival viewing with friends.

What I'm Looking Forward to next month.....
 March Madness! I love college basketball and that time of year.

 I'm also looking forward to our school's Kentucky Derby themed auction!

What else is new.....
I started using a new mascara:

I just started using it a few weeks ago and I love it!
You can get it HERE.

Question of the month is:
What is your favorite beauty product?
I can't just pick one favorite beauty product, so I am going to highlight 4 beauty products that I can't live without!
 Rodan + Fields Multi Function Eye Cream:

This eye cream is THE BEST.
It combines powerful peptides to minimize the appearance of crow’s-feet, helps reduce the appearance of both puffiness and dark under eye circles.

 My next favorite product is our Micro-Dermabrasion Paste. This has been a life saver for me this winter.
We have been in Lake Tahoe every other weekend since Christmas which means my skin has gone from mild temperatures here in the Bay Area to freezing, snowy conditions in Tahoe...and the wind on my face while skiing has not helped. I have been using this paste 2-3 x a week and it has saved my skin! 
Micro-Dermabrasion Paste is a high-glide, oil-free formula designed to help promote maximum gentle exfoliation. Use intermittently to visibly improve skin tone and texture. It smoothes away rough spots.

 Overnight Restorative Cream:
Oh, how I love this overnight cream. When I wake up in the morning, my skin is so incredibly soft.
Our Overnight Restorative Cream is an ultra-moisturizing cream that replenishes skin’s natural moisturizing factors while you sleep for visibly firmer, less-lined skin in the morning.

  Lash Boost
 Get lush, longer-looking lashes in as little as four weeks with Lash Boost.
This nightly eyelash-conditioning serum features a unique proprietary formula that improves the appearance of lash volume and length for lashes that are 100% real, 100% yours.
I am obsessed with Lash Boost...it is my current favorite R+F product....the results are incredible.
Here are my friend Caroline's lashes:
 Aren't her lashes incredible?

I need to update my close up before & after photo of my lashes...but here is what they look from a distance like as of last week:

 So, if I could only use 4 beauty products for the rest of my life these would be them!
Eye cream, Micro derm paste, overnight cream & lash boost!

 I know so many of you who are curious about R+F products, but are nervous to take the plunge!
Guess what? Now is your chance!
I am placing a BULK order of these 4 items next week on February 28th.
I am offering these at my CONSULTANT PRICE!

Eye Cream - $60
Micro-Dermabrasion Paste -$68
Overnight Restorative Cream - $62
Lash Boost - $125

The eye cream, paste & overnight cream each last 5-6 months.
Lash Boost will last 4 months

Send me an email or leave a comment if you would like to order any of these items.
Prices include tax and shipping!
This is a great way for you to try one (or some) of our amazing products at a discounted price.

All products come with a 60 day, empty bottle, 100% money back guarantee so you have nothing to risk by trying them out!

If you are new to my blog, thanks for stopping by!
Feel free to follow along! 
You can find me on Bloglovin, Facebook & Instagram

Can't wait to read about What's up with all of YOU!


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