by gillian claire: minimalism



Keeping the Holidays Simple, (Tips from a Minimalist!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyHolidayEscape #CollectiveBias

Having a Minimalist Holiday (2)

It's easy to feel so much pressure as a mother during the holidays to create fabulous celebrations and traditions and make everything perfect. Honestly, this does not come naturally to me. You know that simple living + living small are important aspects of my life and sometimes it's hard to mesh that with the elaborate expectations of the holidays!

I am a minimalist and I actually don't even like having a Christmas tree- hah! This will be my 10th Christmas as a mother (can you believe that!?) and I'm still on my own personal journey of finding ways to make the holidays memorable while staying true to my values of simplicity.

Here are a few things I'm keeping in mind this holiday season so that I can enjoy spending time with my family while keeping things simple + stress free!


Taking a Step Back

Especially working in social media and as a blogger, I find myself being inundated with images of families making things and doing things and crafting things and celebrating almost 24/7 and it can make me feel like I'm not doing enough....

I have to remind myself often that social media is only a snapshot of real life. Families aren't really doing something fun and planned out every day of the week. Also, bloggers create and take wonderful pictures as part of their job. Even though this is part of my job as well, I can still easily get wrapped up in the cycle of thinking my life doesn't add up.

It's important for me to take a step back and remind myself that the internet isn't real life. I also find it helpful to take a step back from the craziness of Christmas in the real world as well. I love Christmas shopping but the stores this time of year are just beaming with lights and decorations and commercialism. It can just be too much. I like to participate in the experience but to also remember that I don't need to be out in that craziness constantly.


(Grab a coupon + pick up a copy of REALSIMPLE® at Safeway!)

Creating Me Time

As a busy working mom, having "me time" is so important, especially during the holidays! There is more to do and more to plan for this time of year and I need to create time for myself to relax and stay centered.

You already know that coffee is imperative for my me time and I love relaxing with a candle and something good to read to help clear my mind.

Right now I am reading the holiday edition of REALSIMPLE® magazine for inspiration! I love flipping through the pages of REALSIMPLE® because it is full of beautiful imagery and simple, lovely ideas! I like to keep a notebook on hand because creative thoughts always seem to flow when I'm looking through magazines. Right now I'm looking for gift ideas and maybe a couple new things to try with my kids this holiday season. I'm also thinking about the blog and what kind of content I'm looking to put out in the next couple of months.

I picked up my copy of REALSIMPLE® at Safeway. I like stopping by the Safeway in our neighborhood to pick up a coffee because it's always clean and relatively quiet there and this magazine was right by the checkout, perfect!

Making Simple Traditions

Lastly, I have to remind myself that our family doesn't have to do what every other family is doing.

Overall, we keep things simple this time of year and that's ok! I don't make homemade Christmas cookies with my kids but we do always buy a gingerbread house kit to work on together! My wrapping paper comes from the dollar store every year and it's not Instagram-perfect under our tree but the boys are just as excited to tear into their presents! We don't visit Santa at the mall but we talk about the wonderful spirit of Christmas often during these months and it's such a magical memory that I make with my little boys.

I hope you found these tips inspiring if you're looking to pare down and keep things simple and easy this holiday season! The beautiful thing is that we are all free to create the type of holiday we want. Some people love being on the go and want to pack these months full of as many experiences as possible and that's perfectly ok too!

For me, I'm going to keep on keeping things simple...

I found my holiday edition of REALSIMPLE® at Safeway.
Grab a coupon and pick one up for your "me-time"!

"Spring Cleaning" in the Fall.

Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Bona but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I have been going through some crazy Fall Cleaning vibes lately. "Spring Cleaning" in the Fall is huge to me because I love freshening up and organizing my house before Winter hits! First of all, I like getting the house ready for holiday visitors. Secondly, I love doing some deep cleaning and organizing before we are all stuck in our tiny house all Winter long!

I made a list of 10 things that I'm working on accomplishing before Christmas. I hope it sparks some ideas for you to put on your "Fall Cleaning" to-do list! 

✔️ Get New Front Door Mat

I still had my watermelon doormat out so I caved and bought one of the new Joanna Gaines doormats! (Just like everyone else- ha!) I love how simple it is and it will be perfect for Fall and Winter! As a minimalist, I've actually never been into doormats much but I've realized this year that it's such an easy and simple way to add a cozy touch to the house!


✔️ Paint Our Bedroom

We have painted our entire house since moving into our condo 4 years ago except our bedroom. Our bedroom has been the last room to get any love and it's depressing because that is where I go to relax! Aaron spent two weekends ago painting it gray for us and it looks beautiful. (Although to be honest, it looks purple, oh well!) I'm hoping to keep the motivation going within our bedroom and work on making it more of a retreat and less of a catch all mess!

Hang Artwork

Hanging artwork is one of the easiest ways to make the house feel cozy and for some reason it always takes us forever to actually hang things! I bought this wall hanging a year ago on clearance at Target and it took me 2 seconds to make a big change to our hallway by hanging it over the electrical box! I have a few other pieces of art that we've collected over the year that I'd like to get up on the walls in the next month!


✔️ Take Old Mattress Out of Kids' Room

Since we got bunk beds for the boys in the past year, we've had their old full sized mattress still sitting in the room taking up space. On Thanksgiving, Aaron had his brother help him finally take it out to the trash. Their room is so much more spacious and nice now!

✔️ Clean Out Outdoor Closet

Cleaning out and organizing our porch closet was a big undertaking that I tackled over Thanksgiving weekend! Nothing was accessible before and there was a ton of stuff that needed sorted and thrown out in the trash. This picture is the after: it looks so neat and tidy now!


✔️ Go Through Kids' Clothes

This went hand in hand with cleaning out the porch closet. Most of the bins in the photo above are full of clothes that the boys have outgrown and are either waiting for Asher (or a future baby...?) to grow into. I had so many piles of clothes in our laundry closet that I needed to sort through and put away in these bins. I also added a couple more that I was able to empty out from the boys' room. 

Wipe Down Appliances in Kitchen

I always like to wipe down the appliances in the kitchen before we have holiday guests, such as the dishwasher, front side of the stove and refrigerator etc. It's not something I think to do everyday but once I spend time on it I realize how grimy everything has gotten! 

Go Through Kids' Toys

We always get rid of a good amount of old toys before Christmastime since the boys are about to get a lot of new ones! I tell my kids that Santa brings more toys if their room is organized and has empty empty so this works perfectly- hah! We still have some progress to make on this one...

✔️ Clean out Hall Closet

We had one pretty atrocious hall closet that I've been wanting to tackle all year. I finally did it while Aaron was painting- success!

Clean Floors

I am really bad about cleaning the floors on a regular basis but it's something that definitely needs to be done before having holiday visitors. I like to shampoo our carpets and also deep clean the hardwood floors. You've seen me talk about my favorite hardwood floor cleaner, Bona PowerPlus before!

I do not love dragging a giant bucket of water and a mop around my kitchen and the Bona mop and Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner make cleaning the floors so much easier! It also makes for super easy wipe down and cleanup after visitors. Bona makes reusable as well as disposable dust and cleaning pads. 

Bona PowerPlus has an oxygenated formula that loosens and removes heavy dirt build-up so you can deep clean your hardwood floors with minimal effort! 


My little Asher always loves to join in the cleaning efforts. We call him our, "helper boy" and he loved testing out our new Bona products! Our kitten, Finn, joined in the efforts as well. :)

Be sure to visit the Bonafide Fanatics page to sign up for Bona's newsletter so that you can receive coupons and seasonal offerings!

Do you do "Fall Cleaning" in your house? Happy cleaning, friends!



10 Things You Don't Need In a Tiny Kitchen.

     Minimalism is a huge part of my life that I haven't really delved into on my blog but I want that to change! What some of you may not know is that we currently live in a 900 square foot condo as a family of 4 and yes, we chose this lifestyle! Choosing minimalism and living "small" is an alternative lifestyle that I've found difficult to express to others in my life. I'm hoping that by sharing about my choices, I will be able to connect with others and inspire them on their journey as well as share about this lifestyle with those who may not be familiar with it!

     Our kitchen is small you guys. I mean really small. I watch House Hunters and often see couples without kids and with larger kitchens than ours saying that their kitchen is way too small. The photo above was taken from the other side of this counter/bar space looking in. That's it! The bar on the other side serves as our only kitchen/dining room table as well. As far as our kitchen size, it is more than enough for me and it is our normal but I often find guests surprised at the things we don't have. When you live small and as a minimalist, there are a lot of things that you really don't need!

Here are 10 things that you don't need in a tiny kitchen:

1.  A Bunch of Different Appliances Paring down on kitchen appliances saves a lot of space! We have a very simple, small coffee maker (because coffee is a non-negotiable for me, duh!) and a toaster oven on our counter space. That's it! Some people will have other non-negotiables but for us we've never needed a crock-pot, bread machine, kitchen aid mixer, etc. 

2. A Microwave Ok, in full disclosure, we do currently own a microwave because it came installed within the cabinets in our condo.  However, in our last home we didn't have a microwave and it was perfectly fine! We used the toaster over to heat things up. To me, a toaster oven is a great appliance to own because it also saves energy by cutting down on oven use.

3. A Large Trashcan We simply use a little trashcan under the sink and line it with plastic grocery bags. With 4 people in the family, this does fill up fast. If it's full while I'm making dinner, I just hang another grocery sized bag on a drawer to fill with extra trash. Then after dinner, we take out the trash. You can always take an extra trash trip during the day; you don't have to have a giant trashcan in your home!

4. An Abundance of Counter Space I'm so used to having a tiny kitchen that I honestly don't know what most people do with ALL that counter space! The biggest problem with having a limited amount of counter space is that it becomes imperative to tidy the kitchen before cooking. I usually have to do a little counter tidying  to clear off any grocery bags, papers, snacks etc that have piled up during the day before I prepare dinner. Having less space for junk to accumulate though forces you to deal with the clutter more often which is one thing I love about living small.

5. A Pantry: We keep most of our dry food in two cabinets and those cabinets also include any spices, medicines and vitamins We also have a basket of fruit/vegetables on the counter and sometimes we have to use a little counter space for some overflow cereal. (Cereal is big with all the men in my family.) We also have a modest sized refrigerator. Tips to condensing food space are: only buy what you need and grocery shop often! Honestly, if I needed pantry space I could easily rearrange and use some of the closet space in our home because: with minimalism you don't have a TON of stuff filling your closets!


6.  "Formal" Dishes There definitely isn't any fancy wedding china in this house. We use simple white dishes, (some are even from The Dollar Tree!) and glass mason jar cups for our everyday eating and drinking. By everyday I really mean everyday; on Christmas and Thanksgiving we are still happy to use our mason jars and plain white dishes!

7. Excess Dishes Building upon #6, we also don't have very many dishes! All of our dishes fit on two shelves. You really don't need enough dishes to feed a whole church congregation.  When we do have guests, we usually grab some paper plates and disposable silverware to help out. I prefer that to having shelves filled with dishes that we rarely use. 

8. Drawers Full of Plastic You know what I'm talking about: all the water bottles, tupperware etc. The kids have a few plastic cups that are on the same shelf as the mason jars. We also have some glass and plastic tupperware and a few water bottles that we use often and are kept on one shelf and in one drawer with other items. You just don't need 20 plastic water bottles and 40 tupperware containers without lids hanging around.

9. Every Kitchen Gadget Ever Created All of our silverware and kitchen "tools" exist in two drawers and one has tupperware in it as well. Honestly there are so many kitchen gadgets out there that you really don't need and they all just take up precious SPACE! Figure out which kitchen tools you can do without. Use a fork as a whisk, a knife as a vegetable peeler, etc. Find the tools that are imperative to your family and forget the rest!

10. Cookbooks: Books are a hard thing for people to get rid of but unless you are a chef, pare down on the cookbooks, guys! Create a digital cookbook for yourself by collecting favorite recipes on Pinterest and only keep the cookbooks that you use often.


So there you have your first glimpse into our little home! 

Leave me a comment if you are a minimalist and/or living in a small space as well! Thanks for reading. :)


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