Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Simple Car Wash

I’ve been stressed and chaotic lately, so my normally clean car had taken on a layer of half-eaten Teddy Grahams, apple juice spritz and assorted “I live in a construction zone” debris. In an effort to cheer myself up, I decided to clean my car over my lunch break today.

The simplest way to clean a car is to pay someone else to do it. It’s also the most expensive. The cheapest way is to do it all yourself with a bucket of suds at home — not really an option when you only have an hour, not to mention when you’re pregnant and wearing high heels. So I decided that the simplest thing to do was a hybrid — I’d go by Car Spa and have them do an express exterior wash with towel dry and prewash scrub ($6). Bonus there is that it comes with a 48-hour rain guarantee. Then I’d pop over to a do-it-yourself car wash and vacuum, etc., myself.

The car wash took about 6 minutes. I grabbed some drive-thru lunch fare (hey, the bag can be a trash bag, right?) and headed to the do-it-yourself car wash, where I parked in a vacuum stall. Their vacuum was $1.50 for 3 minutes, so I was glad I had grabbed my own Dustbuster on the way out of the house this morning. I vacuumed the floors and seat crevices. I used leather wipes to wipe down the leather seats, dash, cup holders and interior doors. I tossed all the trash and checked the supply on my car’s toddler kit (correctly sized diapers, check; extra t-shirt, check; changing pads and cloths, check; extra Teddy Grahams, check). Total time to clean: 26 minutes plus a bit of drive time.

Unfortunately I forgot to grab glass cleaner and carpet spot cleaner when I left the house this morning, so I’ll have to do those minor touch-ups when I get home tonight. But my car already looks 1000 times better.

Now I just need to clean out my diaper bag…

Simplifying Scrapbooking

I never intended to scrapbook. When my son was born, my mother-in-law had a beautiful scrapbook made for us with pictures from when my husband and I were dating, our wedding, my pregnancy, the birth and the first precious days at home. She also gave me extra pages, stickers and supplies to continue the scrapbook, so I could make pages for his first holidays, etc. OK, I thought, I’ll document those precious firsts, finish the scrapbook and be done. Then Christmas rolled around and I got a new scrapbook album as a gift. Hmm. Well, the other one is getting full, and it would be fun to make a few more pages. Now, two years later, I’m an actual scrapbooker. I don’t do it a lot, but I do make pages for birthdays, holidays, the still-happening “firsts” like our recent trip to the zoo, and the like. But how can I pursue this notoriously clutter-filled hobby while still striving toward a simpler and greener lifestyle?

Is it even possible to be a Green Scrapbooker? I think it might be. In the beginning, I bought “value packs” of scrapbooking supplies. Not anymore. I simplified my system to one 4-inch box that perfectly holds paper, stickers, scissors and glue. I keep a large envelope in there to hold pictures or mementos for pages I’m working on. I also have a large envelope that is sized to hold the 12×12 page I’m working on with its stickers and photos, so I have my current project easily at hand. I don’t buy stickers or paper until I’m ready to work on a specific project, then I plan ahead and buy what I need. Of course, I do still have a small stockpile of supplies, but I make sure to keep it to what will fit in the box, and I don’t buy more just because it’s on sale or it’s cute. All of my photos are digital, so I don’t print pictures until I’m ready to work on the page, then I plan the page ahead of time so I can print only what I need. My goal is simply to put together cute albums with the minimum of waste and supplies.

I use the scrap paper to within a inch of its life, then recycle the stuff I can’t use. Extra stickers and papers have been going to friends for their use. A while back, I even eBay’ed the rest of the value pack stuff I knew I wouldn’t use. When I do need to buy materials, I look for recycled options.

I know the greenest option would be not to scrapbook at all, but there are ways to do it while minimizing waste and consumption. My son loves looking at his scrapbooks, so I’ll continue adding to them as I have time. I’m always looking for new ways to streamline and “green up” everyday projects so we can enjoy ourselves while still living planet friendly.