Diana's Photo Expressions | Blog
Welcome to my 'SIMPLIFY' blog!  Although it does not showcase my 'professional' photography work, it's an extension of me (and my personality through writing) in my 2015 mission to simplify many aspects of my life.  In essence, the topics covered in my simplify blog will fall under various categories that I'm working on this year to simplify!  They are: Home Organization, Projects & Decor; Finances & Shopping; Meal Planning, Diet & Exercise; Schedules, Activities & Balance; Business, Photography & Working for Yourself.  Thanks for stopping by my little bliggity blog.  My hope is that you might be inspired and find an aspect of your life that you can relate to mine.  I'd love to hear from you if you can relate to a specific post or topic!

Unfinished projects!

May 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

In an effort to regain some space, sanity, and just cross some things off the list that have been there for a few weeks, or months or...hmmm...possibly  a year (or two) or let's just say awhile.  I've also deemed this the year of finishing the unfinished projects around the house!  I would like to think I'm not the only one who has a number of these potential projects hiding around the house?!  Or is that just a 'creative person' kind of a thing? 


The pattern typically goes like this:

1.  Idea hits (by either seeing something online, in a magazine or in a store).

2.  Must buy/gather stuff to do the awesome project.

3.  Gotta be 'in the mood for projecting and creativity' to start and complete the project.

4.  Project may get started or maybe the mood just never hits.

5.  Stuff sits in a pile or piles around the house either partially finished or waiting to be inspired to start the project.

6.  Get sidetracked on a new idea and the cycle starts again!  Thus, a 'few' unfinished projects are in various stages around the house.


So, one of the projects I had on my list was to switch out the decor on our dresser in our bedroom.  I didn't take a before picture but let me describe what was there--dusty, out of date, fake things sticking out of my containers.  At one time, I thought they looked great.  After all, I put them together.  However, they'd gotten to the point, that every time I looked at them, I was annoyed and kept thinking how I needed to replace them.  Yet, for some reason, I just kept putting off the project.  A few months ago, I found new 'fake things' that I liked and actually spent the hour needed to create my new updated decor.  I love them.  I wonder how long it will be before they are dusty and getting on my nerves?  HA!  But for now, I'm loving the subtle change and new look.  Thus, here is the reveal of my NEW fake things sticking out of my containers!  I found these in a big 'clump' in the discount section at Menards.  I cut them apart, got some green foam at Michaels (put some rocks in the bottom to secure and add weight) and then topped off the inside with some green mossy stuff (also from Michaels).  For now, my updated look is bringing me joy every time I look at them.  I should have switched these out a long time ago!

Another project that has been on the list for a long time--like a few years long time--were these shelves that we just hung in our hallway bathroom:

I think the metal brackets that are holding the shelves have been in my 'decor stash' for longer than I'd like to admit.  I got them at Hobby Lobby a looong time ago because I liked them.  I really had no vision for them but figured I would be inspired.  So as I was going through my 'getting rid of stuff in the junk closet' project, I was debating if they were a 'keep' or 'get rid of' item.  And it all came together....

A few years ago, I bought an old vintage dresser with the vision to have this as a vanity in the bathroom.  Hubby was on board with the project (always the first hurdle) and together we came up with the vision and he did the handiwork.  He reconfigured the dresser, took off the top board, and we custom ordered our sink from a local hardware store (Lowes I think).

The intent has always been that we would use that top part of the dresser for these shelves.  But I think after the final completion of the bathroom redo (paint, shower curtain creation, dresser sink, etc), we were just DONE!  So for the past few years, this large piece of wood has been sitting in the garage.  I reminded hubby of the project and he was on it--cut the piece into two long shelf sizes and attached the brackets.  Anyway, I think we're officially done with the bathroom project now--just a few years after we started:)

Another unfinished wood project is taking up space out in the garage right now (see below).  These are pieces that need to go on a dresser that is in our house.  It's a mirror frame (need to find a custom mirror to put in here) and some 'handkerchief drawers' (I think that's what they are called).  My mom gave us the dresser but hadn't done the woodwork refinishing on these pieces.  This project will hopefully be completed by the end of this summer:

Here's the dresser (see below).  No, it does not have hardware.  I want something contemporary (new).  Hubby thinks we need to put the original pieces back on (because he's cheap?).  I think we just need to make a decision and finish the project!  So, one of the 'finishing the unfinished projects' on the list that we will complete hopefully soon will be the dresser with the pieces that go on top (currently taking up space in the garage) and then getting hardware put on.  Maybe then, we can actually use the dresser for storage!  It currently just looks 'pretty' with no purpose as all of the drawers are empty.

Speaking of hardware for a dresser, this remind me--I bought silver knobs to replace white knobs on a dresser in Nolan's room on his bedroom redo from awhile ago.  Maybe I should tackle that unfinished project too!  After all, that one might only take 30 minutes and I could even have Nolan help me!


What unfinished projects do you have on your list?  I had quite a few other unfinished projects in my 'junk closet' but made the decision to get rid of quite a few of those.  Was I realistically going to do these projects?  Sometimes just getting rid of some of that stuff helps get rid of the guilt of just never getting it done and it regained quite a bit of storage space for me too!

Cheers to finishing the unfinished projects (or getting rid of the ones you'll never finish)!


'Things to do' and Schedules!

April 27, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It's Monday morning!  A fresh start to a new week.  I actually LOVE Mondays, but I'll be honest and say that I used to dread them.  Maybe it's a shift in my career a few years ago, a shift in my thinking or that I just look forward to feeling like I have a 'new slate' of planning the week ahead?!


Since I 'work at home' with my photography business and have this 'flexible' schedule, I do have other advantages that some might not have, but it really hasn't come about as easy as it sounds (a whole other blog post), but thought I'd focus on a few aspects I'm currently concentrating on in simplifying my life.  One of these aspects is creating a LESS BUSY life for myself and family.  Huh?  Do I sound crazy?  I don't know about you, but the running from one thing to the next, barely crossing paths with my family at times is just... exhausting and not very 'soul-fulfilling.'  


Last year, I finished reading a whole book.  A chapter book.  The whole entire thing--like from cover to cover.  I'm usually a blog or magazine kind of a person, so this was huge for me.  From the small print of the cover of "The Best Yes" by Lysa Terkeurst:

1. I'm drowning in the regrets of too many commitments.

2.  I'm a little overwhelmed and a lot worn out.

3. I hope there's more to life than my to-do list.

4. I dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no.



I'm definitely a list girl!  I love my 'to do' list.  I love crossing things off.  I love breaking a task into about 3 lines (or more) and crossing them off.  And if I feel like it hasn't been too productive of a day, I might even add things to the list that I've done just so I can cross them off! ;)  What makes the list for me?  Here's my list for today:


What does this book "The Best Yes" and my to-do list have to do with each other?  How I'm choosing to spend my time.  How we're spending our time.  What's on our 'list' for the day/week.  What our schedules look like--and not just my schedule--my kids' schedules and activities along with my hubby's.  The big 'a-ha' from this book for me was this overlying idea that every time I'm saying 'YES!' to something (a task, commitment, schedule, activity, etc), I'm saying 'NO' to something else.  I want my 'YES' commitments to be my BEST YES commitments.  I have a paraphrased quote from the book hanging in our house:


So, yes, my 'to do' list has some 'for the soul' kinds of things on it today!  I wanted to have some fresh flowers in a few places around the house and literally (and figuratively) take some time today to stop and smell the flowers.  My walk to the flowers is about a mile from our house so I got to cross two things off my list in one task!  (walk outside and pick flowers).  What a great way to start the week!  



If this book intrigues you, it's yet another GREAT book I highly recommend.  If you're not a 'book person' then skip to the back pages 235-239 for all of the great quotes and overall themes of the book.  Chapter three with Lysa was a really great one with a few of these highlighted themes:

1.  "A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul." 

2.  "Instead of waiting for the time to get started to simply appear one day, we need to be intentional with scheduling it."

3.  "The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep.  The schedule you keep determines the life you live.  And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul."


So, what's your 'stop and smell the flowers' moments you have planned today?  Do you have EMPTY white space in your calendar?  Just because you have an open night or open time on your calendar, does not mean it needs to be filled with a task ;)  It's now mid-morning and I've accomplished a few 'fill my soul' kinds of things on my list today, so I suppose I better get to some of the other to-do tasks on my list!

Oh, and along the same lines, I came across a great blog read today: 8 things that Happy Moms have in common...and number six has 'my word' SIMPLIFY.



Cheers to your 'to-do' list and week ahead!







April 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It's rainy Saturday here--perfect for a decluttering project!  Or I like to refer to this as decrapifying.  I'm still debating on my next decrapification mission because I've actually tackled quite a few HUGE rooms and projects and am feeling the need for a smaller one to be able to quick cross off my list and have some immediate gratification without hours of effort ;)  But before I start on mine, I thought I'd share some of the spaces around my house that I've tackled and decrapified.


Used to be junk drawers (don't we all have those?)...and yes, I still have other junky drawers to tackle so not all of my spaces in my house look like this:

I condensed a HUGE shelving unit devoted to crafts (aka crap) and chose only the things I think I will truly use.  This is currently housed in the storage closet on the back of a door.  I'm obsessed with the clear plastic over-the-door shoe holders and have them all over the house for storage.  I have even cut them in half to be just the right size and nailed them to sides of shelving.  Helpful tip--before you arrange all of your 'stuff' on an over-the-door spot, make sure the door actually closes or doesn't scratch at the top with the metal hanger hooks (not that I know anything about that).  Of course, you can always shave the door off on the top a bit, but that might be a lot of work.  Here's the condensed craft supply area:

Or another space that my daughter, Elli, and I just reorganized....our pens, pencils, markers and a few of my books I'm reading right now (or hope to be reading soon).  This is in a small side table near our kitchen area by the 'snuggle chair.'  And yes, I have an obsession with these little organizational containers and labels.  I'm blaming that on my previous years as a teacher!

So far, not too exciting of a blog post here but I can't tell you how these little spaces bring me a sense of organization in a once cluttered spot of a bunch of 'junk.'  If you're feeling like your house is full of clutter and disorganization, this is where I recommend you start--ONE SMALL SPACE that's driving you crazy.  Once you get started on your decrapification mission on smaller projects, it can be motivating to tackle the bigger ones.  And I don't know about you, but the pens, pencils, crayons, post-its, junk drawer type stuff just seem to be....oh....everywhere.  Not to mention, you could just drag a drawer to the center of the floor and plop down in front of the TV with a good movie while you work!


So, what is clutter?  According to my clutter book, "Clutter Free" by Kathi Lipp, clutter is defined as 'anything you don't currently use or love, or anything you wouldn't pay for again.'  It's ok to give away and (gasp) throw away or recycle.  You have not failed!  You are 'intentionally making room for the things that are important to you.'  (p. 129 of her book really spoke to me :)  As you're going through any space in your house, as yourself:

1.  Do I currently use it?  

2. Do I really love it?  

3. Would I buy it again?  


See, sometimes clutter really isn't 'junk.'  You might have a lot of 'nice' clutter but it's still just that!  So find your 'homes' for all of your non-clutter items and if you're like me and could find 1,000 unsharpened pencils throughout your house or a huge tub full of sharpies (half of them not working), put your kids to work!  Have them sort them out and start throwing away or a great place to donate all of your extras to.

Back to your small space or junk drawer that you're tackling...  I would recommend dumping everything out and sorting into three piles:

1. Goes to another 'home' in the house (does this 'home' really make sense?)

2. Goes Back in the space/drawer  

3. Goes to trash/recycling/donation pile.  


Once you've narrowed it down to what goes back into the space/drawer, assess what you have and decide how you'll organize from there.  The more defined your spaces and homes are for your stuff, the more likely you'll be to put it back in the same spot each time.  You don't need fancy organizational compartments either.  Some of my drawers, I've recycled little boxes for organizing my things.


And in the meantime, if you feel so inspired, I HIGHLY recommend this 'Clutter Free' by Kathi Lipp book.  For me, it's definitely made me reevaluate many aspects of my house and my habits.  And I could be delusional in my thinking, but before I bought this book, I would not really even consider myself a hoarder or a clutter type person.  Honestly, one of the reasons I bought the book was because it had the word 'simplifying' on the cover (ummmmmm, my WORD for 2015 is simplify!) and I spotted it at the Christian bookstore in the sale section.  It was like a sign from God!

Cheers to your decluttering and decrapification mission!







The 'SIMPLIFY' intro

April 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

In January 2015, I decided against New Year's Resolutions (because I feel like I just set myself up to fail) and decided to focus on a word for the year.  I read blogs, I talked to friends and thought about it for a few weeks.  I doodled a few different words as I was debating what 'my word' was going to be and decided I really liked how the "SIMPLIFY" word looked and it was fun to write!  For me, I wanted a word that I found inspiring and encouraging but also something that could 'umbrella' many topics I've started to focus on the past few years.  So, in essence, it's like my mission statement.


I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to certain aspects of my life and well, that's exhausting and pretty hard to live up to.  I also have this creative gene in me with wild, crazy thoughts in a million different directions, yet have another aspect of myself that I consider a very 'Type A' personality.  So, I'm not sure where this combo is really categorized but I'm sure once I get going on my blog posts, it will all start to make sense or I'll just sound completely crazy!  


Along my creative lines, I then somehow felt the urge to have a logo (or a symbol) to go along with my word.  I know, totally backwards to this simplify thing right?!  The idea of a star as my 'logo' and reminder to simplify seemed like the perfect fit.  To me, the star represents simplicity, but it also represents five points.  It's sounding so simple right?! :)  I immediately came up with five overlying topics that I've either been working on or want to work on with simplifying in my own life (and family).  They are:

1. Home Organization, Projects & Decor

2. Finances & Shopping

3. Meal Planning, Diet & Exercise

4. Schedules, Activities & Balance

5. Business, Photography & Working for Yourself


Sometimes the star point of emphasis will be on #1 and sometimes it will be on #5, etc...such as life right?!  Over the past few months, I've had many simplified changes and I'm super excited about them.  I've read quite a few books (which is pretty much a first for me) and also follow some pretty inspiring blogs.  I'm looking forward to channeling my thoughts, ideas, creativity and findings in my blog for my own entertainment purposes but would love it if it inspires you in these aspects of your life!


Since I tend to be a perfectionist (at least in this type of a published format), I'm setting out a few rules for myself for this blog:

1.  Keep with the simple theme!  There may be grammatical errors, spelling errors or just random run on sentences...that's ok!  I'm not a paid blogger.  I'm not trying to start any new business with this blog.

2.  All pictures posted on my blog will be from my iPhone.  YES, keeping it simple and easy!  I don't want this to feel like more 'work' or get wrapped up into the perfectionist details of editing, composition or the perfect idealistic picture to display.  

3.  This blog will not be another stress or thing on my 'things to do' list.  It's ok if there's five entries one week and zero the next.  Whenever I feel like blogging is when it's gonna happen!


Now that you know the focus of my blog and the rules I've set out for myself, I look forward to sharing my experiences and journey with you!  Have you thought of your 'word' that you might concentrate on?  You don't have to wait until the new year to come up with your word!  On my quick google review, here are some of the pages I referred to when I was choosing my word:





Cheers!  (It's Friday and it's happy hour...)



(P.S. I'm currently obsessing over how to perfect the banner pic at the top of my page.  I stuck to my 'taken with the iPhone rule.'  I'm coming back to this one later because it doesn't have to be perfect, right?!  Clicking 'publish.' )


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