De-cluttering my life

I recently joined a Real Estate team, Press Play Realty and they required that I read the book ‘The One Thing’. I had heard a lot of “The One Thing” lingo talked about at the office so I had a general idea that it meant focusing in on the one thing that you should do to make your life easier and more successful.

I love this quote from Gary Keller in the book:

“The doors to the world have been flung wide open, and the view that’s available is staggering. Through technology and innovation, opportunities abound and possibilities seem endless. As inspiring as this can be, it can be equally overwhelming. The unintended consequence of abundance is that we are bombarded with more information and choices in a day than our ancestors received in a lifetime. Harried and hurried, a nagging sense that we attempt too much and accomplish too little haunts our days.”

 

This really resonated with me in the sense that I often try to do too many things at once but I am also easily distracted by my surroundings. I actually didn’t at first connect this to my home and wanting to minimalize here too, but oddly enough I’ve ended up in this place where I want to get rid of all the clutter and distractions at home to make life more simple here as well.  My husband asked me what got me started on all of this just yesterday and I told him I wasn’t even sure. He likes the idea of getting rid of stuff too, but I have an inkling that he may think I’ve gone a little cuckoo as I’ve slowly torn apart our home little by little in the evenings this week.

I’m a total YouTube and podcast junkie, I’m always listening to something inspiring when I’m getting ready for my day, so I think I first heard the idea of minimalism from another YouTube entrepreneur but I’m not totally sure. Actually now that I really think back, it may have gotten recommended in my YouTube feed after looking up how to pack everything in a carry-on for a two week trip because the concepts are similar (we are leaving for Europe in a couple of weeks and want to take everything in our carry-ons).  In general, I think it all just kind of connects with ‘The One Thing’ for me because no matter what you do in life, the more you can simplify it, the easier it will be and the more likely you are to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to get done. Whether it be picking out your outfit in the morning or trying to find your next real estate client 🙂  I also think the inner desire for this goes along with wanting to have a farm someday and live “the simple life” …if there is such a thing.

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I envision this being really great for our finances overtime too if I can keep up the minimalist efforts. Let me tell you about my shopping habits.  I have always have been a bargain shopper. I go straight for the clearance racks, I never pay full price for anything except maybe food, and I love to thrift shop. The bad thing about this is that I shop too often so even though I spend really small amounts at a time, it still adds up to a lot. I also have a tendency to buy things just because they are cheap but then they don’t get used because it wasn’t something I actually needed or wanted, which is super wasteful.It certainly doesn’t help that Target and TJ Maxx are both within a five minute drive from my house!

The purge.  That’s what I’m calling it.  Sounds like a scary movie and it kind of looks like one in our spare room right now where I’m storing all the stuff I’m getting rid of. We will be having a yard sale in two weekends before we leave for Europe because why not try to make some money off of our junk?!

Here are the types of questions I’m asking myself as I go through everything in my house:

Have I used this in the last six months?

Why do I have this?

Am I saving this “just in case”? If so, can I re-purchase it later inexpensively for one-time use?

If I were to go shopping now, would I still buy this?

Will my friend/family member that bought this for me actually be mad if I got rid of it knowing that it would make my life less stressful to let it go?  Or would they even know?

Does seeing this item make me feel guilty? (i.e. my scrapbooking supplies because I never scrapbook anymore)

Do I have multiples of this same thing?

Would someone else be blessed with this at our yard sale or at the thrift store?

And a final reminder I always tell myself…none of these things go with me when I leave this Earth so really none of them matter 🙂

Have you been trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle? If so, have you been successful at maintaining a de-cluttered home? How has it impacted other areas of your personal, spiritual, or work life?

Some Pinterest inspiration to leave you feeling inspired to de-clutter too:

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Honey for Days!

Before I start, please remember that Daniel, my husband, is the beekeeper of our household and I just help with photographing the journey and in the honey extraction process, so my terminology and expertise is limited but I’ll do my best to explain the extraction process. I’m also going to include links to equipment used (or similar) on Amazon for those who are looking for the different tools they might need if they are considering beekeeping. Most local farm stores will have your basic supplies as well.

With that being said, we extracted honey on Sunday and ended up with about 4 & 1/2 gallons!  We were hoping for at least 2, so this was really exciting. This is only our third season of honey extraction: Spring 2015, Fall 2015, and now 1st day of Summer 2016. What a perfect way to kick off the first day of summer this was!

The process is a bit time consuming (and sticky) but so worth it once you see the “liquid gold”as my brother-in-law, Dimitry, would say.

Daniel has been keeping an eye on the hives all spring, checking the individual frames within the boxes to see how full they are getting and how many of the cells are capped by the bees, indicating they have filled the individual cells with honey and they are ready.  The pictures below will better explain 🙂

Here you can get a visual of what inspecting the boxes looks like. Daniel doesn’t always suit up, it just depends on whether or not he’s actually pulling out the frames for a thorough inspection. He’s pretty brave! He uses a smoker that helps to calm the bees before moving around the frames. Similar/same here  He uses the quickstart pellets with the smoker to create the smoke. Similar/same here

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This standard hive tool as pictured below is used to move around the frames inside the box during inspection.  Similar/same here

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We have a couple of different types of frames inside of our boxes, some that are handmade and the individual cells are made from actual wax, some that are plastic with wax coating. The cells are the little octagon shapes in the frames that you would normally associated with a beehive. I suggest looking on Craigslist or OfferUp for frames/boxes, we’ve found some pretty good deals in the past!

The image below shows a frame that would not be ready for extraction. The bees have only begun to fill the cells with honey. This picture was taken earlier this spring.

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Now, don’t be confused with capped honey cells and cells that have baby bees or “drones” in them.  The babies are basically cocooned inside the cells and covered and as they hatch or are opened, you can see their white larvae-like bodies take form, as you can see below in this image from the bottom half-up. The lower right half corner of this image is covered cells with honey…see the difference? Drone cells look similar to the baby cells except they are much larger. I’m not going to go into explaining the role of the drone bee here since the purpose of this post is to go over extraction, but you can read a general overview about them here.

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So ideally, the frames you want to extract honey from should look like the one below, almost entirely capped and filled with honey.

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So Daniel goes through the hives and pulls out all the frames that he finds are ready for extraction.

We use this extractor  and it does the job. It’s a two-frame extractor so you can extract from two frames at once. The struggle we have found is that because you’re putting two frames in the barrel at once, there can be an imbalance in the spinning process. Also, we’ve experienced the handle falling off of this extractor, not sure if all of them have that defect, but it’s something to be aware of. It’s more of a nuisance than anything, but still usable.

So, before putting the frames into the extractor, you have to individually un-cap all of the cells that the bees have so lovingly capped. (Sorry bees!) There are a couple of ways this can be done. You can use a comb like we did here, or you can use a hot knife which takes some skill and we haven’t tried yet.  We’ve heard that some people prefer the knife, but some prefer the comb, so “to each his own” 🙂

As Daniel uncaps the cells (which is bee-created wax), we scrape that off into a bowl to strain excess honey from later. That wax can also be used to create candles and other fun things, but Ain’t nobody got time for that right now in the Topov household!

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So once either side of two frames are totally uncapped, we drop them into the barrel cavity and spin them really fast so all of the honey is EXTRACTED and goes to the bottom of the barrel. Getting a good visual yet?  Here’s a better image of the inside of the barrel from the manufacturer’s site.

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Once we’ve completed spinning all of the frames to empty the honey cells, the honey is at the bottom of the barrel and there is a spout to simply pour it out. Now, there are always going to be chunks of wax that end up in the honey so you really do need to strain out at least all of the big stuff if you just want straight honey. We use a very basic method for this, with a straining pan. Similar/same here It just drains through the strainer into a bowl. You can actually use this strainer over a 5-gallon bucket but we never have a sanitary one of those lying around. Who does, really?!

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Once strained, that’s really it. Honey doesn’t need preservatives and DO NOT BOIL it to kill bacteria, it’s totally unnecessary and it will actually kill the health benefits of honey.  I’m sure most people know that, but just in case 😉

I think I covered basically everything for the process that we use, but please feel free to ask questions further.

One last quick mention, because people are generally misinformed about bees. Honeybees are NOT aggressive and if we can do this process, so can you. We live in a cul-de-sac, not on a farm. Just check your city’s regulations and make sure your neighbors are comfortable with the idea but if you’re giving them honey, they probably won’t mind as we have found. This is so much less scary and simple than I ever imagined. Give it a go!

HELLO WORLD, a little about me, etc.

I decided to create this blog so I could have one platform to share tidbits about my life, my interests, and my career. Lately, I’ve been anxiously wanting to connect with others in my community that also have honeybees or chickens in their backyards and/or are growing some of their own food. If I’m being honest, it’s my husband, Daniel, who led us in this adventure and does most of the hard work and I basically just reap the benefits and brag about him…

I hope to one day have the same passion about gardening and bees as my husband does. I’m just busy being obsessed with our four chickens at the moment. Their names are Buffy, Chappy 1 & Chappy 2 (lookalikes),  and Snow White. They produce the best eggs in town, in my opinion.  We actually tried to buy a real farm a little over a month ago, one called “Sweet Briar Farms” that came with 135 chickens and the prettiest greenhouses Daniel ever did see, but our offer was outbid by another buyer. It would have been a big risk for us anyways and a lot to maintain, so I think it all worked out for the best. Having gone through that experience though and spending hours dreaming of “what could be”, we now have a vision to someday move beyond just our backyard homesteading operation.

I also have a cat named Tesla that hates everyone except Daniel and me so the only way I can show her sweet side is through Instagram, which I just might do a little too often. Sorry followers.

 

We moved to Kent, WA from Spokane, WA in 2012. The transition was hardest on me with leaving our family, friends, and church home behind, but after almost four years living in a suburb of Seattle, I think I kind of like it here.   The rain can seem over-redundant at times but all the green around us makes it a reasonable tradeoff for me.  I’m grateful to be a few hours drive from our Washington coastline. I always tell people that “nothing is more beautiful than where the mountains meet the ocean” and that place is basically in our backyard. So, I gladly endure the rain.

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La Push, Second Beach

 

My husband is an Electrician for Local 46 in the Union (I think that’s the right Local, but don’t quote me) and I am a Realtor with Keller Williams Puget Sound.  “Do you know anyone that is looking to buy or sell Real Estate?” is what I should be asking, so hey, do you know anyone that is looking to buy or sell Real Estate? Kidding, but seriously though. I may occasionally share Real Estate news and statistics if I think it’s relevant to my community or just crazy stories here and there about a day in the life of a Realtor.

I started dabbling in running about this time last year and ran my first half-marathon in July 2015 and am registered to do the same one again this year (See Jane Run, Seattle). I don’t enjoy running, but I appreciate running, if that makes any sense. I like the way I feel after a run and the discipline it teaches me to endure something that is not pleasant knowing that it will have a positive outcome for my health. While we are on the topic of health and me,  I also like doing a Whole30 every now and again. Look it up if you don’t know what it is. I think everyone should know about it and try it.   #itstartswithfood

I just put a hashtag in a blog post, am I supposed to do that? No idea.

I’m not sure where exactly this blog is going. I’m not much of a writer at all, I tend to over-use commas and parentheses.  I’m also terrible at organizing my thoughts and my emotions, which may have already been evident from this post alone.

Anyways, it’s almost 12pm and I usually go to bed much earlier, so I need to wrap this up before my head falls on the keyboard and I accidentally delete all that I’ve written.  Thanks for reading the splatter of thoughts and ideas above! Comment if you have any questions about me, our backyard operation, or… anything I suppose.

Be Blessed!