Maribel: "I can't help it, a big part of me is Monica from "Friends". "

Newsletter#4 March 2021 story, inspirations, tips, etc...

Hello and welcome!!

I hope your year started good. Let’s think positive and see what march is offering us…

Thank you for coming to my page or to have subscribed to my newsletter.
This month I gathered you some articles, DIY ideas, wellbeing and decluttering tips, as well as the books I am reading.

Let’s discover together a new story and let’s me introduce you this month to…

YOUR STORY

1.Who are you?
I am Maribel. I am from Córdoba in southern Spain but I went to live abroad in the U.S. when I was just 22 and came back to Spain when I was 35. I am still adapting and I think I am much less Spanish now :). I guess I’m pretty much a citizen of the world. I also lived in Ireland for 5 years (still feels like home) and Germany for 1 year (I fell so much in love with it). I really miss living abroad. I majored in English and I did graduate studies in Spanish literature and Linguistics in the U.S.A. (best experience of my life). I worked in online marketing (Google especially) for a long long time, and my latest passion is copywriting and translation. 

2. Your favourite restaurant (and why?)
I have two small children and haven't been to a restaurant in ages, at least to one I have visited often. But to me, any place with a decent menú (no friend food, a variety of items and a good choice of wines) AND a good view (especially if it involves nature) is paradise.

3. Your favourite place, where you go often for a walk?
There is a small little pine forest near where I live in Madrid, called "bosque de valdelatas". It is an oasis, but like anywhere in Madrid it is packed on the weekends. I have the privilege to be able to go during weekdays, and I love the instant peace the place transmits as soon as you step a foot on it. For some reason I have been in love with pine trees my whole life. I feel like they give me the calm and peace I need, and they also represent life to me (from the greenery I guess).


TIDYING UP AND ORGANISATION
1. What is your attitude with tidying up? Enemy or friend?
Definitely a friend. As a matter of fact, ever since I was in high school, I need to tidy up in order to sit down and do some other kind of work. I can't comprehend life among piles of clothes, books, dirt or so on. I can't help it, a big part of me is Mónica from "Friends". 😉

2. Would you describe yourself as organised?
2.a. If so, why? What is your definition of organisation for you in relation to your lifestyle?
When working with others, I need to set up clear goals and break down tasks in order to accomplish something. I inherited this way of working from my early years in the U.S. Then it is also true that I am a natural procrastinator, but it is because my creative spirit just works like that. My best ideas and outcomes come when I am under pressure! 

As far as my lifestyle, I like making plans with others well ahead of time and being punctual. I never back down from things once I make a commitment, but coming back to Spain has forced me to accept flexibility from others (grrrr...) 🙃

3. What is your favourite room? And why?
My bedroom is my castle. See, when you are raising small kids, some days you are waiting the whole day to put them to sleep and then go chill out. And for me my bedroom is where I unwind: I take off my makeup, do crunches if I feel like it, binge watch Netflix, read a book, etc. It also carries a certain aura of solitude, which I appreciate SO MUCH these days!

4. Can you describe it?
The area is pretty much a square, with a slight off rectangular area where my walking closet is (it takes up one corner). The master bathroom is ensuite, with a double sink, 4 huge under the sink drawers and a big shower. My bedroom walls are painted in a very light beige colour, which I find pretty soothing and the window takes up the whole wall, to about the middle of it, and is covered with white linen roman blinds. My bed is white and it is about a queen size, with 4 under the bed drawers (typical IKEA) and there are matching white night tables on both sides of it. The bed also has an upholstered headboard which we bought separately in a very neutral gray tone. There is also a desk under the window. The best is that the bedroom looks on to a park with a pond and geese in it. 

5. What should be for you the characteristics of a room to feel comfortable?
(decoration, minimalist, flowers, colour, etc...)
It should have plenty of natural light, neutral tones, minimal decoration and white furniture. No flowers or bright colours! I also don't like cramping space with excessive furniture, or furniture pieces which are too big for the size of the room.

6. What storage / tidy up or organisational advice could you give that you regularly use for yourself/at home?
Declutter as much as you can. I am obsessed about it and so sick of having full closets and dressers with things I barely use. Clutter is the worst enemy of organization.

💡 Tips from Maribel: First, if you haven't used it in the last 6 months, ditch it. Second, don´t buy things you don't need. Third, finish something completely before you buy another one of the same (this very well applies to toiletries, make up and cosmetics, creams and so on).

7. What tool/item/object do you particularly use for tidying up? 
Big trash bag! 🚮

8. What is/are your favourite shop(s) for decoration?
When I was in the U.S. I loved Crate and Barrel. Habitat is also very cool, although they have closed down a lot of shops. I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA, but have to admit it is still the best for items like home organization and work furniture. I love Leroy Merlin for window coverings (we are minimal and they have great roman blinds), and Maison du Monde for linens. For sofas I would go with specialized stores like Natuzzi, and for other essential furniture like dining tables or mattresses I shop locally.

9. Where do you buy your storage items?
Ok, so I used to get them in IKEA whenever I went looking for something else, but lately I have purchased really good storage items in Amazon, for example a big jewelry box with plenty of drawers and great storage boxes for the closets.

10. What is the one thing you absolutely don't use but you can't get rid of it?
     And why?
Mmm... Anything that has a sentimental value attached to it. For example, my grandmother knitted a whole bed cover which is not fashionable and it is exiled at the bottom of a drawer, but I could NEVER give it away. 

💡 Tips: If you are very attached to this bed cover and it brings you joy or positive emtions; try to find it an other use or to give it an other place, where you can see it.

11. Do you need advice on how to tidy or organise your things?
    If so, what is it?
I’m always open to any advice. I don´t think there is a "one rule fits all" kind of thing. I definitely could use some advice on how to deal with cables ( I hate them so much!). Oh and also, there is a big elephant in the room for me right now which is kids' mementos: I am very sentimental now but I also realize that if I keep little mementos like baby clothes, accessories and things they have done in school every year since daycare etc., pretty soon I will have to move into a house with at least a couple more rooms in it. 

💡 Tips: Like I mentioned already in my last newsletter. You are right, there are different ways of decluttering and sorting things out. It is always depending of your character, of your routine and habits, of your family situation and of your living space. It also depends if you are doing this alone or you have the support from someone.

🔌Concerning the cables:
-Gather all your cables.
-Check all your electronics devices, if they have the matching cable.
-Make sure you have one cable per item. (Some cable are compatible to different devices; which enables you to get rid of some of them)
-The rest can be dispatched.

🧸Kids mementos:
-Keep only the best memento of each year.
-If your kids are old enough, ask them to select one item or max 5 drawings per year.

Usually, as parents we receive kids mementos and presents till they are 9 or 10 years old. So, you can really make a selection of the “best” mementos for each year. Make sure you also a special place to keep them. The best solution is when you manage to place the mementos whithin your different rooms.

YOUR WARDROBE AND YOU
1. Do you know all the items you have in terms of clothes and accessories?
Mmmm... about 70%. That's pretty good, right? lol. 

2. Do you know where to find them right away? Where are they stored?
Yes, except shoes I don't use often or are off season. My jackets and coats are at a walk in closet we have by the entry, the rest is in my bedroom. I have organized drawers by the type of activity or purpose: pijamas and stockings, thin sweaters, work out clothes, camis and sports bras, etc. Oh my… 🙊 I am now realizing I have A LOT of clothes.

3. How many pairs of shoes do you have?
I think about 20.

4. Do you wear them all regularly?
I wear about 3 pairs regularly, the rest never see the daylight: work out sneakers, chelsea black boots, and dressy black leather urban sneakers. I have a pair of ballerinas and oxford shoes for when I want to dress up a bit, but I don't use them regularly.

5. What clothes do you wear the most? Why do you wear them?
Right now I only go out to drop my kids to school and pick them up. And since it is winter time, you don't get to show off clothes too much, so I live in my good pair of GAP jeans, cute sweatshirts and t-shirts, and a great military green down jacket. For days when I want to dress up a bit and it gets warmer (Madrid winter weather can vary a lot these days), I have a great navy blazer style coat and some fitted knitted dresses. Oh and I also use a lot of work out clothes. Exercise is my best medicine in times of covid.

6. Do you use all the clothes in your wardrobe?
Not at all. At the time I use about 10 or 15% of my clothes. In normal circumstances (let´s say, no covid and an office job) I would say about 60%.

7. Do you always know which clothes to wear for the different occasions?
Definitely. I think I am a pretty good dresser.

8. Do you go shopping regularly?
I used to before we got confined in March. I didn't need anything about 60% of the time. But ever since covid I don´t feel like shopping, EVER, and that is pretty weird because I love shopping. 

9. What was the last piece of clothing you bought and when?
After many months of no shopping at all, a week ago I bought 4 knitted dresses from Zara and a stripped, long sleeved t-shirt from COS. They fit perfectly and go really well with boots (dressy and comfy at the same time, my all time favourite).

10. What is your favourite clothing shop?
Lately I love COS. And I don't usually like boxy, big clothes, but they have really good t-shirts and sweaters and the quality is good. I also love Topshop and Urban Outfitters. I went there when I wanted to force myself to step out of my comfort zone and buy something different. Unfortunately they are not common in Madrid. I miss them!

11. Are you a cicada or an ant with your clothes, accessories and shoes?
(which means you keep all your clothes or you sort them out regularly?)
I used to keep them all for years, but after many moves (6 places in 10 years) I force myself to sort them at least in every change of season.

12. Do you need advice on how to tidy or organise your wardrobe?
    If so, what is it?
I have changed sizes quite a few times because of going through pregnancies, so I think a good advice is how to know if something fits you well, and what are 10 essential pieces to have for every season (I viciously read articles about that topic whenever I come across them). And also, how to organize socks (for example, I try to separate sports from dressy socks but I always end up being in a rush and throw everything in one drawer at the end).

💡 Tips:
🧦 -Use boxes (old shoe boxes or others) depending of your drawer’ size to separate your different socks.
-You still need to “train” yourself at the beginning to throw your socks in the right box 🎯 (after a while, this will be automatic!!)

👚Do not hesitate to try your clothes on (in front of a mirror) and ask you the following questions:
-Do I still like it?
-Does the cut still fit me?
-Do I have opportunities to wear it?
-Pay attention to the emotions that the clothe arouses in you.
=>Emotions + = keep it!
=>Emotions - = give it away!!
And if you can, ask a friend to help you.

Keep only the clothes:
-You love
-You wear with pleasure
-You wear regularly (except evening dresses for instance)
-Which fit you

Concerning the essentials basic pieces, you can find a lot in internet, especially on pinterest; this is all based on your style. I have selected this pin from pinterest from Penny Edem.

UPCYCLING - RECYCLING
1. What do you do with the objects and clothes you no longer use?
We list them cheap in a sort of Craig´s list here in Spain called Wallapop. People can get really cheap with bargaining so if they piss us off we give them away for free to people we know. We recycle those which are in a bad shape in a city recycling station near our home. 

2. Do you have an address for us?
Unfortunately not!


BOOKS

This month I would like to present you 2 books I am reading at the same time. Both are again completely different from genre. I love to mix different genres and keep learning and developing myself.

📚A French book about personal development (available in French): Vivre la sagesse toltèque, c'est malin! from Xavier Cornette de Saint Cyr.

This book is in Fench; however, this topic is universal and you can surely find a perfect book about this topic in your language.
Do you often find yourself thinking that "you suck", that "you're not going to make it" and that those around you definitely don't understand you? What if you simply change your point of view?”
Toltec wisdoms are ancestral and show you how to let go and regain power over your life.
This practical guide enriched with exercises and tests, learn how to :
- Speak without judging.
- Detach yourself from words that hurt you and stop enduring toxic relationships and situations.
- Free yourself from assumptions and parasitic thoughts.
- Abandon perfection and do your best every day.


📚An English book (available in German ): “A fatal grace - A Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Book 2” from Louise Penny. (Winner of the 2007 Agatha Award for Best Novel)
Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.”


COOKING

Every week I use and try to publish my weekly menu suggestions. What I usually cook at home. This enables me to plan the meals in advance, to make sure all the necessary ingredients are on my food shopping list. You save time and money. I usually plan the meals / recipes according to our internal organisation and routine. You can find my current, as well as, my older menus on my blog page:

💡 Tips:
Do not throw away the water when you cook vegetables!!
You can either use it:
-To prepare a sauce, a soup, etc…
-To cook rice, pasta and give them a bite more taste.
-When it's cooled down to water your plants.

Need cooking inspirations?


DIY

Bird feeders

As we are experiencing a cold winter, this is the right time to let your creativity explode 💣 and help mother nature and the birds to survive during this period of the year.
I am always looking for new ideas, inspirations on how to recycle my objects at home.

With this DIY ideas you do 2 good actions at the same time:
-Recycle your objects ( I always say; I give a 2nd life to my items).
-Help the birds during the winter time.

I discovered a web page where they suggest 13 different ways of DIY bird feeders, which I would like to share with you.

DIY bird feeders


TIPS

How to keep your knives sharp

Knives are a very important part of the kitchen preparation and the cooking. Like any other tool that you use, you want to make sure they are in good condition in order to produce good results, save you time by cooking and last long.

1) Wash them by Hand.
2) Store your knives Properly.
Your knives should have a dedicated storage spot all to themselves. You can dedicate a whole drawer just for them or a wooden or knife block is also a great place to store them.
3) Cut on the right surfaces.
Avoid hard or metal surfaces, such as stainless steel, granite and aluminum. Cutting on wood, plastic or polyethylene is usually fine; as long as you are using a cutting board made out of the proper materials.
4) Use a honing rod, a whetstone or a mug or cup to sharpen them.
5) Take care of your knives
When you keep your knives sharp, store them properly and use them on the appropriate surfaces, they are likely to last much longer. Remember, after sharpening your knife, quickly rinse it with water and dry it with a soft towel to remove any excess metal shavings.


WELLBEING

I would like to share an article I read about “slowing down” and let you discover the experience and the vision of the author.

Slow Down: How the process of “slow” has changed my life.
Rethink with Rachel

By Rachel Botsman

How good are you at slowing down?

Read the article


LAST WORDS

From my motivation monday quote:
 “Make today so awesome that yesterday gets jealous.” 

I wish you a fantastic month of march. Enjoy every little thing and take care of yourself 🙏🙏🙏

What can I do for you? Are there any topics you would like to read? Would you like to share your favourite recipe? your book? or
Would you like to be part of my newsletter and tell us your story? Contact me!!

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Marie