How To Say No

We’ve all been told a million times not to put too much on our plates, to be protective of our time, to prevent getting stressed out, to say no more often. But based on a whole lot of emails from overwhelmed readers this month, it seems like we’re not very good at saying no. : )

At least, I know I’m not.

It would be one thing if our to-do list was full of items that felt frivolous (though that’s certainly a relative term); it would be easy to say no to something like shop for ski pants, because I have no plans for skiing this year. But it’s really quite difficult to figure out what to eliminate when the things in our life, the things on our plate, are good, worthy things — like exercising, calling a friend who needs to talk something out, bringing a meal to a neighbor who just had a baby, volunteering in our 1st grader’s classroom, taking on some of the work load of a co-worker who has a sick parent, picking out a birthday present for our husband.

Which thing should we say no to? Or to quote Rachel Haack in her home tour last month: “PICK WHICH BALL I SHOULD DROP, GUILT FREE.”

Ideas for how to say no more easily, straight ahead.

Nix Color Tool

Nix color tool - scan any surface to learn the digital color (cmyk, rgb, etc) instantly

Ooooh. This looks cool. It’s called Nix, and it’s a color tool that can scan any surface and tell you exactly what the color is. Apparently, the color shows up in whatever formulation you prefer, like CMYK, RGB, LAB, HEX, and more. It’s basically the Photoshop eyedropper tool in real life! (If you don’t use Photoshop, a quick explanation: with the eyedropper tool, you can click on any color on your screen, and Photoshop will tell you instantly what the color formulation is. So handy! I use it a ton.)

This Nix color tool is clearly marketed to graphic designers, interior designers, paint contractors, and architects, but it seems like something than anybody might need now and then — maybe when you’re planning a party or a wedding. I love learning about new gadgets like this.

Any new tools you’ve discovered lately? I want to hear!

Nix color tool - scan any surface to learn the digital color (cmyk, rgb, etc) instantly Nix color tool - scan any surface to learn the digital color (cmyk, rgb, etc) instantly

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? I have an exciting weekend in front of me. I’m flying to Utah this morning! My brother-in-law Paul Rodgers (he’s married to my sister, Rachel), is being promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Army. Such a huge accomplishment! The whole family is super proud of him. Paul is an incredibly hard worker, a born leader, a father who truly loves hanging out with his kids, and he reads so much that he has encyclopedic knowledge of more things than I can count. I consider myself very lucky that he joined our family. I was only in middle school when Rachel and Paul were married, so Paul’s been in my life for a long time. What a great man he is.

Three cheers for Colonel Paul Rodgers! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

Keep reading for a really good link list!

The No Shampoo Method

In Beth’s Call it a Day interview, shared earlier today, she mentions only being able to wash her hair every 4 or 5 days, and that she would have thought that was disgusting before it became her reality. When I read that, it reminded me of three different articles that have come my way in the last month or two.

One is about people who have stopped washing their hair at all with traditional hair products and only use baking soda and vinegar. (The article is from 2 years ago, and you may have seen a dozen similar ones since then, because they’re all over the place. Do a search for “the no shampoo method” if you’d like to read more. The first time I read about the no shampoo method was in 2012, and it was from a hairdresser’s perspective.)

People who have gone the no-shampoo route seem to really love it, and rave about how much more well-behaved, predictable, shiny, and healthy their hair is. Though it takes awhile to get there; they all talk about a tricky transition period. Apparently it takes a month or two for the hair and scalp to adjust to the shampoo-free routine.

More articles and thoughts (some conflicting) ahead.

Call It A Day: Beth Ogden

Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldova, A Day in the Life

We first met Beth last year while she was in college in Elmira, New York. She’s now a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova. It’s not an easy lifestyle – there’s an outhouse involved! – but I couldn’t wait for her to take us along with her.

Welcome back, Beth.

In Moldova, teachers only have to come to school when they have scheduled lessons. Today, I have to observe another teacher’s first period class, so I drag myself out of bed a bit after 6:30. I have trouble getting up, so I’ve already snoozed my alarm three times.

Before getting out of bed, I usually turn my data on and check my email, Facebook, and messenger. I usually sleep in a nightgown, so as soon as I get out of bed, I throw on some warm leggings, thick socks, and a sweater, as well as my down winter coat and a hat. It’s pretty chilly in my room in the morning, as my house is heated solely with a soba, or wood stove.

An outhouse in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. From a day in the life of a Peace Corps volunteer.

I then start my daily morning trek to the outhouse. Living situations in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, vary greatly. Some volunteers have gorgeous bathrooms with toilets and showers, while others have no indoor plumbing. I live with a host family, and for the three months I’ve lived with them, I’ve gotten used to my no indoor plumbing situation. Our outhouse is a pretty long walk from the house, and this morning it was particularly muddy and slippery. I pass by the chickens and ducks and am thankful that the rooster has chosen not to show his face on this very cold morning. He likes to try to attack me, so I’m glad for some peace this morning. The outhouse is a very simple squat toilet. I’ve more or less gotten used to it, but I’m always very excited when I get to use a real toilet when I go to the capital city. On my walk back to the house, I stop at our hand-washing station to wash my hands. Lately it’s been mostly ice, but my host mom added hot water today, so I get to wash my hands without them going numb.

A handwashing station in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. From a day in the life of a Peace Corps volunteer.

When I return to the warmth of the house, I get dressed. Contrary to many other Peace Corps countries, Moldovans take how you look very seriously. I dress in a simple black skirt, a warm sweater, a cardigan on top, and two layers of lined stockings, as well as an additional pair of socks. The school has heat, but it’s still pretty cold, so dressing warmly is a must. If I have time, I usually put some mascara on, but that’s the only makeup I wear.

More from Beth’s day, just ahead!



Design Mom is all about the intersection of design and motherhood. I'm Gabrielle Blair (some people call me Gabby), a designer and mother of six. I think you're going to love reading Design Mom.

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