A Case For The Carefully Curated Home

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What’s The Problem With Stuff?

By now, you have at least heard the name Marie Kondo, even if you haven’t read her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, or binge-watched her Netflix hit Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Her method has taken the world by storm and is helping people finally get control over the clutter (as well as teach people how to do the impossible task of folding a fitted sheet). What I loved most as I watched the show was as people weed through their things, deciding what to keep and what to let go, they discover that what they truly value isn’t in what they own. This reminded me of what Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

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It’s one thing to have things, but it’s an entirely different matter when things have you. How can you tell tell the difference? Here are some clues:

  • There are spaces in your home that cause anxiety and feelings of overwhelm at the sight of them. These spaces may be cluttered, disorganized, and/or filled with so many items that you are not exactly sure what they are.

  • You have an innumerable amount of “just in case” items that you cannot bear to part with.

  • There are items in your home that have not been used in years and are just taking up space.

  • You have a hard time finding things that have nothing to do with memory.

  • You can’t remember the last time you saw your garage floor or the top of your dining room table or desk.

  • The clutter is impeding your life in some way (mentally, emotionally, relationally, etc)


What Defines A Carefully Curated Home

A home that has been carefully curated only contains items that benefit its residents. If an item does not serve a purpose, whether practically or aesthetically, well…why keep it? Now there are some exceptions, for example, certain sentimental items, photographs, letters, family heirlooms, etc. However, every item in the home is carefully selected and cared for.


The Benefits

There are many benefits to having a carefully curated home. Imagine that every space in your home and every item in your home has a place and a purpose. What are the positive changes?

Less anxiety

Less frustration

More peace

More contentment

Less careless spending

More organization

Less clean up

More use of what you already have

More space

If you want to know how to get started on curating your home read my post “3 Steps To Organize Every Room In Your House”. If you live in the Ottawa area and would like a home redesign consultation, visit https://www.sharlafanous.com/redesign today!

How To Have Peace In Any Situation

Recently, I have been dealing with a situation that shook me to my core. At times, it has left me angry, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, resentful, tired, confused-pretty much every negative emotion you can think of. If I am really honest, there were days that I have laid in bed praying for God to take me out of this world, because that would be so much better than dealing with this pain.

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I have already overcome so much in my life that I have faced with strength and faith. I am in no way a perfect person, but I have tried to live with intention and obedience to God. I certainly wouldn’t dare to know more than God, but I had some questions:

Why would you allow this to happen?

Haven’t I been through enough?

Am I being punished?

Do I not deserve to be happy?

Do you not love me?

I wanted God to set me free, one way or another because I very much felt like a prisoner of my circumstances. One night, as I prayed, begging Him to relieve me from this situation, I felt Him say to me, “Life is short, but eternity is forever. Your happiness isn’t the priority. You have all of eternity to be happy. I have a purpose for you. I have a purpose for your pain. I didn’t cause it, but I allowed it because I can use it. I love you, but there are other people I love that I want you to help. This life is short, but eternity is forever.”

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When I woke up the next morning, it was still in the forefront of my mind what God had spoken to me the night before. The first verse I read that morning was Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” God taught me to do just that.

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This life with all of its pain and problems is just a hiccup in comparison with eternity. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” And Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” I had a decision before me: to either pursue what I think will make me happy, or to obey God and pursue purpose.

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I have chosen to obey God. To not view my circumstances as a trap, but rather as training for what lies ahead of me. The moment I chose the difficult road of obedience, I felt peace. A peace that I had wanted and needed so desperately, more than happiness.

Have you found yourself in the middle of a situation beyond your control? Are you feeling hopeless? Helpless? Trapped? I challenge you to bring it to God. Lay it down before Him and allow Him to show you what He can do in even the most desperate of circumstances. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “

3 Steps To Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

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A new year is a upon us, and for many of us that means a new beginning, an opportunity to hit the reset button and start fresh. This will be the year that I ________! We declare our promises out loud as we ring in the new year, and maybe we even believe them. But somewhere around February 1st, 80% of us break those promises we’ve made to ourselves.

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What if I told you that this year can in fact be your year to keep your resolutions? That broken promises to yourself can be a thing of the past? Before you set off to lose the weight, launch a business, clean up your finances, or whatever promise you made to yourself for the new year, do these three things first!

1. Discover Your “Why”.

2. Develop A Growth Mindset.

3. Delve Into A Support System.

Discover Your Why

According to Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, “your “why” is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you.” Your “why” is what motivates you. It is the driving force behind reaching your goal. It is very important to really think about why you are doing something. Your “why” will determine how important reaching this goal is to you, and give you a passion to work toward that goal.


Your “why” goes deeper than facts, it involves feelings and experiences. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you find your “why”:

How will you feel when you achieve this goal?

How will your life change?

What will you be able to do that you aren’t able to do now?

Knowing the answers to question like these will help unveil the real intention and passion behind reaching your goal.

Develop A Growth Mindset

Mindset is what you believe about yourself and your abilities. According to Dr. Carol Dweck, there are two kinds of mindsets: fixed and growth. We all fall into one of these categories. Those who are successful adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset sees failure as a stepping stone toward success. Therefore, failure isn’t something to avoid, rather it is something to embrace and utilize.

With a growth mindset, you can have a setback, make mistakes, and stray off your path, because the journey is just as important as the end game. What you learn and experience in the process prepares you for future and sustainable success. You will come to understand that success is not a straight line to the top of the mountain, rather it involves hills, valleys, and a few detours.

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A few ways you can develop a growth mindset are:

  1. Focusing on progress, not perfection.

  2. Celebrating the small wins.

  3. Challenging yourself to move beyond your comfort zone.

Delve Into A Support System

As human beings, we always accomplish more and do better work in relationship. We need other people to learn from, build into, to get and give encouragement, to benefit from their strengths, as well as to share our gifts. In fact, you improve your chances of achieving your goal by as much as 85% when you share your goals and have someone else hold you accountable.

So, if your goal is launching a business, then become an active member of a mastermind group and find a mentor and a business buddy. If it’s to improve your health, join a fitness challenge group and find a coach and/or trainer and an accountability partner. The point is, if you want to see success, don’t go it alone. Find a person or group of people that will come alongside you and provide accountability, support, insight, tips, and encouragement.


Keeping your resolutions this year is possible, you just have to set yourself up for success: know your “why”, develop a growth mindset, and get support! This is your year! What will you do?

Famous Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna was the first real meal that I learned to make at around fourteen years old. As a tradition, I make lasagna every year for Christmas Eve dinner, but I also may make it if we are entertaining or as a support meal for others. It’s one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, which is great because it usually yields plenty of leftovers.

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I now make several versions of this recipe. It is really easy to tweak to your tastes. Use whatever ground meat you choose (this particular version used both ground beef and ground pork). Vegetarians can leave out the meat and add whatever vegetables they like. Sauces are also interchangeable: tomato, alfredo, etc. I once even made a version using a pumpkin sauce!


There are two things that I do to make this process a bit easier. 1) I use “no boil” lasagna noodles which allows me to skip that step of boiling the pasta first. 2) I use frozen spinach. Why? Because frozen spinach is “pre-shrunk” so you know how much that you are actually getting.

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This recipe calls for three types of cheeses, because…well… is there really such a thing as too much cheese? I mentioned that I used both ground beef and pork. I usually settle on one type of meat but happened to have some ground pork in the freezer leftover from when I made 3-meat meatballs (using beef, pork, and veal). So I thought “Why not?”.

As for sauce, well my mom’s homemade pasta sauce is my favourite, but for the sake of time I used the next best thing (which isn’t really close to my mom’s sauce but it will do), Classico Spicy Red Pepper.


Once all the ingredients have been mixed and grouped together. The process of building the lasagna is quite simple. Because I am using “no boil” noodles, I start with a layer of sauce, then noodles, cheese, and sauce again, repeat one more time, top with sauce and cheese.

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Once the lasagna is built, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven preheated at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove foil, bake for another 10-15 minutes.

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“No boil” Lasagna Noodles

2 Jars Pasta Sauce

1 lb Ground Beef

1/2 lb Ground Pork (optional)

2 Cups Ricotta Cheese

3 Cups Mozzarella Cheese

1 Cup Parmesan Cheese

1 Egg

Salt and Pepper to Taste

2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

300 G Frozen Spinach


1). Cook beef and pork in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add sauce and put heat on low and cover.

2) In a medium microwave safe bowl, add spinach and 2 tbsp of water. Microwave for 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3) In a large bowl, mix ricotta and egg with a fork until well blended. Add 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add spinach and mix until well blended.

4) In a greased 9 x 13 pan, add a thin layer of sauce so that it completely covers the bottom of the pan. Add one layer of lasagna noodles, make sure they are not overlapping (some piece may need to be broken to make fit). Spread one layer of cheese mixture, then add a layer of sauce. Repeat once.

5) Add a layer of sauce on the top, and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.


Easy As Pie! Making My First Apple Pie With My Daughter

*This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase anything from these links, I get paid a small commission at no cost to you. *

I made forty resolutions to do by my fortieth birthday. One of those goals was to make an apple pie from scratch. For some reason, probably due to my lack of baking confidence, this just seemed like a daunting task. After I did it, I realized that there was no need to be afraid of making a pie. It’s so easy!

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My 6-year-old daughter and I had fun making this pie together. We found a simple recipe to follow in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. This cookbook was a wedding gift and is filled with all kinds of easy to follow recipes. I rely on this book for most of my baking projects.

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Even though this project was on my 40 by 40 list, I also put it on my kids’ advent gift list. For the first twenty-four days in December, we unwrap a gift that includes either a book, game, or activity that we can do together. Zara was so excited to help me make this pie, while my son was content to come and observe every so often. She did great, helping me mix the ingredients and roll out the dough for the pie.

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I though making pie crust would be harder than it was. It was so easy!! I’m not sure if knowing how to do this is a good thing, considering my love for pie. I now feel confident to experiment with different crusts. If, like me, you’ve been too intimidated to try this yourself, there is no need to be. There is a reason for the saying “Easy as pie”.

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