Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week 16: Time to Change it Up

I'm back.

After a week off of decluttering due to some major road-tripping, I am back in the saddle.

This week brought some steady warm Spring weather, the most we've had yet, so I figured this would be as good a time as any to tackle my closet. I'll probably do another post like this in the Fall when I need to tackle the Summer clothes again.

A few years ago I came across this concept of a Capsule Wardrobe.  My dream is to have a wardrobe like that, but I just am not there yet.

Between work clothes, home clothes, work out clothes, and grungy work outside clothes, I really couldn't pare my closet down to 33 items.

BUT, a pare down was needed nonetheless.

I feel like I can get ready so much faster when I have less to choose from. And I actually feel like I have more options when most of my clothes can be switched around and coordinated with each other.

So, I go by a few rules to try to keep my wardrobe as minimal as possible:

1. Shy away from items that will only go with one thing.  Have the majority of your clothes be solids, a few stripes, and a few patterns.  That way most can be switched up and used multiple ways.

2.  Do not go to stores 'just to look around.' Unless you are going in there with no means of purchasing (i.e. your wallet is left at home, you have no cash or card) then you might as well not go in and look. Because there is always a sale and always something you didn't realize you needed.....until you saw it. #Target

3. At the end of each season, pull out clothes that you never wore.  Pass those on immediately.  Items that you put on and then took off because they didn't feel right, fit right, or go with anything - give those away, too.  Items that you wore just a couple times but think you may wear more next season - put those items in a separate bag/box.  When that season comes around again, don't open the bag unless you remember you have something in there that you really want. Chances are you will go the whole season without even missing what's in there.  At the end of the season - pass it on.

As I pulled all my winter clothes out I did #3. I tend to like my winter clothes a lot more than my summer ones, so I happen to have a bit more. I'm trying to whittle that down.

 Before: I've let it get a little over-run....

 After: ah, so much better....

With the end result, I felt like I could breathe again! This is the whole of my summer clothes, plus a couple cardigans and jeans because it can still be a little cool.

I know there are a lot more tips out there to keeping your closet under control - I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Week 15: Here we are at Friday

This week's decluttering didn't happen.  Most of the week was consumed with tying up loose ends and packing to head on a road trip to Boston.

So, this week a break is happening, and I'm posting these thoughts instead.....

We call it Good Friday. But what made it so good?

High noon came and it went.


A ripped temple veil.


What's so Good about Friday?

The war was over.  But Satan thought he had won.

But, praise the Lord, Sunday is coming!


Songs minister to me, as they do to so many others.  I love to listen to this one on this day.

So long, you wages of sin go on,
Don't you come back again
I've been raised and redeemed;
You've lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle at
High noon in the valley
In the valley of the shadow

Friday, April 7, 2017

Week 14: Put the kids to work

This week is Spring Break in our house. We've had a few travels planned, but there were going to be a few days that we were going to be home.

I still wanted to get my weekly de-clutter in, so, I enlisted the kids help since they were around.

I know it's kinda like shoveling the driveway when it's still snowing, but this mess needs managed, even it it's going to be wrecked shortly after we finish.

 When we were looking for a house a few years back I really desired a basement. For two reasons: a place to go during tornadoes and a place to put all the kids' toys.  Ironically, it kinda looks like a tornado went through....

Unfortunately, basements were out of our price range.  But, we found a Ranch with a one room attic space above.  This became the play room.

Also, because it is upstairs and out of the way, it often is where things get dumped and set aside to be dealt with later.

This was that 'later.'

In my quest for minimalism, my children are the biggest deterrent.  I feel like we do a pretty good job of not buying a lot of toys (we have grandparents that do a great job of that themselves!)  but they still accumulate a lot of rocks, strings, papers, and all sorts of random miscellany that it truly boggles the mind.

I do desire less, but I have decided that at this season in life, some of this will just be.

And it did make my heart smile when we were all done and Madeline says, "Mom, when we get rid of extra things it makes me feel less crazy and a lot cleaner." 

I think that summed it up quite nicely.

After the clean-up purging what we ended up with was:
-Building Blocks
-American Girls Dolls
-Toy Kitchen and food
-One Rubbermaid container that holds a variety of toys. But if the lid doesn't fit on, something has to go.
-Oh, and my chairs. Can you tell I have a problem with chairs?  I really should part with a few of them, but I love the eclectic mix and being able to pull a hodge-podge of chairs out for guests. Plus, the kids can build great forts with them.

In our quest for less, we try to keep all toys contained to the play room.  There are a few things in the kids' rooms, but most of what is there is craft projects, stuffed animals that they sleep with, and books.

Their rooms will no doubt be tackled in the near future.

But first, I think I need a breather after this one.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Week 13: Tackle that Stack

At one point in time I had stacks and stacks of magazines.

Real Simple, Country Living, Dwell, This Old House, Food Network Magazine

These were my favorites.  And I kept every single issue.

And, once again, the Flood of 2013 took care of that stash.

And made me realize that I really didn't need to keep them around anyways.

But I really like flipping through magazines, having a stack waiting on me for weekends, road trips, and sitting outside in the sun.  And some of the articles are really good and I want to keep them. And some of the pictures inspire me and I want them around.

But I don't like the clutter they create so there are a few things I've done to tweak it so that I can still get my magazine flip-though fix and still have those articles and pictures around that I like.

1.  The library. Our local one has quite a bit to choose from so I can get my fix from there. PLUS, they haven't recently made it possible to check out magazines through my Kindle, so I can read them that way, too.

2.  This binder.  Magazines that I do get (I get a couple subscriptions as gifts) I flip through, and the articles and pictures that I really like, I tear out. I then slip them into clear sleeves in this binder.  That way I can easily find that certain article I was thinking about, instead of trying to remember which issue I read it in.

So, I pared down what had started to accumulate and this is what I have remaining. My two years worth of Dwell. I no longer get the magazine so that pile won't keep growing. There are so many pictures and articles in each of those issues that if I tried to rip them out and put them in my binder....well, it would be the whole magazine in there.

Also, only the past year's worth of This Old House.  As a new issue comes, the oldest one will get tossed out. That way this stash stays under control, but I'll still have a pile to flip through when I want.

On a totally unrelated note:

My fig tree. 

It was gifted to me last summer and I was instructed that when winter came I just needed to move it into a cold, dark garage and it would hibernate for the winter.

I did that.  And I thought for sure I killed it.  But, about a week ago, I noticed some green!

So, I moved it to our living room so it could start to get some sunlight.  It is so fun to see something you thought for sure was dead, start to grow and show signs of life.

I wonder if that is just a small bit of how God feels about us?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 12: Perhaps the Grossest Place in the House

We have a child in our house who gets quite anxious over the thought of storms.  And, as it so happened, we had a tornado warning in the middle of the night a few weeks back.

This child has not really let go of that since.

Yesterday she got an idea to create a Tornado Kit so we are always at the least in her mind.

For us, we don't have a basement (boo.), so our place to go during a tornado warning is the kids' bathroom.  So, it made the most sense to have her disaster kit in that room.

Well, when it came time to figure out where to put it, I decided that this room needed a 'little' help so it was the next place to tackle in the declutter mission.

There are no linen closets in this house so when we moved into this house we had to come up with a solution. This IKEA cabinet was the pick for two main reasons:
1. It fit in the corner
2. It wasn't so big that we could just keep stuffing things in there. It created a small limit as to what we have and I like that.

That being said, we still managed to stuff quite a bit in there.

It doesn't help that this bathroom is the one that all 3 kids use on a daily basis.  To say it was a little gross is an understatement.

So, Hannah and I pulled everything out, determined what was in there that was never used and taking up space. Tossed a few expired items, donated a couple, and organized what was left.

Oh and we had to have a designated space for that Tornado Kit.

In keeping the bathroom uncluttered and simple I try to stick to a few things:
1. Each kid has their own towel. They are responsible for it. And, contrary to popular belief, it can be used more than once.  There are a few more towel we keep stocked for guests but only what will fit on those two shelves. Thankfully, towels are washable, so we don't have to have an infinite amount.

2.  Each week a different child is in charge of the bathroom upkeep. They are responsible for keeping the counter clean and the floor picked up during the week, and cleaning the bathroom on the weekend.

I actually feel like this room is a work in progress, and it probably always will be.  As these kids get older their messes are going to involve more than just tooth paste in the sink and clothes left on the floor.  We'll have to come up with something eventually to deal with teenage clutter.

But, for now, we'll work at keeping that tub clean so we have a place to go during storms...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Week 11: A little Controversy

I'm coming up on a dilemma....if I do whole rooms every week I am going to run out of posts pretty quick.

Spoiler alert: I don't have 52 rooms in my house.

But, I probably have 52 different areas that can be addressed. So, I'm focusing on one such area this week. 

And it may be a bit controversial.


I love books. I love to cuddle up with a cup of tea, a great classic, and get lost in the pages.

And I love it when I see my kids enjoy the same thing.  No, I am not telling you to give all your books away.  But maybe evaluate what you do have.

Prior to moving to our current home I had ALOT of books.  There were quite a few boxes that were moved that contained just the books I had collected over the years. I just couldn't bear to get rid of them.

But one thing helped me rethink the need to have ALL of the books.  This:

A large number of my books were ruined when our pipes broke and dumped a foot deep worth of water into our house. 

It was a sad day (understatement) but it definitely caused me to rethink things.

Thankfully some books survived, and most of the kids' books made it through. But as we have re-built out collection, it's with a little more thought.

If a book has really changed me, made me think, challenged me - it's a keeper.  If it's a book that I could read 10 times and it doesn't get old - it's a keeper.

The rest can be found at the local library or borrowed electronically from there as well and downloaded onto my Kindle.

Side note: a few children's books that are staying around.  All books by Mo Willems.  Pigeon books and Gerald and Piggie books. If you haven't read them yet with your kids, please do.  I think I enjoy them as much as my kids.  And a collection of books from my own childhood. I remember my mom getting these for me and feeling so proud of myself when I could finally read them. 

So, what we do have and how we keep it contained:

After shots.  Even with my 'rule' on what books stay and what books go, we still manage to collect some anyways. I did a going through and ended up with about 20 books that are going to be passed on.  Two IKEA books shelves help keep what we do have corralled. 

Children's books that tend to be flimsy paperbacks, and small board books, all get contained in the baskets.

I started using those when the kids were young and it has worked really well. Each basket probably has 15-20 books in them.  It makes it look neat and put-together, and it's quick clean-up for the kids.  

I also keep it old-school with photo albums. I've been filling the leather-bound ones since we were married.  But recently I'm discovering that it's harder and harder to find them. Everything is going digital and if people print off pictures, they print photo books. I may have to transition that direction in the near future.

So, did I stir up a controversy?  Is there someone out there who thinks that there is no such thing as too many books? I'm guessing there is....because some days I kinda fight that feeling myself.

Week 10: Maintenance

Whew. I've had a cold/bug/flu that has been beating me up for the past two weeks. This post was supposed to make it up last week but time slipped away from me.

So, this week's Pare Down - well, actually LAST week's posted this week - is taking a slightly different vein.  I'm here to encourage you.  If you are contemplating paring down and it looks like too big of a mountain to tackle or you've done a bit and just really wonder if the fight it worth it - consider this up side of when it is done - despite being sick for 2 weeks, the house still managed to look decently clean/put together. And it's not because all the people in the house are on the same page with me - we have 3 children that live here and DO NOT have the standards of 'picked up' that I do. I'm sure you can relate.

But when there is less to manage, it can be managed in less time.

I have seen that lived out here. So, if you are in the middle of that battle, keep working at it. One corner, one space at a time.

My week 10 consisted of tackling a pile of papers that needed to be addressed (i.e. bills, permission slips) cleaning off the kitchen island, and taking care of the final tax paperwork (yuck....but necessary).

There wasn't a huge purge this week. More like a maintenance. But it took about 30 minutes total.  And gave me plenty of time to do other hack and cough, take care of children who were hacking and coughing, and try to get to bed early and hope I felt better the next day.

Now that I am feeling better...on to Week 11!
And here's to fresh air and Spring! It's got to get here eventually.....