Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

How to Organize Board Games

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Now that Christmas is behind us, I find myself inspired to get my home organized again. One area in our home that always needs attention is our disorganized board game collection. Organizing your board games  and card games is easier than you think, it just requires a few organizing tools, a little patience, and the ability to let go of the things that are taking up valuable space to make space for the good stuff in your home.

My project challenge this month with Walmart was to pick one area in our house and freshen it up with some organizational solutions from the store. I have a feeling you are going to love this one and will be running out to your store to replicate this.

In full disclosure, here is my SCARY before picture. This was supposed to be a beautiful little closet for my kid’s toys, our games, and our art supplies. Each time the closet was open, I covered my head. I am a very petite woman so when I would reach for a game, I would find a leaning tower of games attacking me and often found myself in an avalanche of games and toys. 

I decided to do some research to see if I could find some ideas from other bloggers on how to rectify this situation. Although there were a lot of great magazine ideas, I didn’t find very many real family solutions until I happened upon this great post on board game organization from Raising Lemons. I used that as a template to get started and then headed to my store to create my own solutions for our problematic areas.

Here are some pictures of the items that I picked up at our Walmart store (feel free to click on them to expand).

Sterlite Large Three Drawer Units ($12.97 each)

Sterlite Medium Three Drawer Unites ($8.47)

Document Boxes ($7.92)- available in the office supplies section of the store

Avery Labels ($1.00)

Rubber Bands ($.67)

Snap-It Storage Container ($9.97)

Ziploc Freezer Bags ($4.38

All games were removed from their boxes and then each game went into a designated drawer. Larger games that had a lot of parts to it (like Blokus, Rummikub, or Monopoly) fit well into the large Sterlite drawers.

Smaller kid’s games fit easily into the medium Sterlite drawers as well as games where the board would not fit into either container (more on that soon). For really small games like Memory or Rush Hour, we found one drawer could fit two or three games, which helped to maximize this storage solution.

For larger board games, I labeled boards that we wouldn’t easily be able to figure out what they were, and set those to the side along with a couple of those irregularly shaped games (like Operation, our deluxe Scrabble, and our Hungry, Hungry Hippos). By removing the useless boxes, this tiny little pile of boards really doesn’t take up very much of our space.

We had oodles of card games, many that were dusty and had been forgotten on that top shelf, so I used two Document Boxes that I found over in the office supplies to create storage for these games. This was a great place to not only store these games neatly, but I also dedicated a little section to the odds & ends pieces that we might need for future games. The odds & ends spot houses marbles, a few extra game pieces, decks of cards, and several dice.

Large games like Apples to Apples had to use two spots, but it still beats having the boxes. I like that all of these odds and ends are concealed neatly, and it will make taking a box of games a lot more fun since there are several in just one box!

Our puzzle collection had also gotten out of control. I found a Snap-It organizer (over by the drawers/plastic bins) that has a handy handle and it all snaps together for easy toting. We divided our puzzles into two categories (holiday & other). It will make finding our Christmas collection a little easier. I cut the front of the boxes and labeled heavy-duty freezer bags with the puzzle name or description so we could locate them easily.

Since I was on a roll in that closet, I decided to get the rest of the kid’s stuff organized. I whittled their toy collection down to half and organized their art supplies into the same drawer organizers (these were all things we already owned). I had old-fashioned labels in my craft supplies so I hung fresh labels with a little bakers twine and labeled our canvas bins so the kids knew exactly what they were pulling down.

Each child now has their own coloring book drawer and all of the random boxes of markers, crayons, and pencils were all condensed into one drawer organizer.

After losing countless library books because they are mixed in with their own books, we now have one basket designated. The other books were moved down to our downstairs game cabinet because (you won’t believe this!) all of the games from our downstairs cabinet all fit in our upstairs cabinet so I could turn the other cabinet into a spot for all of their books. That is a huge storage bonus for us!

It feels like Christmas all over here again. We have loads of fun things to do, we can find them, and (in my son’s words) “We don’t have to move so many things around to get to the good stuff.” You know it, kid!

The big question is, “Do you miss the boxes?” I can’t say I do! For the games we travel with to our friend’s house (Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, etc..) we have a couple of boxes stored in the basement. The rest of the games stay at home and this solution is so ideal for our space and offers oodles of visual appeal. 

Have any tips for organizing your game collection or toy closet for the New Year? I would love to hear them!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

 

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Back From Vacation Cleaning & Organizing

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Our family has just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg for a special family reunion for my husband’s side of the family. We had the incredible opportunity to climb Clingmans Dome with Ryan’s grandma to check climbing this mountain off her bucket list for her 80th birthday. We climbed this mountain in honor of his grandfather who recently passed away from cancer as a symbol of his motto to, “live strong.”  It was a very special moment for us all and I am so proud of my two kids who RAN the entire mountain for their great grandma & grandpa. There are no words for this moment!

We are still in recovery mode from being gone for the week. Unfortunately, there were many projects awaiting me upon my return. This week on the Kenmore Genius Blog you will find me sharing a few of the strategies I am working on to get my home back on track before the kids head back to school. Be sure to read this post for strategies on back from vacation cleaning and organizing.

I am also sharing my tips and strategies for organizing my closets this week! My car is fully loaded for a trip to Goodwill to donate items from our closet. It will be nice to start the Fall with a freshly organized space.

 

 

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Tips & Tools for Affordably Organizing Your Closet

Friday, August 10th, 2012

As we transition into Fall, now is a great time to evaluate what is in your closet and establish organization so you can begin preparing to add your fall wardrobes into your closet. Today I wanted to share with you some tips & strategies for reestablishing order in your closet and offer a few great organizing solutions from a store that just might surprise you.

I always lament that I don’t have a Container Store near me and I just know that if I had access to a store like that, my closets and drawers would look so much better. Who knew that Walmart offers great closet organizers and storage solutions for my cluttered life? Walmart gave me the chance to get my cluttered room organized and today I wanted to show you how I transformed my small disorganized closet into a thing of beauty.

Let’s start with a glance into my problem areas in my drawers and room. Perhaps, these are areas you are struggling with too!

Organize the Unmentionables-

Let’s start with my drawer of unmentionables and my sock bin (pictured above) as an example of a cluttered area that could be improved upon. I can never find what I need because everything is in complete disorder. There are many items that don’t fit or don’t have a match, but I have been to busy to organize this space.

With a simple compartment drawer organizer, I now know exactly where everything is. I organized socks to the right and unmentionables to the left. It took only minutes to assemble and I now feel like I am shopping my very own store in this drawer. I repeated the same process with my kid’s drawers and my husband’s drawer.  It makes this drawer feel surprisingly spacious and, at a quick glance, I know exactly where everything is.

Organize the Scarf Collection-

I have a slight obsession with scarves. They are such a fun and inexpensive fashion accessory to add to all of my outfits. Unfortunately, my collection had gotten out of hand and I had scarves tucked into my sock bins, draped over shelves in our closet and draped over hangers. I couldn’t find the accessories I needed and had run out of room in our closet for more baskets.

With one over rod scarf organizer, I was able to to put my scarf collection all in one place and have everything organized the way that I wanted it. This same simple organizing solution would be perfect for your tights or for a tie collection for men.

Maximize Your Space-

Since we have a small closet, it is always a challenge to make this space functional and to keep our wardrobes pared down so we have enough space to move everything around. Switching the types of hangers you use can be a quick and easy solution to double or triple the space in your closet. These bulky wooden hangers were hindering my husband from hanging up his entire wardrobe and I kept finding items draped over other shelves or piled on the floor of the closet.

Isn’t it incredible how the hanger switch out can make all the difference with your space? I am a big believer that these hangers can instantly transform closets and make things spacious within minutes!

  Get Vertical With Storage-

You might be surprised to know that this is my entire shoe collection. Can you believe my husband says that I don’t need anymore shoes? Me either! I had a lidded basket in our room where I would throw all of my shoes. They were definitely out of sight, but it was difficult to find what I needed when I had somewhere to be.

Over-the-door shoe organizers have come a long way and I absolutely love this organizer  for my shoe storage. The pockets were generous enough that ballet flats and sandals could slide into one compartment, allowing me to fit my entire shoe collection on the back of our door. Vertical storage makes sense, especially when you want to free up space on your closet floors!

Make Sock Storage Make Sense-

A long time ago, I purchased these organizers for our socks. Don’t they look organized? These bins drive me crazy and are not ideal storage for socks, but we had run out of drawer space in our dresser.  By whittling my sock collection down, I was able to put everything in the drawer organizer. My husband has an extensive sock collection though and many days are spent trying to find the perfect socks for the perfect occasion.

I divided my husband’s sock collection into two piles (whites and darks) and then put them in these handy collapsible covered storage bins. They were the perfect solution and got our sock collection off of the floor so that we had space for shoe storage.

Create Hidden Storage-

Other items like belts, ties, hats, and even flip flops can take up valuable storage space. Our collections of said items, may have been all over our closet floor and not easily found. With my new shoe organizer though, my door was already in use.

The backs of my bi-fold doors to my closet were the perfect spot to hide additional storage. One side now houses my belt collection. The other side now hides hat storage for my husband. Our flip flops are neatly organized and hanging by our back door outside. I would have never thought to use the backs of these doors for anything, but this was the perfect spot for these items!

What a transformation from where we started. This is my closet after sorting and organizing our space.  I feel like I got a brand new closet and I don’t have to be embarrassed about this space anymore.

Looking to organize your closet space? Here are a few of my favorite tools from Walmart that I used to organize my space! Visit your own store or shop online to find some of these organizing solutions for your own closet!

Canopy Velvet Hangers

Canopy Storage Bins (Small)

Canopy Collection Lidded Boxes (Small)

Mainstay Scarf & Tie Organizer (used for belts)

Honey Can Do 32 Compartment Drawer Organizer (set of two)

Household Essentials Revolving Shoe Tree

Mainstays Organize & Store Baseball Caps

Mainstays Flip Flop & Sandal Organizer

Canopy Handwoven Willow Laundry Basket

Canopy 3 Bin Sorter

Canopy Medium Storage Container

Mainstays Scarf Holder (Chrome)

Looking for more tips on closet organization? Be sure to visit this post for more ideas for organizing closets in your home along with a video on how to organize your closet in under 30 minutes!

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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Free Printable Chore & Tech Time Tickets

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Today I wanted to share with you a printable that my husband created for our summertime chores and monitoring our computer time with the kids. These tech and chore tickets can be printed and used with a simple hole punch to signify if the child has used their tech time or has completed their chores.

I really wanted to spend quality time with my kids this summer and I find that screen-time really distracts them from our time together. These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting.

Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house. The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

My children are 10 (almost) and 6. This is our current list of chore activities that must be completed. I don’t punch the ticket itself until the end of the day, but morning chores have to be completed to redeem the first hour of time, then evening chores are completed and the second hour can be used.

6 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, sweep (with a quick vac) under the table after each meal, meal helper every other night, (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with laundry sorting.

10 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, wipe down both bathrooms, meal helper every other night (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with loading and unloading of laundry.

Reward- $5 weekly

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television.

A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

I will not lie, the first day was ROUGH. Two hours does go by quickly for everyone. That said, after the initial two days, we have really been enjoying our time together. We keep busy with fun outings and tackling our summer bucket list together. I find that breaking the day up with an outing seems to make the day go by faster and takes the focus off of the lack of screen time.

Today my son said, “Wow, that hour was really long!”  It was funny how he was whining about the hour being too short the first day. I think we were all losing track of how much time we were spending on our respective screens.

Everyone parents differently. This parenting strategy works for us and I hope it will help someone else out there too!

Next week I will share more about something we call, “Face Time,” in our house that requires our kids to be screen-free and to make our family time a priority.

I didn’t want to waste anytime getting these printables out to you though because they are quickly becoming a valuable part of our summer time together and I think they could be valuable to you too!

 

Grab your Printable Chore Tickets.

Grab your Printable Tech Tickets.

 

Notes on the printable- There are three tickets per sheet. These are color tickets, but you can switch your printer settings to black-and-white or draft mode to save on ink.

 

How do you monitor screen time in your house? What does a typical chore list look like for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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How to Clean Your Grill While You Sleep

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

It had been unseasonably warm in Indiana the past couple of weeks. Nothing says warm weather fun like dinner on the grill. I opened my grill for the season and, holy cow, the grill was disgusting. I am lazy about cleaning my grill though so I wanted to share with you my lazy and easy way to clean your grill while you sleep. Yes, I said it…clean your grill while you sleep.

For this task you do need an oven with a self-cleaning cycle, a scrub brush, and a small handheld vacuum.

 The first step is to simply put your grill grates in your oven on the racks. Both my oven and my grill were pretty disgusting so they both were in need of a little help for this grilling season.

Select the Clean cycle on your oven.

Once you start the Cleaning cycle on your oven, head to bed. There are a couple of things to note about what may occur in the night. First, it may get really, really hot. Be sure that you have your AC on. The second is that if your grill is as disgusting as mine, you will have one smoky house. If you are sleeping though, you might not notice it…unless it causes your fire alarms to go off. You have been warned.

When you roll out of bed, your oven will look like this. As you can see, the oven and the grill grates had a lot of gunk built up on them. All of that gunk has burnt off into ash and is now at the bottom of your oven. Don’t worry though, we will be able to get this clean, quickly and easily!

Pull your grill grates out of your oven first. Next, grab your vacuum (it can be a handheld quick vac or just attach the attachment on your vacuum) and let’s suck up all of the ash that is on the bottom of your oven. Using the vacuum will help this get clean quickly.

Rinse your grill grates off and use a scrub brush to brush off any of the ash that is lingering on your grill grates.

Finish your clean up by wiping down the interior of your oven with a damp paper towel.

Bask in your glory…part one and part two. It is worthy of two rounds of glory basking, I promise!

Tips for my friends without a self-cleaning oven:

If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, this task may require a little more effort on your part, but it can still be done easily. Upon removing any lava rocks in the bottom of the grill, spray the interior of the grill with a no-heat oven cleaner, shut the grill, and go about your day. The following day, hose down the interior of the grill and use a metal wire brush to remove any stuck on gunk from your grill.

Now that you know how to get your grill clean, it is time to use it!  I decided to start a Pinterest Get Your Grill On board where I am sharing my MomAdvice grilling favorites as well as great grilling tips, tricks, and recipes for making the most of your grilling season.

Be sure to friend me on Pinterest and follow my Get Your Grill On board for some fun and unique ideas for ways to put that freshly cleaned grill to work.

What is your favorite food to throw on the grill? Have any tips or tricks for keeping that grill sparkly clean? I would love to hear them!

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Spring Cleaning with Goodwill

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

vacuuming dirt off a green carpet

This month I am blogging over at the Goodwill Tips blog and we are talking about strategies for Spring Cleaning your home.

I can admit that I used to try to do spring cleaning in one week, but with endless activities on our calendar, it makes it difficult to devote a week’s worth of my time to just cleaning. Who really has time for that?

Instead of doing one deep cleaning try “spring cleaning” all year long learn how you can accomplish that spring cleaning all year long and how to use Goodwill to clear the clutter from your house. Let’s talk about how you can break this task up and reclaim your home when you don’t have a lot of time on your schedule!

Please click on the above pictures for photo credit and to access the photographer information for each image.

Cleaning & Stocking Your Refrigerator for the New Year: Giveaway for 1 Year of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Orange Juice

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

candy colours

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed! We would  like to congratulate Sandy N. (Comment #4) on winning this great prize! What a wonderful way for her to start her new year!

The New Year is now upon us and for me that brings with it a time of renewal for cleaning and organizing our year. I will admit that the refrigerator is one area that could use some concentration in our house.  I would imagine after all of the holiday festivities and leftovers, it might be a spot to tackle in your home  as well.

Today I wanted to share with you some ideas for cleaning out the refrigerator, some great items to refill your refrigerator with, and a giveaway you can enter to stock your refrigerator for a whole year with one of my favorite fridge essentials, Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice.

Here are some easy tips for cleaning out your refrigerator:

back from vacation and back to work

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies- Break out two dishwashing tubs and a cookie sheet . Fill one of these tubs with two tablespoons of baking soda and one quart of warm water for wiping down the interior of your refrigerator. Then use your cookie sheet and other dishwashing tub to put all of the condiments on and empty your drawers into for removing items quickly and easily so you can wipe down the interior without a hassle.

Let the Drawers Clean Themselves- Before cleaning the interior of the fridge, fill each drawer with the same amount of baking soda solution in each one and let the baking soda solution do the dirty work of cleaning them  while you are wiping out the inside of the fridge.

Wipe Down the Interior- Using a rag or microfiber cloth, dampen the cloth with the baking soda solution. Gently wipe the interior of the refrigerator and  all of the surfaces. If the washing solution begins to look murky, be sure to dump it and get another tub full to for cleaning.

Tips for Stubborn Spots- For stuck on interior stains, you can sprinkle a little baking soda directly on the spot and add just a little water to it to make a paste. Allow the paste to work on the set in stain and then scrub gently  to remove the gunk.

Put It Back Together Again- Go back to your drawers and empty them and wipe the interiors of these. Now place these back into the fridge and then take your dishwashing tub of solution and empty it into the sink.

Refill the tub with just warm water and add a dash of lemon juice to the water.  Use your rag to do a final swipe using just this water & lemon juice solution. This will remove any grit that might be left in the fridge and the lemon juice will give it a nice fresh scent throughout . Dry thoroughly with a terry towel.

Take your cookie sheet of condiments and make sure to give each of these a quick swipe with the rag before returning them. Half the battle is not having clean items in your fridge and this is a good way to start fresh. Return all of the items in the other tub to their proper homes.

Tidy the Exterior- The exterior of your fridge can often be overlooked, but it needs attention too. As a mother of two little ones, fingerprints and smudges are all over my fridge on any given day. To remove these, I spray my homemade all purpose cleaner on my fridge.

You can use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside of your refrigerator, as it is  gentle  but also abrasive enough to remove any marks. Any scuffs still left? Break out your Mr. Clean Eraser (a mom’s best friend!) You can find a generic equivalent of one of these at your local dollar store.

If you have a stainless steel appliance, dip your microfiber cloth into a little vinegar and give the outside of the fridge a good swiping with the vinegar. Then give the appliance another swipe with just plain water and dry thoroughly with a terry towel.

Restock Your Fridge- Now that your refrigerator is nice and clean it is time to restock it for the New Year. Here are ten essential items to have on-hand when restocking your refrigerator.

Ten Fridge Essentials

  1. Milk
  2. Coffee Creamer
  3. Butter
  4. Jelly
  5. Cheese- Slices & Shredded
  6. Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice
  7. Carrots
  8. Lettuce/Romaine Hearts
  9. Lunch Meat
  10. Condiments (check your expiration dates on your condiments & toss any expired items)

Minute Maid has graciously offered to give one of our lucky readers a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice to get your New Year started out right. Just imagine that you don’t have to pay for this great fridge essential for an entire year.  I am so excited for you!


Today we are offering one lucky reader a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice. Leave one comment for each  entry you wish to complete:

  • First Entry: Leave a comment and let us know which variety of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice you are interested in trying for your family- No Pulp 100% Orange Juice, No Pulp 100% Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D, Some Pulp 100% Orange Juice, or Light Orange Juice Beverage with Calcium and Vitamin D with 50 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving.
  • Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of Minute Maid and join the Minute Maid Facebook Page.
  • Additional Entry: Follow me on Twitter and get an early scoop on what I am up to!

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Orange Juice (52 coupons). Please submit your entries by Tuesday (01/10) at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

I am a spokesperson for Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice and have a relationship with the company. Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers. In full disclosure, the email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner(s), and will never be sold or given to anyone. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Entries that do not follow the above criterion will automatically be disqualified. This giveaway will close Tuesday, January 10th at 8PM (EST). I’ll announce the first name of the winner(s) that will be added to the top of this current giveaway post and contact the winner(s) by email. I will draw the names of the winner(s) by using the random number generator at Random.org from the eligible entries received. If a winner does not contact me within 72 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. The winner(s) will receive their prize from the PR agency responsible for this giveaway. 

 

Photo credits: katisworld Michelle Wutkon

Revealed: 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge Results

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Last month I decided to challenge myself to cut the clutter in our home over the course of thirty days. My house and my life has been feeling chaotic these days and I knew that a thirty day challenge is just what I needed to get back to the roots of the organization in my home. If you have been a long time reader, you may remember the results from my clutter challenge last year. I am finding by making this clutter challenge a yearly one that it helps bring me back to center again in my home.

The closet, pictured above, is representative of what my home has been looking like. The bones of organization are there, but they are hiding amidst the overflowing drawers, shelves, and cupboards of endless amounts of unnecessary items. I planned to get rid of four car loads of items from my home and challenged myself to a weekly stop at Goodwill.

Pictured here are my first three drops to Goodwill. I have another round of items leftover from our home renovation to take over to the ReStore that are currently sitting in my garage. Once our weather finally warms up, my husband & I have a Saturday date planned with our cluttered garage.  All in all, I removed FIFTEEN garbage bags and three totes of random uselessness from our home. In these bags you would find books that we will never read, toys that the children have outgrown, clothing that is too small, a bazillion plastic containers that I do not need, bedding & blankets that are never used, shoes, & items from household projects that have been abandoned.

Can I say,  I was not sad to see any of these items leave our home?

Maybe when you see some of the corners of my home now, you will know why!

There is still much more clutter to be conquered in our home, but these corners that I have worked on really have me reassured that having our home organized is an attainable goal. If I was going to offer any advice on tackling the clutter in  your home, I would say this:

Start Small…Really Small- When I would survey my house as a whole, I could immediately become defeated. There is so much to do and my to-do list on any given day is enormous. Adding on trying to organize my house to the list and it just did not even seem like a feasible goal. Instead, start with one small spot in your home that has been bothering you. It could be as small as the kid’s bath toys, a junk drawer that could give under its weight of uselessness, or simply a single shelf in your home office.  I found that once I began a junk drawer, for example, I would then start moving into the drawer below it, and then I would move to the next drawer. Most of the time it is just getting the momentum to climb that cluttered hill that holds us back from achieving a little organization that is the hardest part.

You Don’t Need Another Basket, But You Might Need Another Donation Bag- I remember when I first began organizing my home, I considered home organization to be about buying organizers, storage containers, and pretty baskets to house everything. All of a sudden my home was filled with a dozen baskets of items I didn’t need or never used. Instead of thinking of how to make the items you have more attractive, consider if you really need the items themselves. If you don’t really and truly love or use them, get rid of them!

Sentimentality & “This Was So Expensive” Has To Be Set Aside- Two things get in the way of me letting the items go in my home. The first is the sentimental feelings that I have about things in our house. Usually it is a gift, an item that was special to my children when they were small, or something that was special to me that I would like to push my children into also loving. The other thing that gets in the way is my, “This Was So Expensive,” feeling about items that we spent too much money on, but no longer have love for.  If I could get rid of these two feelings about things, I could almost gather another car load of items. Instead, I have dedicated one tote in our basement that is specifically for sentimental mementos and we are working on passing on the gadgets in our life that we don’t use on to others that can use them.

Your feelings about items might be different than mine and it may take some time to figure out what holds you back from letting things go in your life. When you feel an attachment to an item, try to address where that attachment is coming from and if there is a way that you can manage those attachments to achieve the space you desire.

Embrace Your Power to Live Small- The more I cut the clutter in my home, the more I find that I have just the amount of space that I need in my home. When my closets began to feel too small, when the cupboards are bursting at the seams, when the basement is overflowing…those are the times when I think how nice it would be to move to a bigger home. Each time I cut the clutter in those spaces, I rediscover how perfect our home is for us. Basically, I save myself from a heftier mortgage payment AND I find a renewed sense of commitment to stay right where we are.

Our story of giving things away didn’t end there though, in fact, this is a story about the coolest thing that I have ever gotten to give away.  My husband had his ’99 Ford Focus for almost eight years and it was very good to us over the years. For the last five years though, he had been price researching his dream car and dreaming of the day that he could own a Lexus.  At the end of this month, his dream car dropped below the price of my Subaru wagon and with some serious negotiating and a couple of hours in the hot seat at the dealership, he drove that car home.

We talked a lot about what we wanted to do with our Ford Focus. While we could have gotten a little money to trade it in, we knew we could make my brother’s whole year if we gave him our old car. That very day we bought our new car, his car began to leak gas and he had no idea how he was going to get around. Later that afternoon I called to tell him that we had a birthday present for him.

I felt a little like Oprah handing over those keys.

He told me he felt like he won the lottery.

We both couldn’t stop grinning.

I don’t say this to brag, but to showcase how wonderful it can be to pass on the things we have in our lives to others. No matter how much or how little you have, you can always give with your whole heart. Look for creative ways to give back to your community, pass the items on that you no longer use to someone in need, use your talents to bless someone else in your life, and live a life of great thankfulness for all that you have.

If you have taken the clutter challenge, feel free to link up below and share some of the spots in your home that have been transformed or what you plan to work on this month. I can’t wait to see your projects and hear what you have learned from this experience!

30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I know it is spring when I feel the urge to purge our home of unwanted clutter.  The spring cleaning for me is more of a year-round activity and will probably continue that way until both of my children are in school full-time. At this point in my life, who has an entire week to just deep clean their house?

March though is a true time of devotion of ridding our home of extra things to dust and care for, with a refocused spirit on loving what we already have.  I find this time of year is focused on restoring the order in the drawers, learning to part with clothing that is never worn or doesn’t fit, and finding a new way to love the space we have have the privilege of owning.

You may remember my clutter challenge from last year and what I learned from it. This clutter challenge will be repeated again this month with another round of clutter that I would like to remove from our home. This month I will be tackling one room a week and getting rid of the clutter in that room so I can make cleaning and maintaining our space easier. My goal is to take one trunk of useless items out of our home each week.

30 day challenges are still my favorite way of reaching and achieving the goals in my life. It was, in fact, a thirty day goal that has brought exercising and a commitment to healthy living back into my life. It was also a goal of mine to read more and honor my body with an appropriate amount of sleep.  Those commitments, I am proud to say, are still a very important part of my life.

Consider a 30 Day Challenge for yourself. What is missing in your life right now? What would make your life easier? I wanted to share with you the steps I took towards choosing my challenges:

Focusing my goals: The first step for me was making a focused and small goal that could be built upon. I think the challenge for me was making a small goal instead of a big one. I am what is commonly referred to as an “overachiever.” I think that is why I fail so miserably at New Year’s resolutions and the previous goals for myself. I also wanted this very focused and small goal to add an element of enrichment that would be beneficial in certain aspects of my life.

For me, the enrichment needs to happen in three sections of my life.

Enriching myself.

Examples- Exercise challenges, challenging myself to one hour of quiet time to myself, reading the Bible, writing in a journal, reading literary classics, drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, watching classic movies, learning/mastering a new craft, cooking challenges, giving up television, taking courses that enrich myself/my business, traveling, photography challenges.

Enriching my family.

Examples- Dating my spouse again, taking steps to improve our family finances, making alone time for each child, sitting on the floor and playing with my children each day, volunteering with my family, teaching my children a new craft/hobby, finding free things to do each day together, cooking with my children, making outdoor living a priority, limiting computer/television time, no spend challenges, trying to bless someone else each day, starting a gratitude journal together.

Enriching my home life.

Examples- Getting rid of clutter each day, organizing the paper flow in the house, organizing problem areas in our home, cleaning out a junk drawer each day, cooking every night, starting a garden, getting my children more involved with chores, taking inventory of pantry and closet clutter, green living challenges/making the home more energy efficient.

Balancing My Goals- I then decided that to make these challenges work for me, I would add something to my life one month and take something away the next month. For example, I add 20 minutes of exercise to each day of my life this month, but the next month I reduce clutter so I have less cleaning to do for the following month. That natural give and take is what will help me fit these challenges into my day and make them work with my busy schedule.

Reward Myself- At the end, I wanted to give myself a reward for completing the challenge. Maybe it could be a night out on the town after taking a no spend challenge or maybe it is catching on a television series after giving up television for a month.

It’s time to get out the trash bags and start chucking the clutter from my life. The problem zones in my house right now are the endless junk drawers, the kid’s toys that they no longer play with, the medicine cabinet, and the plastic container monster that seems to take over my kitchen.

On the horizon? Empty space. I can’t wait!

This month, I am cutting the clutter in our house and I can’t wait to share with you the results from this challenge! Want to take a 30 Day Clutter Busting challenge with me? I would love for you to join me! Let me know in the comments below what you plan to do to rid clutter from your life today!

Boosting Energy by Tackling Life’s Nagging To-Do List

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We all have one.  It is a nagging list of items that you intend to do, but never get done. There is always a great reason why you don’t have time to do one more thing with such a full schedule, but deep down, you know that many of the items on the list would only take a few minutes. Some of the things on your list might be routine appointments for yourself, home ownership projects that never get done, paying bills, or an errand that has been looming. How about a really embarrassing to-do? How about the fact that my daughter is four and I still haven’t ordered her birth certificate!? Oh yes, I have a nagging to-do list and it can be a total energy drainer.

I sat down and jotted down my running list of things I need to do. It is the list of things to do that swims in my brain right before bed and causes me not to sleep as well. I did a brain dump on a sheet of paper and decided that this month I would tackle all of the things that have been bugging me.

Some of the items proved to be easier to tackle than I thought. My contacts could have walked away and stood to attention by themselves because I was in desperate need of an eye exam. I called Sam’s Club to schedule an exam and they had an opening in an hour. Within one hour, I got my eyes examined, got new contacts, and took my daughter to go get her ballet shoes (another nagging thing that needed to be done). It was almost too easy.

Other things on the list took much more time. I spent an afternoon ripping out the old caulk on our tub and caulking it with fresh caulk, we repainted our bedroom to a bright and cheery color,  and I spent a great deal of time researching flight prices and getting my schedule together for the upcoming BlissDom conference.

Two thing still remains to be done…getting a birth certificate and sending out thoughtful notes to the grandparents for the holiday gifts. I promise to tackle those this week.

Let me give you an example of how much better tackling something on your nagging list of things to do could be with an afternoon of time invested.

Our bedroom really was in need of a new update. We have lived in our home for six years now and this was one of the first rooms in our house that we had painted.  This room does not get a lot of natural light into it, the art lacked the personality that I want our home to have, and it was cluttered. After tackling our closet, I was ready to make this space our own by updating the paint and decor.

We had an extra gallon of paint leftover from painting our front room and we used this same Honey Bear color in our bedroom. I already owned the bedding and just bought two throw pillows ($12.99 each) from Target to add a new accent color to the room. One shade had not been hung because we couldn’t find the hardware. After decluttering our space, I found the hardware and we hung them in the room. We took down the dated curtains and decided not to hang any at all.

My husband asked for this print of Boston as a holiday gift and I bought a poster frame ($17.99) to frame the art. We miss Massachusetts a lot and this was a way to remember our first married years together and the home and friends that we love there.  This spoke so much more of us and what we love than a picture of fruit in a basket, don’t you think? Again, this pulled in our new accent color without costing us a lot of money.

This little storage crate was one splurge purchase that we desperately needed for putting away bed linens. I have had linens in a basket underneath a side table for years. This made for much more attractive storage and keeps the linens fresh, put away, and dust-free instead of the spot they were in. I put off-season blankets in this and spare sheets for the children. I got it for $79.99 at Target, but they have it on sale this week for $59.99. (Note to self- add a price adjustment to my nagging list of things to do)

The true transformation though didn’t cost a dime. It was the absence of clutter… the wall clutter, the knick knack clutter, the useless objects clutter, the items-that-gathered-dust-but-were-never-useful clutter.

One of my favorite wedding gifts was the bowl that was pictured above. You would have never known it because it was filled with useless items. Emptied and dusted, it makes me so much happier.

The nightstand is empty and waiting for my library books to dive into, the little china saucer my best friend gave me is the perfect place to stick a glass of milk with my late night snack.

There is just so much peace in this space now and I can finally relax. One day spent tackling something that had been nagging me for months should give me many, many days of enjoyment.

(I am continuing to work on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin I recommend you read it too!)

What has been on your nagging to-do list?  Anything half as embarassing as getting a birth certificate for your child? Please make me feel better!