10 Spaces You May Be Forgetting To Clean

Raise your hand if there are areas in your home which you keep putting off cleaning? There are several spaces in my home that I tend to forget to clean, I put off, or it’s just not in my regular cleaning schedule. Some of these areas I have incorporated into my regular cleaning schedule, but there are other spots that I will notice how dirty it has gotten and decide I can put it off no longer! Today I wanted to share with you 10 spaces you may be forgetting to clean.

The FIRST area is ceilings. Oftentimes we neglect to clean the cobwebs from our ceilings. We may notice them right before we are ready to host a big event in our homes, then frantically clean ALL the ceilings, but typically day to day we don’t notice dirty ceilings. I struggle to clean our ceilings because most of them have popcorn texture, making it very difficult to clean without being rained on by ceiling texture!

SECOND, another common overlooked area is ceiling fans and light fixtures. I have built into my cleaning schedule cleaning these things whenever I deep clean a room, but since they are somewhat out of site (like the ceiling), it can be out of mind and you don’t realize how dusty the light fixtures and ceiling fans have become.

The THIRD item that may not get cleaned often is drape or curtain rods and the drapes/curtains themselves. I just use a multi-purpose cleaning spray and microfiber cleaning cloth to clean the drape rods off. You will definitely need to read the tags on your drapes to see the best way to clean them. I have some drapes in my home that I wash in the washing machine, and others that I just shake out the dust outside.

The FOURTH area that we may forget about is our air vents, and along with that would be changing our air filters. We are so bad about remembering or having a schedule to change our air filters. I know there are some subscription services that will send air filters to you automatically at the duration you choose, which could be a good option so you don’t have to remember. I like to vacuum our air vents and clean them with a multi-purpose cleaner every once in a while, because they certainly get dirty!

The FIFTH space that may get overlooked is the vent screens in our kitchen exhaust fan above our stove top. These can get particularly dirty because of all the grease and food particles that get pulled in through the vent. I don’t typically use Dawn dish soap, but I have it on hand to clean really greasy areas. I soak mine in hot water with the Dawn dish soap and that seems to cut through the grease. Alternatively, I have heard that you can wash them in your dishwasher as well.

Speaking of dishwashers, the SIXTH item is the drain screen at the bottom of your dishwasher. It’s important to clean these as they can get clogged causing your dishwasher to have trouble draining. The last time I cleaned mine, it actually wasn’t all that dirty, but it might be because we have had drainage problems with our dishwasher in the past, so I like to stay on top of keeping it cleaned!

The SEVENTH place we may forget to clean is under large appliances, like under the refrigerator, oven, or washer and dryer. Luckily for me I have built in ovens, but I am so bad at cleaning under my refrigerator. It gets to the point where I can see how dirty it is and then I know I need to deal with it!

The EIGHTH space we might forget to clean is our washing machine. It’s good to clean your washer every once in a while in order for it to perform at it’s best. I did a quick Google search on how to clean your washing machine with natural products and the first item that popped up suggested running a cycle with 2 cups of vinegar on hot, followed by another cycle of ½ cup of baking soda on hot. My washer actually has a “tub clean” setting. In addition to the washing machine, the dryer vent should also be cleaned out periodically. It can become a fire hazard to allow lint to build up in the dryer vent. You can access the exterior dryer vent by going to the outside of your home, and reaching up into the vent to pull out any excess lint. You can also detach the dryer hose from the inside to clean in from the inside as well. Just be sure you have some dryer hose tape or aluminum tape on hand to reattach it.

The NINTH area that may need attention is your bathroom sink drains. There are simple tools available on Amazon to remove hair from the drain. You can also clean the cap to the sink drain at this time as it also gets dirty with build up.

Lastly, the TENTH thing you may be forgetting to clean is your light switch plates. These are probably the most touched area in your home, so to prevent illness from spreading it’s good to clean these regularly with some sort of antibacterial wipe or spray. When my kids were little, I would enlist their help by giving them a container of antibacterial wipes and had them go around and wipe down all the light switches. I think they thought it was fun, so win-win!

Well, I hope this gave you some ideas of places you can get clean around your home that you might have been forgetting about! Fall is a great time to get everything clean and ready for the upcoming holiday season!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

10 Habits of An Organized Person

I think most people would say they would like to be more organized, or they would like to be an organized person. Friends and family often ask me how I stay organized. They may even comment that I’m so lucky to just be naturally organized. People who seem naturally organized really just implement habits in their lives that lead to an organized life. Today I wanted to share with you 10 habits of people who are organized.

The first habit is that they have a place for everything. The number one advice I give to people who want to get organized is to have a place for everything. When everything has a place, over time you don’t even have to think about putting things away. Your brain makes neural pathways as you repetitively put the items away in the same location. Eventually you do it as second nature. Also, if something does not have a home, it just continues to float around your house and every time you use that item, you must think about where to put it down when you’re finished using it.

In addition to having a place for everything, organized people actually put things away in their place after they are done using it. I call this the “one touch rule.” When they are done with an item, they immediately put it back where it belongs. They don’t drop the towel on the bathroom floor, or kick off their shoes wherever they want to take them off. A great example – and a problem place for many people – is the mail creating paper clutter in that dreaded drop zone where everything seems to pile up in your house. Someone who is organized has a habit of immediately dealing with the mail. They make it a habit to get the mail when they have the time to go through and discard junk mail, pay bills, and file papers that come through the mail.

In order to be able to deal with things like mail, functional systems must be set up and used. An organized person has these systems, which they continue to tweek until it works well for them. They have a paper filing system, a place for shoes, hooks for backpacks and jackets, a location where dirty laundry goes (and family members know this as well), and any other organizing bins for everyday used items.

Along with functional systems, organized people have daily routines set up. Having routines will allow you to get things done almost without thinking about it. Not only general routines like exercise, daily Bible reading or meditation, and getting up and going to bed at approximately the same time each day; but also cleaning, decluttering, and organizing habits. We all have a fairly consistent inflow of things into our homes, whether it’s junk mail, kids artwork, or gifts. Having routines set up to deal with the inflow and the organic daily messes that are created, help to keep you organized.

Another habit of an organized person is that they are constantly decluttering. Like I just mentioned, we all have a constant inflow of items into our homes. No matter how minimalist someone appears to be, there is still a need to declutter items from the home.

To help make the decluttering process a bit easier, another habit of an organized person is that they are intentional about what comes into their homes. Some things we don’t have control over – mail sent to us or what our family members bring into our home is out of our control. However, an organized person closely evaluates their purchases to decide if the items will add value, particularly in the long run.

Along those same lines, organized people only own what they use and what they love and declutter the rest. The less stuff we have, the less stuff we have to organize. The less stuff we have to organize, the easier it is to be and stay organized.

Another habit of an organized person is that they keep lists. Keeping lists for different aspects of life help to keep things organized. If you get ideas or to dos out of your head and onto paper (or digitally if that is your thing), your head is clear and you won’t worry about forgetting anything. It’s great to keep separate lists for different aspects of life – a work to do list, a daily to do list, a long term to do list, and an ideas list to name a few.

Organized people create deadlines for themselves. Oftentimes we organically have deadlines – whether that’s for work, school, or things that must get done related to our children or our personal lives (like appointments, preparation for events, etc.) When an organized person doesn’t have a set deadline – like with home projects or cleaning, they make deadlines for themselves. Having a deadline helps motivate you to get tasks and projects done. Of course there is always room for grace when unexpected things come up!

Lastly, organized people don’t procrastinate. Oftentimes people put off decluttering, putting things away, or everyday tasks. People who are organized, deal with things immediately, and then tasks don’t pile up and get to the point where they are overwhelming. It’s easier to stay on top of things when we don’t procrastinate.

I hope this gave you some practical tips on how you can become a more organized person. It’s never too late to make changes in your habits!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

7 Reasons We Keep Clothes + Ideas To Declutter Clothes

Today I wanted to share with you common reasons we tend to hold onto clothes, and some ideas for letting go. It can be overwhelming to downsize our wardrobe, especially if we are not in the habit of purging items from our closet and the job has gotten out of control. The best advice I have if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a decluttering project is to take it in bite size pieces. Choose one drawer a week to go through, or set a timer for an allotted amount of time. Oftentimes getting started is the most difficult part. Once we start, we have momentum to continue forward.

{{ONE}} We feel guilty about the amount of money we spent on the items. This is probably the number one reason we find it hard to declutter clothes – and really any items from our home. It can be difficult to just give away items that we have spent money on. If the items are in relatively good condition, an alternative is to sell these clothes. You could choose a consignment platform like Poshmark (my go-to), or Mercari. You could send it to Thread Up if you don’t want the clothes just sitting in your home as you wait for them to sell, or you could bring them to a local consignment shop to get some of your money back. You won’t make as much money with Thread Up or a consignment shop, but then the clothes are out of your house. If you have enough items in general that you are wanting to get rid of, another option is to have a good old fashioned garage sale. I have found it much easier to let go of items that I am on the fence about when I can make some money back. Lastly, if you have taken a basic economics course, then you learned about “sunk cost.” Basically, sometimes we make poor financial decisions, but keeping the item doesn’t get us the money back. If anything, every time we see that item we think – either consciously or subconsciously – that we spent money on that, but no longer love it/want it. It might be better to just get it out of our field of vision!

{{TWO}} We think we might lose – or even gain – weight. Sometimes we hang onto clothing items that used to fit us, but no longer fit because we have gained weight. We hold onto them as though it was an incentive to lose the weight to get back into that size. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem where you went through a weight loss journey and you’re concerned you will gain the weight back. Either way, I personally don’t keep items that are too big or too small. It can be discouraging to have that pair of jeans two sizes too small sitting in the back of your closet. Instead, perhaps you could use the incentive of purchasing new items when/if you do lose the weight. And if you went through a weight loss journey, it could be cathartic to get rid of all of those large clothes believing you WILL maintain the weight you are at currently. Certainly there are exceptions. If you are expecting a baby, you will likely need different sizes in your wardrobe to account for different stages of pregnancy and postpartum.

{{THREE}} We have sentimental attachment. This is a tough one. It may take time to be ready to let go of some of these items. When beginning the process of decluttering, I agree with Marie Kondo, it is wise to leave sentimental items until the end. This gives you momentum, and you also begin to “learn how to declutter.” You begin to feel more confident in your choices to part with things. If you have things like school or sports team t-shirts that you don’t want to let go of, consider having a quilt/blanket made out of the t-shirts/jerseys so you can still appreciate and enjoy them without having a box of them stuffed in the back of your closet. Other items that have sentimental value could be displayed in your home so you are able to appreciate them. Get a shadow box for that special jersey, or the outfit you brought your child home from the hospital in. Find a way to display/enjoy it, instead of continuing to allow these items to sit in a box in a closet or attic space. Perhaps you could pick your favorite few – maybe you don’t need to keep an entire tote of baby clothes from when your children were babies. Choose a couple of memorable outfits. Or perhaps you can keep a couple of school t-shirts instead of 13 from every year of school from kindergarten through 12th grade!

{{FOUR}} We don’t have time/don’t want to spend our time this way. I understand this. Honestly, in the end, it comes down to what is important to you. If you are okay with and not bothered by overflowing closets and drawers, then you do you. But, I would imagine if you’re reading this post, you are interested in paring down your wardrobe. As I mentioned, you don’t have to do the Konmari method and pile all your clothes from every drawer and hanger into the middle of your room. You could focus on a little at a time – choosing one drawer, or one section of your closet. Another idea is to purge clothing items by category. Sometimes you don’t realize how many of one category you own – so taking inventory of all of your shorts, or all of your sweaters at once may give you a better idea of what to get rid of. Think realistically about how many items in each category you might need. Think about the climate you live in and how often you do laundry. Another idea would be to set a timer. If you don’t have hours to spend decluttering. Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, then grab a bag or box and start filling it with the items you know you no longer wear. Another trick I use is to turn your hangers backwards, then turn them back forwards as you wear/wash each item. After 6 months to a year (depending on how temperate your climate is) you will get an idea of which clothes you are wearing. If turning your hangers around seems like a lot of work, push all your clothes to one end of your closet, then hang them back up at the other end as you wear/wash them.

{{FIVE}} It was a gift. I think it is a universal feeling to feel guilt getting rid of something someone gave to you. Even if you are someone who doesn’t attach sentimental value to things readily, it is difficult. I’m sure it’s even more difficult for those who do attach sentimental value to items. The truth is, when someone gives you a gift, that item now belongs to you which means you can do with it what you please. You can appreciate their gesture and experience the joy of the act of giving in that moment, but if this item is not useful to you or does not bring you joy then it is silly to hold onto it just because it was given to you. If the person who gave you the item would be upset because you didn’t use it or you gave it away – that is a boundary issue they have, not you. Usually, your friends and relatives would not want an item they gave you to cause stress or clutter in your home. I think most people would rather the item that they spent money on be given to someone else who would use itl than for it sit in a drawer or closet in your home.

{{SIX}} We have space in our closet.  I relate well to this one. I used to not purge things that were difficult to purge because I had the space for it, so why not just leave it. The truth is, physical clutter can cause mental clutter. If every time you open your closet or drawers and they are filled to the top, your brain has to process everything that is in there. With less stuff, it’s less the brain has to process. I am beginning to enjoy having empty spaces in my home! For me personally, I realize that one day we will likely downsize and live in a smaller home. I like the idea of being able to slowly over time purge my items rather than being forced into it when we do choose to downsize. Even further down the road (or not since we never know!) when we leave this earth we will leave our things behind, and our family will have to make choices about what to do with those things. I don’t want my stuff to become a burden to my children or family members.

{{SEVEN}} We think we want lots of options. This may be true for some people. I have thought about trying to transition to a capsule wardrobe, but even I like to have a variety of choices when it comes to clothes. One thing I have found helpful for myself is to have a “uniform” then having options within that uniform. I pretty much assemble the same look every day, just with different items. But, some people want all different kinds of styles and options within those styles. I think having too many options can be overwhelming and contribute to decision fatigue. This may be the main reason people want to declutter their closets in the first place. They might not be able to put their finger on why, but ultimately it’s that there are too many choices in our closets. By using some of the techniques and tips mentioned earlier, you can pare down your wardrobe so it’s easy to get dressed each day and you love what you are wearing EVERYDAY! Can you say that now??

I hope this gave you some motivation or inspiration to reassess how many clothing items you own! It can be tough to declutter clothes, but if you do a little at a time it can be less overwhelming!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

Minimal and Cozy

When I first started pursuing the idea of becoming more minimal I thought “I could never be a minimalist” because I really enjoy decorating our home to make it more cozy and inviting. Five years later, I’m realizing that “minimalism” is not a one size fits all. There is no true definition of minimalism, or a box you can put it in. To me, it just means living with the things I use and love. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you the ways I make my home cozy and inviting while still striving towards minimalism.

I know there are several books written on Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), which is a Danish word meaning creating a mood of coziness or comfort. I haven’t read these books, but “The Little Book of Hygge” is on my reading list! I wanted to share with you what little I’ve learned from what I know of Hygge, and just how I have organically practiced it in my home. Coziness and an inviting space doesn’t have to equate to a lot of material things.

First, I like to use throw pillows, blankets, and rugs to warm up a space. I choose pillows, blankets, and rugs of different textiles to give depth and provide interest. I like to use different colors and textiles for the seasons. I try to purchase pillow covers instead of full pillows so that they are easier to store.

Next, I like to use plants throughout my home to give a feeling of aliveness to my spaces. I admit that many of my plants are fake plants as I struggle to keep live ones living. I do have several live plants throughout my home as well. Not only does it bring that feeling of life to a room, but it also brings that texture, organic color, and dimension. 

Third, lighting choice really does change the mood of a room. Using warmer tone bulbs, especially in the evening, creates a calming atmosphere. Using lamps as opposed to overhead lights, or even displaying twinkle lights in a fireplace or around a tree in your home can create this mood. In addition to that, lighting candles can create that soft light and cozy mood in your home.

Fourth, is scent. With scented candles, you can get the coziness of the light of the candle burning and the scent. You could also use an oil difuser to create that good smelling scent throughout your home. Another way you could get the coziness of scent is through baking or cooking. The smell of freshly baked cookies or bread in the oven, or perhaps a pot roast fills your home and creates that feeling of coziness and warmth. Lastly, you can create those good scents through cleaning products, which leads into my next point…

Fifth is order. Most humans thrive in a space that has order. Chaos in our physical space can breed chaos in our minds, which does not lend to a feeling of coziness or peace. I have different practices which help keep my home tidy, which I have a blog post about and you can read that post here. When things are put away, and clean this lends to a feeling of coziness. 

Lastly, surrounding yourself with things you find beautiful – whether that’s family photos, books, or intentional home decor. In spite of what some people think, “minimalism” doesn’t have a number of certain things. It’s whatever makes YOU feel comfortable, and whatever brings YOU joy!

I hope this post inspired you to find new and creative ways to create a feeling of cozy throughout your home.

Here is the YouTube video I made with this information.

Things I Wish I Could Quit Buying, and Why I Don’t

I often will see creative content from minimalists who share a list of all the things they no longer purchase now that they are minimalist. Sometimes this type of content makes me feel bad, because I think I should not purchase some of these items, but when I think about it, I know  it’s just not practical for me and my family. I thought I would share the 15 things I wish I could quit buying and why I don’t.

Paper Towels and Paper Napkins. I do try to use cleaning cloths as much as possible, however there are times when jobs are so messy or unsanitary that I prefer to use something disposable instead of something I will need to wash. Also, we use paper towels to cover our food when we are cooking it in the microwave so it doesn’t splatter in there. As for napkins, I actually used to have cloth napkins and we used them every night at dinner. But, probably some time around the time our third child was born I gave up on keeping up with that extra laundry. To be honest, now that my kids are older, we don’t use napkins all the time. We only use them if it is a messy meal.

Disposable Plates, Cups, and Silverware. Truthfully, we RARELY use these, but I do keep them on hand for emergencies or if my kids have friends over. If we have a large gathering at our home, we will use disposable plates, cups, and silverware as well.

Plastic Bags (Ziplocks), Plastic Wrap, Tin Foil, and Parchment Paper. Again, I don’t use these items frequently. I have reusable plastic bags, and beeswax paper to replace plastic wrap. But, there are occasions when I use these items. I don’t like to use any reusable plastic bags  with raw meat. Also, I don’t have a large collection of reusable plastic bags, so if all of the reusable ones are used then we will use a disposable one. I use foil on our grill to cook our food on, and to line a baking sheet with some of the items that I cook. I use parchment paper when I bake cookies, and for some other recipes. I think there might be reusable parchment paper? I’ve never looked into that though.

Individually Wrapped Snacks. I recognize that it’s a lot of extra wrapping to purchase these types of snacks, however it is nice to have some snacks that are already portioned out. I’m not talking about chips or crackers. I’m talking about protein bars, oatmeal packets, and easy one person meals to name a few. Some things like the individual easy meals are great for teens to make on their own, and it doesn’t create leftovers.

Home Decor. I would like to be a minimalist, but there are just some areas where I enjoy having beautiful things. I don’t have an excessive amount of home decor, but I do like having it as I feel like it makes our home feel cozy and inviting. Along these same lines, is seasonal decor. I don’t keep a lot  of seasonal decor, but I do have decor for Easter, spring/summer, fall, and Christmas. I have tried to curate an intentional collection of seasonal decor.

Decorative Pillows. I have to say, it has been a while since I last purchased decorative pillows. For those of you who don’t know, in 2019 I did a “No Spend Year” with regards to clothes and home decor. I did not purchase any pillows during that year, and now we are in May of 2020 and I still have not purchased any new ones! But, I do like using throw pillows as a way to make spaces more warm and cozy. When I can, I use pillow covers to change out my pillows making it easier to store.

Fake Plants. I would REALLY like to be able to have all real plants in my home, but the reality is I’m barely keeping the four real plants that I have in my home alive! I have killed so many real plants – including cacti and succulents {{how do you do that??}} I love the look of plants, so I have included fake plants and succulents throughout my home.

Clothes. As I mentioned, in 2019 I did not purchase any clothes (with some exceptions! You can read my blog post about my reflections from my No Spend Year.) During that year, I did learn about fast fashion and how some brands do not ethically source their clothing items. I am now purchasing clothes either second hand, from small boutiques/business, or from brands that have ethical practices. I love beautiful things! I love putting together outfits, so yes I do still purchase clothes. I have been doing the one in, one out rule – if I purchase an item I remove one of a similar type of item from my wardrobe. This helps me to be more intentional with what I purchase.

Disposable Feminine Products. Okay, skip on to the next one if this is TMI for you! I did try two different brands of the period cups, both of them were $20-30, and neither one worked for me. I decided I’m probably close enough to menopause that it’s not worth it to try yet another brand!

Q-tips and Cotton Pads. I have thought about purchasing reusable Q-tips and cotton pads, but as of now I am using the disposable kind. For those of you who have reusable Q-tips and/or cotton pads, are they difficult to clean? Do you wash them in the washer? Or just in the sink?

Cleaning Products. I have to admit, lately I’ve been really pondering if I should make my own cleaning products with simple items I already have on hand (vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils), but as of now I do purchase pre-made cleaning products. I use the Grove Collaborative website to order what I need. It is a subscription based service that will send cleaning products to your door once a month! They have a lot of essential oil based {{more}} all-natural products. I do recognize that these products aren’t as natural as just making your own.

Candles and Essential Oils. There is conflicting data on the health hazards of both candles and essential oils. The data on the candles being hazardous is probably more legit, as even scented soy candles have chemicals in them to create the scent. I more often diffuse essential oils than to light candles, but either way, I do love my home to smell good! I used to use those Glade or Yankee Candle plug-ins, but I stopped using those several years ago. I may eventually give up lighting scented candles, but I would have to find some all-natural, unscented ones because I love the cozy ambiance candles create.

Books. If there is a book I would like to read, I typically buy or borrow the physical book. There is just something about holding a physical book and turning the pages. Especially now that we are quarantined, I have thought about trying out the library service where you can rent audio books, or ebooks.

Coffee at a Coffee Shop. Most of the time I make my coffee at home, but every once in a while this mama needs a treat!

Hair Dye. I’m 45 years old and that is old enough to have gray hair, but I feel like it’s young enough to cover it up to continue looking young. I know one day I will give this up, and I recognize that many people may find this vain, but that is not how I currently feel about it. I think it’s okay to take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise, and do things to make you look and feel younger!

Well, I hope this may help you to feel better about the things you continue to purchase, if you’re like me and are striving for minimalism but am not quite there yet. Let me know if you purchase these items too, or if you don’t why you don’t!

Well, I hope this may help you to feel better about the things you continue to purchase, if you’re like me and are striving for minimalism but am not quite there yet. Let me know if you purchase these items too, or if you don’t why you don’t!

10 Areas To Declutter Without Donations

In case you missed it, in my last blog post in which I made some suggestions on staying sane during quarantine, I mentioned that while you’re stuck at home it’s a great time to purge and organize. I realize that many donation centers are not accepting donations at this time, so I thought I would share with you 10 types of things you can purge that don’t need to be donated.

{{FIRST}} Physical Photos. If you are in the group of people who still have physical photos in your home, now is a great time to go through those photos and decide which to keep, which to throw away, and how you would like to store them. Some people don’t like just throwing photos in the trash, I would suggest shredding them first if you don’t want some dumpster diver finding a random photo with your likeness. The photos you do choose to keep could be stored in a storage box, placed in a photo album or scrapbook, or you could scan them before throwing the remainder away.

{{SECOND}} Digital Clutter. This could be a variety of things. It could be going through your email inbox, deleting photos you no longer need (often people will take several shots of the same setting to make sure they got the shot they wanted – you  can delete the ones that didn’t turn out), downloads you no longer need stored on your computer, social media declutter (deleting any people you no longer want to follow). This is a great time to organize your digital files in general.

{{THIRD}} Paper Clutter/Files. You could spend some time getting rid of any paperwork you no longer need or is no longer pertinent in your life. Or you could spend time scanning in files so that you can store those files digitally as opposed to having physical files taking up space in your home. There are several great apps to use to capture these files if you don’t want to scan them in. Another area where we accumulate paper clutter is through instruction manuals. Many of these can now be found easily online through the company’s website. You could check to make sure, and often you are able to download those instructions onto your computer.

{{FOURTH}} CDs/DVDs. Whether this is games or movies you no longer watch or play, or if it’s something you could convert to a digital version to get rid of the physical copy. Perhaps you could determine if you have some CDs that came with a camera or a printer which are available to download from the website now so you no longer need the physical copy.

{{FIFTH}} Kids Artwork/Crafts. Somehow these seem to pile up fast – at least they did around my house when my kids were younger! Go through and assess which ones are worth saving, and which you can throw away. You could even take a photo of the artwork before throwing it away to be able to still have that memory. If it is truly a masterpiece, you could create a scrapbook to store the artwork neatly to be able to go back and easily look through it. I created a scrapbook for each of my kids of the artwork they made when they were younger.

{{SIXTH}} Old/Broken Craft Items. Go through your craft items stash – see if you have broken pencils, worn out crayons, or items that aren’t in good enough shape anymore to be used.

{{SEVENTH}} Random/Broken Pieces. Likely you will find these items in a junk drawer and floating around the toybox. Assess if you have any items that you have no idea what they are or broken items and get rid of them!

{{EIGHTH}} Expired Food. Assess what food you have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. See if there are any foods that are expired or have gone bad. This is a great time to assess what food you have to make sure you are being efficient in using what you already have!

{{NINTH}} Unused/Empty Toiletries/Make Up. Do you have an empty shampoo bottle sitting in the shower? Or maybe you have that eye shadow that you tried once three years ago and it just didn’t work. See if you have any toiletries or make up that you are no longer using.

{{TENTH}} Paint/Chemicals You No Longer Use. This one is tricky, because technically these should be safely disposed of at a chemical recycling center. However, you could grab a box and fill it with these items and store it in the garage until the lock down instructions have been lifted. Then, those items will be ready to go to the recycle center.

Obviously, you don’t have to tackle all of these areas while in quarantine. I just thought I would share with you some ideas of things that can be thrown away instead of taken to the donation center. I hope this inspired you to pick an area in your home to declutter!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

My Intentional Spending Year Reflections, Part 1

For those of you new to my blog, last year in 2019 I did a no spend year. You can read my reflections from each month by clicking on the “No Spend Year” link under categories on the right side of the home page. After that experience, I didn’t want to go back to my old spending habits. The reason I decided to do the no spend year was to reset some of my negative spending habits. Moving into 2020, I decided to do an “Intentional Spending Year,” focusing on being more intentional with what I brought into my home. I wanted to give an update on how that has been going now that we are well into the third month of the year.

At the beginning of the year, I was struggling to buy anything. Since I took a year long spending fast, it almost felt like “cheating” because my brain became so accustomed to not spending. So far, I feel like I have been very intentional about certain purchases, while other purchases I don’t feel like I am being as intentional as I had planned on being.

My biggest struggle so far this year has been with Poshmark. This is a clothing resale app in which you can buy and sell clothing to other users. There were several clothing items which I had “liked” even when I wasn’t purchasing clothing. For those of you not familiar with the app, it is set up similar to social media where you can follow certain people (their closets) and you can “like” certain clothing items. I did purchase several items from my “likes” over the first couple of months of 2020.

The other struggle I had was having items “stored up” from the year that I had my eye on or needed to replace, and really still wanted. Where I would only purchase 1-2 items like this per month in the past, I had several items I wanted. I needed a new black leather jacket (as my old had an obvious worn spot). I also had my eye on a specific pair of shoes that I had first seen probably 6 months ago. In addition to that, I had some workout clothes that were no longer fitting me right, and needed replacing (whoever designed high waisted workout pants are a genius! No more slipping! I replaced a couple pairs of tights that were not high waisted.) I needed to replace one of my white t-shirts that had a stain. And the list could go on!

Leather jacket and basic white t-shirt which I replaced.

Another struggle, which I mentioned in several of my no spend year reflections – was this idea of the slippery slope. I think I purchased some items just because it was “okay to buy things.” I realize now that my biggest struggle is with SHOES! I definitely make excuses as to why I “NEED” a pair of shoes.

Just one of my three shoe racks! I also have some shoe storage boxes on the top shelf of my closet to store out of season shoes!

I do feel like I’m slowing down on the purchases now that I’m through those first couple of months. Part of it is now I’ve purchased those things that I’ve had my eye on, or needed replaced. Another part of it is just being disappointed in myself – wanting to do a better job at being intentional with what comes into my home.

Pair of shoes I had my eye on for over 6 months!

If you read my past reflections from last year, you will know that clothing items were much more difficult for me to not purchase versus the home decor. I feel like I have been much more intentional with home decor purchases. In addition to that, I feel like I’m getting to a place where I can appreciate something in a store without having to purchase it. I probably am erring on the side of NOT purchasing when it comes to things other than clothing.

I purchased these brass birds from my friend’s vintage Etsy shop.

Even with clothing items, I did have a couple of “wins.” Unfortunately, in February, I had to travel back to my home town for my Grandma’s funeral. Ordinarily, I would want to purchase a dress for this occasion. I remembered back to my experience with wanting to purchase a dress for my son’s graduation, and realized I have plenty of dresses to choose from (even though they were all sleeveless or short sleeved and I was traveling to Indiana in the middle of winter! But I added a blazer and it worked!) I also went on a trip at the end of February. I often will purchase clothes specific for trips, but I chose to wear what I had – and I made it work!

Me with my four sisters at the lunch after my Grandma’s funeral.
My son and me at Magic Kingdom!

One other thing I wanted to share, which is difficult to open up about, is one of the reasons why I may have been spending more (other than I was “allowed to.”) I learned while on my no spend year that when I was tempted to shop, I replaced it with other habits – like watching Netflix for instance. As I reflect, I realize that oftentimes I am tempted to shop when I am stressed out or going through something difficult in life. It was my way of numbing out life. I have gone through several difficult personal things over the last few months – making me more susceptible to seeking out ways to find comfort. I’m thankful for the no spend year, and how it has contributed to my ability to see more clearly reasons behind my habits. Moving forward, I will find more healthy ways to deal with the stressors of life. I used to journal a lot, but have not been consistent for several years now. I want to use journaling as a way to brain dump my thoughts and feelings. I also want to turn to meditation and prayer when I recognize that I’m going down that path of self medication.

Moving forward this year, I would like to be more intentional than I have been thus far. Practically I am going to do this by doing a few things. First, I want to come up with more concise “rules” for my year. For my no spend year, I had specific rules that helped me stay on course. I didn’t really come up with specific rules for my intentional spending year. I think this will help keep me grounded. I plan on cutting way back on looking through the Poshmark app. I also plan on just not going into stores. This will be easy now that we are staying at home more with the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, I plan to shift my focus. I found during my no spend year that I had so much extra time, and this was because my focus was shifted away from things! I will also, as I mentioned find healthier ways to deal with difficult circumstances in life.

How To Keep A Tidy Home

Keeping a tidy home can be a difficult endeavor. Life is busy, and filled with responsibilities other than just housekeeping. I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stay on top of household duties in order to keep a tidy home.

One of the main things I do in order to keep my home tidy is to deal with things immediately when I can. A perfect example is our mail. I don’t get the mail until I am ready to deal with it – sift through and throw away all junk mail, then immediately pay bills or deal with mail. If it is something I can’t deal with immediately, I hang it on our magnetic calendar dry erase board, which is located in a prominent place in our kitchen. I will see it every time I’m in the kitchen as a reminder to take care of it. Another way to deal with things immediately, is when you get home from somewhere – put everything away in its place. If I have some trash and/or a glass of water by my bed from the night before, I bring it downstairs with me when I get up in the morning and throw away the trash and put the glass in the sink with the dishes on deck for the dishwasher. If I see a mess, I will take the extra 2-3 minutes to clean it up right away.

Another tip is to have a schedule. I have a schedule for all of my household chores. I choose one or two chores per day to get done, making it less overwhelming. In addition to this, each week I choose one room to deep clean and declutter. Sometimes I do it all on one day, and other times I spread it out throughout the week depending on what my schedule is like for that week. 

This is a screen shot of my Google Sheets document with my schedule.

If you’re interested in learning more about deep cleaning one room per week, check out my blog post on zone cleaning!

Another thing that can help keep your home tidy is to enlist the help of others. Our kids had consistent chores by the time they were in upper elementary school. We can teach our kids not only about helping out as part of a family through consistent chores, but taking care of their own things. This can help tremendously in keeping things from getting out of control. If your partner doesn’t have this bent to naturally put his/her things away, then you can communicate your desire to have him/her take care of their own things.

It is much easier to keep your home tidy if everything has a place. When everything has a place, you and your family members will know where things go. You will be much more efficient in putting items away if everything has a place. If certain items don’t have a home, you will waste time and brain power deciding where it should go temporarily. Ultimately, you are less likely to put items away if they don’t have a home. Having organization systems in place will help with this issue.

Lastly, just don’t own a lot of stuff! I’ve said this many times before. The less stuff we own, the less we have to take care of. I know there are certainly areas where I could do a better job at owning less, but each day I work on only owning that which is useful, or that which brings me joy.

I hope this inspired you to stay on top of keeping your home tidy!

Here is my YouTube video with this information if you’re interested!

10 Reasons To Hire A Professional Organizer

Getting organized can be difficult and stressful for some people. I wanted to share with you 10 reasons why you might want to hire a professional organizer. I also have a YouTube video with this content if you’d like to check that out!

{{ONE}} You want to declutter, but you feel overwhelmed. Many people feel overwhelmed when thinking about organizing a space. It can be difficult to know where to start. A professional organizer can help you break these big projects into smaller tasks, making it a bit more manageable. We don’t have to stay with you the whole time. We can give you advice and homework to do while we are not there.

{{TWO}} You need accountability. Many people have good intentions but no follow through. Life can get in the way and before you know it, your good intentions get covered by the day-to-day busyness. Hiring a professional organizer will give you that accountability to push through and get a project done. Often times when we organize one space in our home, it gives us momentum to continue with other spaces.

{{THREE}} Another set of eyes for organization ideas. It can be really helpful to have another person looking at your space and giving you ideas of how to organize it, or ideas of organizing tools which would work well in the space. We may have things to share with you that you have never thought of for the space.

{{FOUR}} Someone to talk you through getting rid of things, especially the difficult things. We often get wrapped up in our emotional connection to items when trying to purge things on our own. We can also be blinded by the fact that we spent money on items, making it difficult to let go. Having someone else there to talk you through the costs and benefits of letting go of an item can be very helpful.

{{FIVE}} We keep you on task – it can be hard to stay focused. When working on decluttering and getting a space organized, it can be easy to get side tracked. Having someone there to keep you focused on the task at hand can make the process of decluttering and organizing more efficient and effective.

{{SIX}} Our expertise. Whether it’s from education, experience, or just a natural bent, a professional organizer has expertise that you may not have. This expertise can be very beneficial if you want to get a space organized efficiently.

{{SEVEN}} You don’t have time to organize your space. Life can be busy, especially if you have a full time job and/or kids. Managing your schedule, your kids’ schedules and other responsibilities can be time consuming.

{{EIGHT}} It’s worth it for your mental health to have organization systems that work well for you and your family. It can be challenging to find organization systems or tools that help to keep your spaces organized. A professional can organize your spaces in a logical way. It’s worth it for your mental health to have spaces that are organized and prevent you from feeling more anxious and overwhelmed.

{{NINE}} You’re moving. Moving can be a very stressful and crazy time in life. If you don’t have the skills to efficiently pack things in an organized way, it can be helpful to hire a professional. This will make packing up your old home easier, and then the unpacking process when you arrive at your new home a more smooth process.

{{TEN}} It’s more fun to purge and organize with someone rather than by yourself! I have had so much fun helping clients organize their spaces. It has been fun to hear their stories and to share my own stories as well. We get to know each other in this process, which is fun!

If you live in the Austin, Texas area and need help with organizing a space in your home, I would love for you to connect with me!

Inspired By Grandma

Unfortunately on Sunday February 2nd of this year, we had to say goodbye to my Grandma. She had lived a long, beautiful life. She was 93 years old, and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, so it was bitter sweet to say goodbye. Grandma was basically like another mother to me. My grandparents lived 10 minutes from our house, so we spent a lot of time over there. Before my Grandma was a mother or grandmother, she was a teacher. Even after she retired, she continued to “teach” us. I wanted to write about my Grandmother to honor her. Tomorrow I will be saying my last goodbye at her funeral, so I thought it was an appropriate time to share.

Grandma taught me that you don’t have to follow a recipe to whip up something with ingredients you have on hand. Or if we were following a recipe and we had missing ingredients, she always knew how to improvise. Not to mention her cooking was amazing! There’s just something about a grandma’s cooking, right? Almost every Sunday after church Grandma would host us all for lunch – our family, which included 5 kids plus my two cousins. I remember she would wear her apron to the dinner table. I always thought that was funny until I became the main cook of my own little family and learned her secret – that an apron is a sly way that an adult woman can wear a bib! Grandma grew up in the south, so it was fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and banana pudding! There was always a feast on Sunday afternoons.

My Grandparents with my husband and me on our wedding day.

Grandma’s house was a wonderland for kids! They lived in a big house with a basement – where all the fun happened. They also lived on acreage, including a wooded path behind their home. They had a big red barn where Grandpa did all of his woodworking. Every summer they had a garden, and they had a pool too. We spent many summer days over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, picking ripe fruits and vegetables from their garden, swimming in the pool, and slurping popsicles out in the sun on the deck attached to the front of their house. Summer was the best time to spend the night at Grandma’s house. She would let us sleep with her. We would balloon up the sheets to make a “tent” and laugh and laugh. With the windows open, and the cool summer breeze rushing in through the screen, we would be lulled to sleep by the tune of the bull frogs and crickets who lived outside her window.

My Grandma meeting my firstborn, Cora. Her namesake is from my Grandma’s mother.

A famous story told in our family is “that one time Lorraine (age 6) and Joy (age 4) ran away to Grandma’s house.” Who doesn’t love Grandma’s house more than their own?! Now as a mother with my own children, I am horrified to think about two little pairs of legs walking nearly 4 miles to their Grandma’s house! Don’t worry, I apologize to my mom every time this story comes up! My Grandparents raised our cousins, so our plan was to live in Tim’s room and he would bring us food. When we arrived on their property, we hid out by the big pine tree at the edge of their front yard. We kept peeking around the tree, to see if anyone would see us. We then ran to the next tree – a little closer to the house. Grandma caught a glimpse of the flashes racing across her yard. When she came out and saw that it was us, she of course immediately called our mom – drat, the plan to live in Tim’s room was up. But, she did give us popsicles and let us swim in the pool in our clothes. We were hot after all.

My Grandma with my daughter Cora at my sister’s house in Atlanta.

I loved writing and poetry when I was younger. Grandma always encouraged me to write – a poem or a short story, or just write about your day – what you saw, heard, or felt. A few days after Grandma passed away, I had the urge to “deal with” my teenage angst ridden journals. I had found them in my closet several months back when I was doing a closet purge and I had decided then that I was ready to let those journals go. I didn’t want my kids to one day stumble on these horrible tales of my childhood. I seemed to write only when I had negative feelings, and I wanted to shred those and dispose of them for cathartic purposes. I began the process of shredding. When I got to the mauve Precious Moments journal, and opened the cover, I saw the beautiful scrawling which was my Grandmother’s writing. I ran my fingers over the words, tracing them as I read them. She had given it to me right before I entered high school. She wrote in the front a sweet poem about keeping record of your days. This journal I noticed I used in a different way than the other journals. The other journals were more of a “Dear Diary” scenario. This journal I WROTE. I wrote poems, deep thoughts, and unprocessed unfiltered feelings. Although the content was still angsty, I decided to keep this journal. The timing was so serendipitous. It’s like my Grandma was talking to me through the history of words on paper.

My Grandma, sister, and my sister’s son came out to visit us when we lived in Oregon.

My Grandma  was a teacher at heart, and never passed up opportunities to teach us. She loved to bird watch, and would teach us about the different birds and different bird calls. When we would walk through the woods, across the dilapidated wooden bridge, she would point out different types of trees. One time, I remember collecting leaves, which we would bring home and preserve between two sheets of wax paper using an iron to melt the wax. We got out the encyclopedias to look up what type of tree the leaf belonged to.

Grandma with my son, Luke. My Grandparents came to Austin to visit us!

A great way she taught her grandchildren was through travel and learning about other places. Her and my grandfather traveled all over the world! For each of their 7 grandchildren’s 5th and 11th birthdays, they took us on a special trip somewhere. I had to share my trips with my cousin Tim, because he was my age. Which I didn’t mind because we were good friends. For our 5th birthday trip, we loaded up the camper and drove to Savannah, Georgia. I don’t really remember much from this trip, other than a ride on a ferry boat. I also remember walking down the shoreline, and finding a huge jellyfish. A photo of my cousin and I squatting over this sea monster is still displayed in her home today.

My Grandma with my daughter, Cora.

For our 11th birthday trip, we drove all the way down the northeast coast states – starting up in Maine and working our way down. We went to a small fisherman’s town in Maine, where I learned you don’t eat the tails on shrimp. We went to New York City where I saw the first homeless person I had ever seen, was lectured by a woman with a cane on the subway that I should learn manners and give my seat to the “elderly” (referring to herself), and tried to walk up all the flights of stairs in the Statue of Liberty because the elevator was broken. Well, at least we made it to her feet! We went to D.C. where we walked past the white house, saw the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and of course The Mall. We also went to the Smithsonian Museum.

Grandma always had funny, made up songs for everything. She liked to make us giggle. One time, on a trip traveling in her camper, we were sitting in the top bed overlooking the road as Grandpa drove the 5th wheel. We drove through a section of roadway that was nothing but pine trees across the hillside, as far as the eye could see. She started singing, “pine treeeeees, pine treeeees, pine trees. Pine treeeees, pine treeeees, pine trees,” then she paused for a moment and started this chorus again. We were both rolling with laughter!

My Grandma with my sons, Luke and Cade.

My college degree is in Journalism. I loved writing, even when I was very young. I attribute my love for writing and poetry to my Grandmother, who encouraged it in me. Today, I may not have a job using my journalism and writing skills, but over the years I have written in different capacities including currently writing blog posts. I thought it apropo to write a tribute to my Grandmother. I’ll end with a poem that I wrote about my Grandma when I was young.

A Grandma’s Love For Nature

By Joy L. Vendrely

I always wondered why Grandma stopped to look at flowers…

…For hours.

Why did she want to look at a waterfall?

That’s all.

Or admire a mountain with trees spread across…

…As if she were lost?

Grandma loves to collect shells from the ocean off the sand,

Just because she can.

I always wondered, but now I know…

…Because nature told me so.