Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"We Do Live Here"

Balance and moderation: two of my favorite words. I need to continue to be reminded of these just about every day. Most days I complain to my husband, "Why can't this house stay clean?" Or "Every time I get the kids closets organized, they mess it up". His response is one I love and need to hear:

"We DO live here, ya know."

Take these bookcases. They are in an open area just off the kitchen. Boy, would I love the contents to be beautiful. Lovely decorative vases, beautiful containers, coffee table books. However, that's not what would simplify my life. A practical space would. It's our home school space. And while it's not beautiful, it's practical...because "We DO live here, ya know."

Yes, strive for beauty. But, keep moderation and practicality in mind as well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Utilize Closet Wall Space

This is my daughter's closet. We have a large armoire in there because the room is on the small side and we needed extra space for clothes that a toddler could reach. Which left little hanging room for dresses, which were on the floor in a wicker basket before.


I could have spend hundreds of dollars buying a new closet system. Instead I purchased a $10 tie rack from The Container Store and hung it on the wall for the dresses. Here's the after:

So be creative with your space. Ask yourself:
1. What's working? Don't change it!
2. What's not working? Find a solution that does!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Being Intentional - Service Jar

               Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.
                                                        1 John 3:18

                           Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
                                    for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
                                                      Hebrews 13:1

Sometimes things I want to do come naturally and easily. Time is already carved out for them and they just happen. Other times, I need to be more intentional.

I want to teach my children how to love others well by serving them. However, with so many other things taking my attention, this often is an afterthought. Something I only do if it happens to stare at me in the face.

In order to make serving others a priority, I made a service jar. Each slip of paper has an act of service or kindness on it. When I first made the jar, I was a little overwhelmed and was rethinking my decision. I wasn't sure it would simplify my life.

But it has and I'm so grateful we are doing it. I didn't give myself a dead line for finishing the jar and we don't do them every day or even every week. While it may seem like a hassle to make it or hard to do it (we keep ours on our dining room table, so it's always there!), it will simplify your life by helping you remember to be intentional about serving others.

Some ideas to put in are:
  • Compliment each person in your family
  • Clear everyone's dishes after a meal
  • Leave a special treat at a restaurant for someone else to find
  • Pay for the food behind you at a drive through
  • Make someone's bed for them
  • Bake some goodies to bring to the church staff
  • Sort laundry and put away another person's as well as your own
  • Write a note of encouragement to mail
  • Give lots of hugs today without any explanation
  • Find a toy or piece of clothing to donate
  • Read with a sibling 
  • Call someone you haven't talked to in a while
  • Take out the trash without being asked
  • Take a treat to the local fire station
  • Draw a picture for someone
  • Play a game with others - but let them choose which one
  • Clean up sticks in the yard
  • Write a letter to a grandparent
  • Share a snack with your siblings
  • Begin a prayer journal
  • Buy flowers to give to someone outside the family
  • Buy a box of cookies to put in the mailbox for the mail carrier
  • Leave a nice note for someone in an unexpected place
  • Mail a gift card to someone (anonymously) 
  • Doorbell ditch a treat
  • Write a thank you letter

Friday, March 16, 2012

Downsizing Your Home

Many people choose to downsize their home - an illness, disability, death of a loved one, new empty nesters, retirement, etc. Since I have never been through any of that myself, I began researching for this post and I came across this. I can't say it better than they already have. I have copied it verbatim here for you:

Tips on Downsizing: Moving from the Family Home

Although both single and married individuals may move many times during adulthood, relocating in later life often involves downsizing to a smaller home. Instead of buying something larger to accommodate a growing family, older adults are frequently interested in having less space and fewer home maintenance responsibilities. For some, selling the family home can be a result of a disability, an illness, or the death of a loved one. For others, this transition is based on a desire to be near family or to experience a new retirement lifestyle in a different area of the country. Regardless of the reason for the move, downsizing from a family home can be a physically exhausting and emotionally draining experience. In many cases, possessions have been accumulated over a number of years and not everything can (or should) be moved. What results is the need to sift, sort, donate, and dispose of a variety of personal items.
Below are a few suggestions on how to get started, what to do with all you have, and tips for keeping things peaceful.

How to Get Started

  • Start with the rooms you use the least: In most family homes there are rooms that are not always used on a daily basis, such as guest bedrooms, basements, or living rooms. Start the sorting process in these rooms and avoid cluttering the areas of the home used regularly.
  • Start with large items: In order to feel you are making progress, in each room start with the largest items and move towards the smallest. For example, identify what you will do with the furniture before you start on the knick-knacks.
  • Have a sorting system: Sort items by using stickers, making piles, or making detailed lists of what will be kept, what will be given away and to where, and what is still undecided.
  • Write down family history: Take the time to write down special memories or any family history that is connected to special items. This information will be cherished for generations to come and will contribute to the value of family heirlooms.
  • Work in scheduled blocks of time: Plan to sort items for periods of no more than two hours at a time. The process of revisiting memories and making decisions about items you have lived with for many years can be emotionally difficult. You will feel less overwhelmed and make better decisions if you take regular breaks and allow yourself time to digest what is happening.
  • Start early and don't rush yourself: Be sure to plan plenty of time for the sifting and sorting process. Take moments to laugh at old pictures, read old letters, and grieve for losses. If you can't decide what to do with an item, set it aside and return to it later. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you and your situation.

What to Do With All This Stuff

  • Keep the items that you treasure the most: Make a list of items you refuse to part with and keep that list in sight as you sort through other possessions. You may need to amend this list as you come across new things but it will remind you that everything is not of equal value.
  • Consider bequeathing items now: Identify those items you want certain family members to have and consider what items you are willing to bequest now. Remember, you may get more pleasure out of seeing your granddaughter enjoy your china at the next family event than knowing she will have it after you are gone.
  • Get rid of things you no longer need: Be realistic about what items you use regularly and what items you are just used to having around. The electric carving knife you use at Thanksgiving may not be as necessary as the toaster oven you use every morning.
  • Consider having a garage sale or home auction: Having enough items that are likely to net a profit (furniture, antiques, electronics) may make the effort of having a garage sale worthwhile. Alternatively, if your possessions are potentially of substantial value, consider holding a home auction. You can often hire a service agency to catalog and appraise your possessions and coordinate a home auction for a percentage of the profit.
  • Donate to charity: For those items you cannot give away as gifts or sell for profit, make a tax deductible donation to charity. Often traditional charity organizations will pick-up donated items. Consider thinking of specific organizations for specific items, for example, donating your professional wardrobe to an abused women's shelter or employment assistance program; donating books to the local library sale; offering furniture to the Red Cross for fire victims; or giving old instruments to a school music program.
  • Have the kids remove their stuff: Don't hesitate to tell the adult children it is time to collect their childhood belongings and store their own mementos. Give them a deadline that works with your schedule and warn them that anything leftover will be donated to charity. You may be surprised at how much they decide not to store themselves!

Dividing Things Peacefully

  • Agree on a system: In order to avoid disagreements among adult children and other family members, create a clear system for identifying who gets what. One idea is to assign each family member a colored sticker and identify items accordingly. An alternative is to have family members take turns choosing items they would like to have. In both cases it is good to clearly outline what items are available for the taking.
  • Be sure everyone gets something special: Even though disagreements may still occur, agreeable solutions may be achieved more readily if everyone feels they received something meaningful to them.
  • Encourage negotiation: If disagreements happen despite your efforts, encourage family members to negotiate amongst themselves. Someone may be willing to trade an item with financial worth for something with more sentimental value. If these exchanges occur, be sure not to take offense.
Leaving a family home can be a bittersweet event that involves revisiting many painful and joyful memories. During the process of downsizing we may be surprised at how attached we have become to our possessions and how difficult it might seem to part with them. It is important to remember, however, that it is the relationships in our lives that give us the most pleasure. A life filled with possessions is no competition to a life filled with family, friends, and meaningful connections.


AARP. (April 2004). How to divide things peacefully. Retrieved on December 2, 2004 from
Hetzer, L. & Hulstrand, J. (2004). Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang Publishers.
Ronnekamp, S. (2003). Downsizing from the family home. Retrieved on December 2, 2004 from
Click here for the PDF version of this Fact Sheet.

Author: Christine Price, Ph.D., Extension State Gerontology Specialist, The Ohio State University

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Declutter Your Easter

Holidays are notorious for bringing clutter into your home. Fight against it! I wrote this post regarding Christmas, but it applies to Easter as well.

Here are some ideas to keep your Easter baskets clutter and junk free:

  • Give less! Kids don't need a lot to get excited. Give a few meaningful things. When you give too many things, kids don't learn to appreciate the few. You are then creating a future generation who doesn't know how to be content without lots of things. Smaller baskets will help you achieve this.
  • Avoid the Dollar Store (and the Dollar section of Target). There are some things that may be worth bringing them into your home. Don't get things just because you need to fill the basket or because they are cheap.
  • Go consumable. And it doesn't have to be candy! One of my daughters loves macaroni and cheese. She'd eat it at every meal for months in a row if I let her. Guess what's in her Easter basket? Yup, a box of mac and cheese. 
  • Go educational. Books! Books! Books! This is one of my favorite things to put in Easter baskets because I love to read and want to foster that in my children. Movies are also a great option.
  • Office Supplies. This one may turn some heads. For older kids or younger kids who go through tape and glue like crazy, put some office or art supplies in the basket.
  • Gardening. Stick some packets of seeds and a cute flower pot in the basket. Not only is it a great learning activity, but provides great family time as well.
Have a wonderful (and clutter free) Easter!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ten in Ten on the Tenth - Spring

Welcome to my organization blog! If you are new, this post is one of a series that happens on the 10th of the month. It is 10 things that you can do when you have an extra 10 minutes. They are hopefully more productive than checking Facebook or Pinterest!

It feels like spring time here in Charlotte. Beautiful weather. Trees budding. Bulbs blooming. And clocks springing forward. In honor of spring, here are 10 things related to spring that you can do in 10 minutes or less!

1. Clean out an outside flower pot that has old dirt and leaves in it.
2. Make a list of spring cleaning you want to do.
3. Make a list of plants or flowers that you'd like to have in your yard, garden, or porch this spring and summer.
4. Prune a tree or bush.
5. Wash and/or clean out your bird bath or feeder, if you have one.
6. If you don't have a bird bath or feeder, go outside and find a good spot for one...they are lovely!
7. Go take a look at your gardening and/or spring cleaning tools...are they all still in good shape or will you need to buy more?
8. Check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors...change the batteries if needed.
9. Go look outside to see if your gutters need to be cleaned.
10. Take a look at your car records to see if it needs to be serviced or if it needs any work.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Charlotte Observer!

I had a great honor a few weeks ago to be interviewed by the talented reporter Crystal O'Gorman from the Charlotte Observer. I got to tell her about my passion for making life more meaningful through simplification and how I got started in my quest to simplify my life.

I was nursing my newborn baby standing in the kitchen as I tried to pull together a healthy dinner. My toddler was in tears, clinging to my legs . I felt stressed--not only because of the babies, but because the lack of peace and organization in my home. I opened the cabinet to get a certain pot, but I couldn't find it because there was just too much stuff. I was trying to throw together some kind of meal using whatever ingredients I could find because I hadn't planned our meals in advance.  So, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. I decided to take control back of my house and my life.  

I am deeply grateful to be able to share my story. The interview ran in Wednesday's paper. You can check out the article here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Linen Closet - Before and After

Tips for organizing your linen closet:
  • Purge. Toss or donate any items that you don't actually use. 
  • Clear bins. Be sure to have clear bins so you can easily see what's in them.
  • Label. My 2nd favorite organizing tool (right behind the trash can!) is a label maker. 
  • Like items together. Put all the shaving items together. Put the shampoo together. Put like medicine together. If you have children, put all their medicine in the same bin. Put your dog items together. You get the picture. 
  • Put sheets in pillowcases. This is the easiest way to organize sheets. Fold them and place them into the pillowcase. 
  • Use top shelf well. This should house items that you don't use often since it's more difficult to get to.