Favorite Organizing Items

I've spent a lot of time telling you that you have too much crap and need to get rid of a good portion of it, so I thought I'd throw you a bone.  While there are no magic bullet organizing products to make you organized once and for all (besides tossing most of your crap), there are a few that can make life easier and more beautiful.  

1.  Matching Hangers - You're an adult.  It's time to donate the 143 mismatched hangers and buy 40 that match.  40!?!  Matching?!? Well, yeah, it's hard to use more than 40 items of clothing in a month, so, if you've recently joined the capsule wardrobe bandwagon, 40 should about do it. As for the matching - well, look at all the closets you've pinned on Pinterest.  They all have less than 40 items, the hangers match, and they look gorgeous. Case closed.  While I use the thick plastic ones from Bed, Bath & Beyond, the wood ones or the fuzzy ones from Amazon also look stellar. 

2.  Keepsake Boxes - You all probably know by know that I'm a sentimental softie, and generally encourage you to keep some keepsakes.  Kid's first shoes, a bracelet your grandfather gave you in kindergarten, the bar receipt from the first time you met/served drinks to your now husband (oh, is that just me?).  Anyway, if you're going to keep some mementos, at least give them a beautiful home

3.  Matching Food Containers - Now go check out those gorgeous kitchens you've pinned.  Chances are the food is in matching containers.  Right?  Please recycle those BPA laden, discolored, mis-matched, crusty old ones you've been holding on to. Please. I personally love cheap and easy ball jars, but French canning jars or anything glass and matchy matchy will work.

4.  Plastic Bins - These are still a favorite.  Simple, useful.  Because even if you don't have much crap, it still looks like a lot when it's spread out over all of your surfaces.  Group your like items together and contain them! :)

5.  The Ikea Kallax Unit - Or any of it's ilk now available from Target and other stores.  Basically it's a piece of furniture with 4, 8 or more cubes that can be used organize darn near anything.  This here is the craft cube, this is the sewing cube, the toy cube, the car wash cube.  Especially helpful for kids.  Or vinyl collectors. I keep my record collection in one. 

Questions to Ask

I suppose this is technically a guest post by my father.  

Years ago I asked him what questions he thought one should ask when deciding to keep or toss an item.  This is what he came up with:

1.   Do I need it or just want it?

2.   When's the last time I used it?

3.   Can I live without it (hint: if it's not food or water, the answer is yes).

4.   Does it have familial or personal value?

5.   Does it have historical or collector value?

6.   If it has historical or collector value, do I personally like it? Or should I sell it? Is it even worth anything?

7.   Do I really need 20 pairs of shoes? Do I wear them all?

8.   Can this be, or has it already been replaced by a newer version that works better?

9.   Does this item control me?  Who's the boss?

10.  I've had this item for 10 years, but never used it.  Will I ever use it?

11.   Am I happier when my things enclose upon me or when I can move freely with no clutter?

12.   When's the last time I looked through my 482 past issues of National Geographic?

13.   They've always liked this, but I can't stand it.  Would it make us all happy to give it to them?

14.   It's old and broken, but I'll fix it someday and find a place to put it.  Oh wait..I said that 15 years ago.  Maybe it's time for this to go?

15.   Do I need all of these 78 speed phonograph records that I've never listened to because I have nothing to play them on? Or should I sell them to the collector that said he'd buy them all?

16.   Do I worry about things I have, but never use?  I have enough worry without them. 

17.   If I had a dime for every time I went through these boxes looking for something, I'd be rich. Maybe it's time to pare down

18.  Someday I'll lose enough weight to wear these again.  Right.  Even it that happens, these probably won't be in style anyway. 

19.   Do an uncluttered mind and an uncluttered house have anything in common?

 

Next time you feel overwhelmed, ask yourself a few of these beauties.  Keep it simple, let it go. 

Morning Ritual

Rituals are grounding.  They give us a space to pause and reflect; a place to put our happy and sad emotions and every one in between.  

I start my mornings with a very simple ritual:

Reading a chapter in whatever book I'm devouring while sipping 1 cup of coffee out of my favorite mug. 

That's it. Nothing crazy, no chants, nothing mystical, no big time commitment. Just a pause before the day begins to ground myself in something that brings me great pleasure.  Something I can hold onto all day. Even if everything else turns to hell, This. Was. Good.

Stacked day after day, that's a lot of good to hang on to. Because I think we often run right past the good.  Good doesn't always make you stop and say "thank you" like bad makes you stop and say "why me".

If you have a morning ritual, share a picture with me on Facebook or Instagram.  

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What I Learned from My Capsule Wardrobe

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Capsule Wardrobe.  

Project 333.  

A uniform.  

These were all buzzwords in 2016 and being as I suffer from a healthy dose of FOMO, I thought I would try one and see what all the fuss is about.  

The basic premise is that rather than buying the skinniest hangers possible so you can cram more clothes in your closet, you clear the damn thing out and only put back a few items.  It could be 33 items every 3 months in the case of Project 333, or just 5 shirts and 5 pants, all the same, for The Uniform.  The mellow choice was a generic Capsule Wardrobe in which you just choose a "limited" amount of clothing. 

After attempting Project 333, and landing closer to Project 666, I decided to just call my attempt by the generic name: Capsule Wardrobe. I pulled out all the clothes from my closet, put back the ones I loved and put the rest in two bins in the garage. 

Here's what I learned:

1.  Having 1 pair of pants a la The Minimalists would only work for me were I willing to do laundry every day.  I get dirty working in peoples homes and, do to health issues, need to wear a new pair almost every day so that I'm not marinating in allergens.  That would add up to a lot of washing and I just don't have the bandwidth right now for that. 

2. Ditto for shirts.  On top of the allergens, I'm just a rather sweaty, smelly person.  For the sake of those around me, I stick to a single use of a shirt, and even then, my hippy-dippy non-aluminum deodorant leaves a bit to be desired.  If a weekend with my horse is involved, that also necessitates a change of shirts (and pants).  I think he smells wonderful, but I get looks when I go to the store after visiting him. I could feasibly stick to just 2 or 3 shirts, but that too would lean towards a ridiculous amount of washing each week.  That leads us to the next point...  

About 25 shirts and 5 pairs of pants make up my fall/winter wardrobe.  Half the shirts are for really cold days and half are for just slightly chilly days.  

About 25 shirts and 5 pairs of pants make up my fall/winter wardrobe.  Half the shirts are for really cold days and half are for just slightly chilly days.  

 

3.  Although I default to wearing black tank tops while at home, I realized I actually enjoy having a bit of a choice in my work shirts.  This was a surprise as I really didn't think I cared that much, but some days I feel like a blue shirt, others a purple one.  The key was keeping the choice to a minimum.   

4.  Getting dressed is SO much easier with a smaller collection. I haven't had a single "OMG I have NOTHING to wear" day since the big clean out. 

5. Moving is easier.  If you have to move to a new home, only needing one little wardrobe box is a huge perk.  We found that out in November. 

My fall/winter shoes.  The sandals and 2 pairs of high heels live on an upper shelf until summer.

My fall/winter shoes.  The sandals and 2 pairs of high heels live on an upper shelf until summer.

6. Co-habitating is easier.  If you move and wind up having to share a closet with your partner, you will have fewer fights if your clothing is staying firmly in your half of the closet.  At least, that's how it went down in our house. :)

7.  Sometimes the biggest act of self-love is letting go of too-small clothes or buying a size larger.  Not with the attitude that nothing can be done about your weight, but an attitude of compassion, i.e. "due to XY and Z, this is the weight I am right now".  I let go of some old pants, bought a couple pair of pants I could wear right now, and ironically lost a little weight.  There might be something to this self-love and acceptance.  Another bonus, in letting go of the too-small clothes, and a few that I just wasn't in love with, I was able to whittle down my 2 boxes of clothes in the garage to 1.  

 

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Cleaning for Lazy People*

simplified cleaning

*Or overworked, busy, stressed out or ill people!

I'm not a fan of cleaning.  My mom is a saint with it comes to cleaning, she devotes an entire day and a half to it each week.  I did not inherit that gene.  So what's a lazy person to do?  

Choose any one of these to do when you have a spare 30 seconds. Do one or two a day and your house will never be filthy.  Awesome. 

Bathroom:

  • When you're done washing your hands, right before you turn off the faucet, use your hands to scrub down the sink.  It needs it. 
  • Use your damp hand towel to wipe down the toothpaste splotches on the mirror. 
  • After using a washcloth on your face, use it to wipe up the counter and faucet.  
  • When you've finished blowing your nose, grab an extra tissue or two and wipe down the top of the toilet bowl and that little space between the tank and the seat.  Toss the tissue into the toilet. 
  • Keep a spray bottle of 50% distilled or boiled water and 50% white vinegar in the bathroom.  Spray down the toilet with it and let it sit for a minute while you're brushing your teeth.  Done.  Disinfected.  
  • Keep a toilet scrub brush next to the toilet and give it a whirl when you see a dirty ring form in the bowl.  So long, nasty.

Kitchen: 

  • Ready to toss your kitchen hand towel in the washing machine? Use it to wipe down the faucet first. 
  • Keep another spray bottle of 50% water and 50% white vinegar in the kitchen.  When you think of it, spritz down the counter tops and the sink.  Let sit for 1 minute.  
  • Place a broom and dust pan in a corner.  When you notice the floor needs it, you won't have to hunt down a broom to give it a good sweep. 

Living Room and Bedrooms:

  • Use a Swiffer dust wand thingy to give things a quick swipe when you notice they are dusty.  The wands are magic and almost makes dusting fun; no chemicals needed.  
  • In lieu of getting on your hands and knees to scrub the tile or wood floor, use a spray mop.  It might not get quite as clean, but at least it will actually get cleaned.
  • Keep as many spray bottles, towels and Swiffers in your rooms as necessary.  Having to track down cleaning supplies will kill the urge to clean.
  • Vacuum when you notice debris on the floor.  That might be every day or every 5 days, just do it when you feel.  One caveat: we recently moved to a house with all tile and wood floors.  With no carpet to hide in, it's truly amazing/disgusting how much "fluff" builds up each day.  I'd ere on the side of more vacuuming if I were to move back to a carpeted place.  

Laundry

  • If you're lucky enough to have an in-home/garage washer and dryer, do a small load each day.  If that doesn't feel environmentally friendly to you, lessen your chemical impact by using a natural detergent and save water elsewhere by taking shorter showers.
  • Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.  One less thing to worry about - they stay in your dryer and are good for 1,000 loads.
  • If you're dealing with a coin-op, multiple machine situation at your building or use a laundromat, I find doing all the wash at once is less overwhelming because you can get 3 loads going at once.  

 

Well, that's how I keep our home reasonably clean, even with low energy and not much time.  If a tip or trick helped, please click the <3 button or share button below!