Monthly Archives: March 2011

Project: Simplify: Food, Food, Food

It’s week 4 of Project: Simplify over at Tsh’s blog, Simple Mom, and this week we will be working in the kitchen with a focus on the refrigerator and pantry. I think I am the most excited about this one! This is something that really needs to be done around here! We are waaaay overdue (you’ll see…).

The Refrigerator


 Just so you know, that brownish stuff is chocolate milk that spilled…oh a few months ago.

And the freezer side:

The Pantry (various cabinets in the kitchen plus a stairwell)

Why yes, as a matter of fact I do like tea.

And every once in a while (ha ha) pantry items end up on the counters, like this:

and this:

It really seems like I should be done with these pictures now, but I’m not!

Here’s the bread drawer:

And don’t forget the stairwell!

Tsh is also challenging us to make healthier choices as we feed our families. This has been a goal of mine that I have been slowly working toward for the past year or so. I have to say that I don’t think my pictures reflect that goal as much as I thought they would.

Some of that might be unhealthy stuff that’s just been sitting there unused for a long time and I just haven’t gotten rid of it. I’m excited to see how it all looks at the end of the week!!


Filed under Clutter, Food Clutter, Food Waste

Project: Simplify: Toy Decluttering Progress

(I was enjoying a late-night carrot snack as I was sitting down to write this post. At just the *right* time I sneezed and little carrot pieces went everywhere. No worries. I switched to chocolate so we’re good to go… :-))

I’m continuing to follow along with Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify and I have some progress to show you after dealing with lots of toys around here. The project was off to a pretty good start earlier in the week, fizzled in the middle, and picked back up to a running pace on Saturday.

Here’s a before picture from the living room:

I ended up bringing most of the toys from all around the house to the living room so that we could really see what we had. While I was searching for toys I found a sad discovery. These bags:

One bag was a bag from when I decluttered toys over a year ago. Yup. Still there. And the other 2 bags were from a “stage” I went through where I told my kids that if they didn’t pick up their toys, I would pack them up in trash bags and they couldn’t play with them for a long time. Something like that, anyway. It wasn’t a good solution, in case you are wondering. They were too young and I hadn’t taught them how to clean up their toys very well.

So I decided to dump 2 of the bags in the living room along with all the other toys that were gathering there to sort:

So we sorted and played and sorted some more so that like things were together.

We did some decluttering as we went, but we also looked at all the toys that we had and talked about giving away the ones they didn’t play with very much. I thought the kids did pretty well with that.

Here’s the give stuff:

And here’s the living room after we put most of the rest of the toys in the basement/family room/playroom:

Here’s a before from the basement:

The after pictures from the basement are a little strange because we just got a new TV and cabinet(both used), but we haven’t sold or donated the old one yet.  So here ya go:

The toy organizer is in the kitchen for right now:

Here are some toys on basement shelves. I’m thinking I’ll rotate toys through here maybe a couple times a month:

Just so you know, we are not finished with this! But we did make great progress! Some things that still need to be decluttered: dress up chest, kids books, arts & crafts stuff, DVD’s/videos, and misc. toys from under furniture and in random nooks and crannies.

Below is the other side of the playroom. I think it looks worse than it is because all those DVD’s and videos were taken out of their storage under the TV and other things were moved around to have room to bring in the new TV/cabinet, so as soon as we get rid of the old TV/cabinet, we can finish this room:

I’ll leave you with this organized picture:

If you want to see more kids’ toys (and clothes) before and after pictures, head over to Simple Mom’s link up!


Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Kids, Toys

Project: Simplify: Toys R all over Us

Here we are on week 3 of Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify. This week’s project is Toys and/or kids’ clothes. I am going to focus on toys!!

So I went around the house to take pictures of our toys. It was actually worse than I thought. It’s funny how taking pictures of it all makes me look at it a different way.

The living room is the favorite place to play, even though we keep trying to move all the toys out of there! They always come back! I think it’s because it’s right next to the kitchen, which is where I am most of the time, and it has nice natural light. (I can appreciate that. I am a light lover!) I personally also think that basement playroom is really chilly! 

Here’s the living room:

A closer look at these living room toys…

Here’s the basement/family room/playroom:

And here we have their bedroom. My 2 older kids share a room, and there really isn’t a lot of room for many toys there.

Tsh is encouraging us to have the kids help, which I think is great, but a bit more challenging than doing it on my own. Yesterday I told the kids about this week’s  project. These are some of the things we talked about:

We have a lot of toys.

We can give toys to other kids who need toys.

Some toys are broken/ripped/stained.

One question we asked:

Do we really love this toy and play with it a lot?

If not,  we can give it to someone else who might enjoy playing with  it more.

They were also inspired by the closet project and the desk project, so I think that really helped. I was setting a good example for them in this area! Yay!

We started with the stuffed animals. I had them collect all the stuffed animals from around the house and organize them on the couch. At first there were little peeps about how they didn’t think they wanted to get rid of any of them.

I had them each pick out their 3-4 favorites and put them in a toy box.  They liked that. And then on their own they each started offering up animals that they were ready to give away. We ended up with a box of 8 to give away(including one that needs to be thrown away)! They aren’t all the ones I would have picked, but that’s OK! I’m really happy with how that went.

But there’s a lot more work to do! I hope to post some fabulous results on Friday or Saturday. 

I would love to hear your thoughts/ideas/advice on dealing with this toy clutter!


Filed under Declutter, Kids, Toys

Project: Simplify: Wanna see a clean desk?

Well my goal was to post some progress Friday night, but it just didn’t happen. Sorry! So now that I’ve left you in suspense for an extra day or so, here’s the update!

My goals this week were to work on the paper clutter on the desk and the kitchen island, but really I have paper clutter all over the place and it was a little hard to focus. So I did end up collecting paper clutter from a few other places that were driving me nuts. Like this:

There were a few other things that gave me some challenges this week, like this cutie:

I did go through one big box of paper clutter. Check it out!

I decided to time myself to see how long it would take. It took me about 1 hr 30 min! And I really was trying to move quickly! But I did get stuck on at least one Christmas letter that I hadn’t read yet.

But here’s what it looked like after sorting.

Another issue I ran into was that my paper clutter had lots and lots of non-paper-clutter-friends, especially on the island and the desk, and I couldn’t stand dealing with just the paper clutter without dealing with the rest of it. It just seemed like it wouldn’t be as rewarding to me.

So I went to town.

On the desk.

I was trying to ask myself questions like:

Do we use this?

Do we love this?

Do we use/love this here in this spot?

Here’s the before:

Sorry the picture is kinda blurry! Moving along….

Here’s the after!!

Another before:

Another after!!!

You see that tan paper-organizer-thingy? My plan for now is that I will process mail right away and what doesn’t get recycled will go here with 3 categories: Elizabeth, Mr. RSS, and both. I think I just need to see how this goes for a little while and then we can revise as needed. I’m still working on the issue of processing school papers.

And by the way, I have spent $0.00 on this Project: Simplify stuff so far! I’ve just been using what I find around the house for my organizing! And on that same topic, I think my friend Kristen over at The Frugal Girl would also be proud to know that I used one of  my old T-shirts from cleaning out my closet and I made a rag (See Kristen’s post on T-shirt rags here) which I used to clean this desk! How cool is that?

What? You want one more after picture?

Oh, okay…

Now I do realize that there is much more to do on this paper clutter issue around here (I still have at least 3 boxes of paper clutter to go through, for example).  I will keep you updated on my progress!

 I’m linking up over at Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify: Paper Clutter Results, so head on over there if you like to see more paper clutter being banished.


Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Paper Clutter

Project: Simplify: Attack of the paper clutter!

This week’s hot spot over at Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify is paper clutter! This is another bad one around here. Our paper clutter enjoys collecting on pretty much any flat surface. I would say most of it consists of mail/bills and school papers/kids artwork.

Here are some before pictures. Be warned. It’s not pretty.

Desk area:

Yes, papers on the floor, too!

The kitchen island, which is still in pretty much the same condition as a week or so ago

Our paper clutter has lots of non-paper friends, too.

There’s more (and I have pictures), but these will be my main goals this week! I will also be working on some organization and maintenance ideas to keep this from continually happening again and again and again. How do you do with paper clutter?


Filed under Clutter, Paper Clutter

Project: Simplify: Clean closet alert!!


I did it! I did it! I really really did it! I cleaned and decluttered my closet area!!!! It was not easy and it took many hours, but the results are worth it!  Loads of before and after pictures await…


My, my, my










You could say that I found a lot of shoes…

I organized them and got rid of at least a dozen pairs!

And here’s what I got rid of…

Some nice dresses and a suit (this is just a sampling)


 some fun shoes…

Some goldie-butt capri jeans…

4 bags of clothes and a box of shoes!!!

Onward towards simplicity!

And if you want to see more before and after clean closets, head over to Simple Mom’s results link up for Project: Simplify week 1.


Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Organization

Project: Simplify: Things I found in my closet

I’ve been working on my closet/wardrobe with Project: Simplify this week and I thought I would take this little break to show you a few things I found well, under the pile of clothes that was actually blocking my closet area.

So, I’m trying to decide if I should keep these sandals….

Just Kidding! Did I scare you? They are now in the toss box!!!


Do you keep these kinds of things in your closet, too? You never know when you are going to need a drinking straw or toy butterfly while you are getting dressed in the morning!

And last but not least…..

well, maybe last and least…..

I’m pretty sure these are around a size 1. My little girly wears a size 4 now.

I bet you can’t wait for the after pictures on Friday!!!  Still a lot of work to do!! Gotta run….


Filed under Declutter, Funny(I hope)

Project: Simplify: I’m doing it!

Tsh over at Simple Mom is doing a decluttering project called Project: Simplify and I’m going to join in! She is picking one hot spot a week (for 5 weeks) for us to declutter and organize.

This is just the kind of thing I need to stay motivated and inspired! There is something very motivating to me about doing a project alongside someone else. I always work better that way!

So, even though I’m really working on my own, knowing there are bunches of other ladies all over the world doing the same thing really helps me! And there’s an accountability part with before and after pictures!

The first thing she challenged us to do was to develop a family purpose statement. It totally makes sense to me that my home should follow along with our family’s priorities and goals. We may want to flesh it out a bit more, but here is what we are starting with:

 As a family we will seek to glorify God by enjoying Him through our thoughts, words, and actions.

And I think my five reasons for simplifying actually work along with this. That makes me happy! 🙂

Sooooo Tsh just announced today that this week’s project is working on our wardrobes/closets. I was really really REALLY hoping it would be something else! My closet area was one place that I really wasn’t sure I could handle posting a picture of. It’s scary. For real.

It’s one of the places I usually (maybe that should be “always”) put off because most people never see it.

But I’m going to do it !

Here are 2 before pictures for today:

My, my, my... I have a lot of work to do.

Oh dear. Maybe you shouldn't look!

OK then! Off I go! I think you have a pretty good idea of what I’m in for!

Are you joining me in Project: Simplify? Or are you working on decluttering another area of your home?


Filed under Declutter, Goals, Motivation, Priorities

5 Reasons why I want to Simplify

This is a "Before" picture just begging for an "After" picture!!

 These are not in any particular order….

1.  I have too much stuff! If I declutter and get rid of stuff, it will be less stuff to take care of, clean, put away, organize, etc, which will give me more time to do things that are really important. And maybe someone else could really use some of the stuff that is just sitting around here! (OK, this is sort of 2 or 3 reasons in one.)

2.  I will save money. Things are getting broken from being stepped on. I won’t waste food  because it is lost in the refrigerator. I won’t buy things twice because I can’t find the first one I bought. I won’t get a fee from a late bill payment because I misplaced a bill or just forgot in my disorganization.

3.  I will bless my family.

4.  I will be a better example for my kids and will be able to teach and train them in this area so that hopefully they won’t have these same struggles.


 5.  I will bless others. I will be more likely to invite people over, and will have more time to volunteer and help others.

What are your reasons for simplifying? Do you have any to add?


Filed under Goals, Motivation, Priorities

Instant Inspiration

ONE organized shelf!

 I didn’t plan to do this, but look! Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen a little (super-inspired by Mr. RSS who was a dish-cleaning rock star). Excellent!  

But when I went to put the cookbooks away I couldn’t get them all to fit and the shelf was a mess with about a 3 inch stack of misc. recipe printouts, receipts, and sales flyers sitting on top of the disheveled cookbooks.

Normally, I might have added the cookbooks on top of the stack of papers, or maybe  just stack them on the island, or a stool or something.

But I was instantly inspired!

I said to myself, “No! Not this time! I will clean this ONE shelf and make everything fit or I will get rid of it!

It’s just too bad that I wasn’t inspired to grab my camera before I cleaned it up, because I love before and after pictures! Doesn’t everyone?

The best I could find to get a little “before” peek, is this one from Christmas, but you can’t see the impressive stack of papers on top of the cookbooks. But you can see 2 of my cute kids and some other messy stuff. 🙂

Super cheese smile from my boy.

Then scroll back up and look at that beautiful shelf! Much better! I threw some things away (or recycled), filed (sort of) some recipes, one cookbook moved to Mr. RSS’s office, and one is ready to leave the house!

I do think I could get rid of a few more cookbooks, but I think this is very good for now. If they all fit on one shelf, I am happy!

Where do you keep your cookbooks? Do you have a bunch or just a few?

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Motivation