Category Archives: Before and After

Hi There, Kitchen Counters!

Tsh from Simple Mom was doing her Project Simplify in the kitchen last week, and I decided to join in. My kitchen counters were drowning in clutter and I needed to save them. And that is just what I did. I bet you would enjoy some before and after pictures. Here you go!

Before:

After:

Before:

Here are some of the things I had to deal with from the end counter there.

I had 4 mugs sitting on that counter holding pens, tools, and other miscellaneous stuff! I took it from 4 mugs to 1, although the paper towels are hiding the 1 mug in this after photo.

And let me tell you, I was serious about getting those counters clean. I took everything off the counters, including the microwave. This is the grossness that was behind and under the microwave and coffee stuff:

And here it is now:

Here’s another before of a little counter next to the refrigerator:

After:

Here are a couple more after pictures to enjoy:

I got a “Wow!” from Mr. RSS and it feels great to be in my kitchen right now.

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Love by Decluttering | The Master Bedroom Project – Before and After!

I’ve been decluttering and organizing The Master Bedroom this month as part of my Love By Decluttering project. Laura from I’m an Organizing Junkie has helped me stay focused and motivated as I have been following along with her 29 Day Organizing Challenge this month!

If you want to catch up on all of the posts related to this project, here’s a list:

I am so excited to show you these before and after pictures!

Before – Walking in the door…

After:

Before:

After:

Before:

After – There’s floor!

Before #1 of the mega pile.

Before #2 of the mega pile to  show what was under that pile of clothes – more clutter!

After!

Before:

After – Crazy! In a good way.

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

My word for my newly decluttered and organized bedroom? Peaceful.

As part of concluding the 29 Day Organizing Challenge, Laura gave us 7 questions to answer:

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?

I chose the master bedroom because I wanted to bless my husband with a peaceful retreat, not a chaotic clutterfest. It benefits me, too, of course. And you know what? I will feel so much better about telling my kids to clean their room, now that I am setting a good example.

2.  What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?

I think one of the most important steps was committing to participate in all of the progress link ups. I didn’t want to link up a post showing no progress, so I knew I would at least do something each week and not procrastinate until the end.

It also helped to have a method to follow. Laura has these great PROCESS steps for organizing. These are the basic steps, but you can read more about it here.

Plan of attack – I chose the master bedroom, and worked my way around the room starting with the worst area. Then I went bask through again to get anything I missed and to do finishing touches.

Remove items – I did this in stages as I worked my way around. For example, I took everything out of my closet, vacuumed and wiped down the area and cleaned any clothes that needed it.

Organize into piles – I had trash and recycling bags, and give/sell bags to help sort through things. For the items I was keeping, I had like items with like.

Containerize – In some cases there were containers, and sometimes it was just how much room was on a shelf. This was very helpful in deciding to get rid of things until they would fit in the space.

Evaluate plan – Since the project just ended, this will be happening over the next few weeks.

Solve/Simplify any remaining issues – As I evaluate over the next few weeks, I will tweak things to make them work better!

Smile, relax and enjoy your hard work! 🙂

3.  What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?

Not getting overwhelmed. It was especially hard when I realized just how much paper and other miscellaneous clutter was hiding in my room. I really wanted to just move it out of there to deal with later, but I knew that would be the wrong choice. That’s how it ended up in my room to begin with.

In order to get through this, I broke it into smaller parts sometimes by working in small chunks of time or by having a goal of one box in a day.

My friend Kristen offered to come over and help one afternoon, too, and that really helped keep me motivated towards the end.

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

-Some of it went to other rooms in the house (toys, kids’ clothes, potty seats)

-A lot of it left in a recycling/trash truck! (Mostly paper clutter)

-A lot went to Goodwill. (clothes, household/decorative items, books) My friend Kristen took some bags with her, and the rest are by the door.  Mr. RSS is taking them today!

Here’s today’s load going to Goodwill:

I thought I was going to try to sell some things, but I realized that was too big of a barrier/time commitment and I just needed to get them out of the house!

5.  Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?

Getting through a box of paper clutter while I had 3 kids in the bedroom with me. Need I say more? Somehow it worked. They actually loved looking through the old Family Fun magazines I was finding. It just helped me realize/remember that I can declutter with kids underfoot, on lap, running around, etc.

6.  Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?

A lot of my organizing tools were already there and I had just allowed them to get overrun. So a lot of the process for me was paring down so that what I have will easily fit on the shelf or in the container without being crowded and cluttered.

-I made sure my shoes fit nicely on the shoe rack (I got rid of 2 or 3 pairs of shoes)

-I Paired down my sweatshirts so that they fit in one box that is stored on the floor for out of season storage.

-I got rid of some T-shirts so that all of my T-shirts would fit nicely on the shelf or in one drawer of my dresser.

7.  What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?

Work with a deadline and tell someone about it who will keep you accountable.

Going Forward

An important thing for me in this process has been figuring out how the bedroom got this way, and how I’m going to keep it from happening again. Here are my take-aways:

No hiding clutter from other rooms in the bedroom.

Clothes need to be put away right away. Clothes that are dirty into the laundry basket and clothes that are clean into the closet or drawers. There is no in-between place in the bedroom for clothes to hang out in a big messy pile. Kids’ clothes go in their rooms, not mine.

The one in, one out rule. You might be surprised to learn that shopping is not my problem. In the last year I only purchased 2 clothing items: a white T-shirt and a white tank top. And as far as clothing gifts go, there were 1 or 2 T-shirts and 2 pairs of  shoes. My problem isn’t bringing stuff into the house so much as it is never letting it leave. That has changed quite a bit this year, though. So for every item that comes into the house, I will get rid of at least one similar item.

Maintenance. I think when I have the kids clean their rooms on Saturdays, I’ll just think of that as a time for all of us to clean our rooms!

Head on over to I’m an Organizing Junkie to be inspired by more room transformations!

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Love By Decluttering | The Master Bedroom Project – Update #3

I didn’t get as much done this week because I have been dealing with a broken refrigerator. SO not fun!

I cleaned out 2 laundry baskets and 1 box of clutter.

Those 2 clutter-filled laundry baskets have spent time hanging out all around my house over this past year.

I brought them down to the kitchen and worked my way through them throughout the day. I had “help.”

Check it out!

I also spent a morning, with all 3 kids in the bedroom with me, clearing out this box:

You can see the box in the first picture with more stuff in it. I took this picture after I already started.

Here’s the recycling from that box:

And here’s what I am keeping (but not in the bedroom!):

And here’s the beautiful empty box:

Can you tell that I am getting faster at decluttering paper? I can! All of my practice this year must be paying off! It also helps that this was year-old paper clutter.

I also feel like I’m doing a better job at working on my decluttering projects with the kids around. That is good, because they are around a lot! And I love ’em! 🙂

I am planning to meet with Mr. RSS to talk about books. This is something we need to go through together to make sure we agree on what to get rid of. We are thinking about selling many of them on half.com.

I know that I really need to ramp up and focus this week. I have a lot still to do!!

I’ll be back on Wednesday to show you the finished product! A clean and decluttered master bedroom! Woo!

And Ack! I’m feeling the pressure of the deadline!

I’m excited to be linking up with the 29 Day Organizational Challenge over at Org Junkie!

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My 6.5 Pound Purse

I knew my purse was getting heavy. But 6.5 pounds? That’s like carrying around a 5 lb. bag of flour and a can of soda in your purse all day. My poor shoulder!

So when Rachel over at Small Notebook cleaned out her handbag, I knew I needed to join her!

Here’s the before shot.

Of course I had to take everything out and start fresh. So here it is, trash and all! Look at my 2-year-old going for the raisins. Cutie.

I was a little surprised at the amount of sand in the bottom of my purse.

I got rid of the trash, receipts, and a ton of grocery shopping lists and did a general sort job to see what was there.

You know, it’s the typical things you might find in a purse: wallet, make-up bag, sweet note from my hubby, rock, balloons, 2 pairs of scissors, my Shrinky Dink name tag, toothbrush, socks, paper airplanes, car key from the car I sold over 2 years ago. Typical.

I just realized that I have everything I need to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with real objects! Now why didn’t I think of that before? Oh well.

Here’s what’s actually going back into the purse:

No, no one is going to accuse me of being a minimalist. I’m okay with that.

I really like having small things grouped in clear bags so that they aren’t getting lost and confused in the bottom of the purse.

And guess what? My purse lost 3 pounds in a week!

Here’s my 3.5 pound purse:

 You know you want to weigh your purse  now, don’t you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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My Husband Rocks at Decluttering | Man on a Mission Strikes Again. This time: Paper Clutter

This man puts me to shame when he gets to decluttering.

It took me 7 weeks to go through one box of paper clutter.

Mr. RSS went through about 6 boxes of paper clutter in ONE day!

He sent 4 or 5 big black trash bags of paper clutter out the door!

A few things that helped him: 1) I kept the kids busy (Huge help, right?!) 2) A bunch of the paper was damaged from our little basement flood. 3) It was really really old paper clutter (much of it around 10 years old).

He was working in the basement. Here’s the before picture. I didn’t think to take one that day, so this is a few months ago. He basically took out that front row of boxes.

Some other things were moved around, so it’s a little hard to see the progress, but notice that bookcase that you can just barely see in the first picture is now quite visible.

Here we have a pile of empty boxes (plus there’s at least one that got recycled):

And the bonus? He found a $100 saving bond that was a gift for our son, and $25 cash that was a baby gift for our now 7-year-old daughter. Gotta love that!

4 Decluttering Tips from Mr. RSS

1. Tenacious focus.

2. Remember the #1 goal is to purge.

3. Don’t tie emotion to objects or pieces of paper.

4. Hold to the stuff of this earth loosely.

Happy Decluttering!

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Organizing the spice cabinet by category | Before and After

I wasn’t sure what decluttering and organizing project to work on next, so when I saw that my friend Kristen at The Frugal Girl was organizing her cabinets and inviting others to join in, I knew that was my ticket to motivation!

I like to cook. I like to try different recipes. I have a ton of spices. Too many, I think. And disorganization usually reigns.

Problems that lead to spice clutter:

  • I buy a spice that I don’t usually use for one recipe I want to try.
  • I buy too many seasoning blends. Aren’t they fun and easy, though?
  • I don’t use all of the spices I own, but I don’t want to get rid of them because I might come across a recipe that needs that spice, and I don’t want to have to buy it again.
  • Disorganized spices. I don’t always put them back after using them which leads to spice containers cluttering up the counter, wasted time looking for spices, and buying duplicate spices because I don’t realize I already have an extra jar of nutmeg in the back of that random shelf.

Note to self: You don’t need to own every spice and spice blend known to man and grocery store to be able to cook a variety of meals.

The spice cabinet before organizing

The first step was clearing the space. As I was doing the clearing, I found this fun discovery:

Really? 6 cans of cooking spray?

And you know what? 4 of them were pretty much empty, just sitting there. So now I’m down to this:

Much better!

I also threw out some other things that were very expired and/or gross.

Now let’s focus in on those spices. Here they are on the island along with a cute little boy.

Lots of spices

Here’s the empty cabinet:

Yuck. The counter that had all the spices on it was even worse.

This next picture is actually encouraging to me. The bag on the left contains mystery spices from who-knows-when (pre-blog). The bag on the right is recent and I know exactly what is in there. I wrote the date on it, too after I took this picture. I think I’m learning something!

Labeling is good!

Next, I separated out all of the seasoning blends (or at least the ones I think of as blends).

Seasoning Blends

Gabe helped me and we alphabetized the rest of the spices and stacked the duplicates.

Alphabetized spices

I usually organize my spices alphabetically. I’m using the word “usually” very loosely here, because I never seem to keep up with that system very well.

So I decided to take  a break to see Kristen’s before and after pictures. She used containers to group her spices by category. I kind of loved that idea, and I was really ready to try something new, so back to work I went with my new plan!

Little Anna “helped” too.

Spice hopping. A new Little People sport.

I started out just doing the spices that way, but I was loving it so much that I organized that entire cabinet.

Here’s the bottom shelf, where I am keeping my most commonly used spices. I have them separated into savory, spicy, and sweet.

Savory, Spicy, Sweet

The next shelf is more of a baking shelf. You will find a nice big, important container of chocolate, one for nuts, and one for dried fruit.

Baking shelf: Nuts, dried fruit, chocolate

The next shelf up hold less-frequently used spices, and the top shelf holds spice duplicates and some infrequently used spice blends.

infrequently used spices and duplicates

I put the more frequently used spice blends on a turntable in the corner cabinet.

Spice Blends

Let’s look at that before picture one more time, for comparison:

The spice cabinet before

After!

Organized spice cabinet with a clear counter!

Now I’m jazzed to organize some more cabinets! I’ll keep you posted on how this new system is working out, too. I’m expecting it to save me time, money, and sanity.

How do you like to organize your spices? 

 

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Cleaning the Kids’ Room | Before and After

Two signs it’s time to clean the kids’ room:

1. Everywhere you look is a jumbled mess.

2. You can’t even get to the closet.

The Process:

I started by simply sending the kids (ages 7 and 5)  upstairs to clean their room on their own.  They worked on it for a while and made some good progress, but to really finish the job well, they needed my help and direction. It was a lot of work (because not cleaning it for many months will do that), but we worked together and made great progress! Take a look!

Before – Dare we enter? What is up with the trash all over the floor?

After – The box you see there is for toys.

Before – This rocker-glider was never supposed to be there for more than a week or so. I moved it in there when Mr. RSS was out of town and I was on my own with an infant plus the other 2 and it just made it easier at that time. That was almost 2 years ago… and here sits that chair.

After – The chair is back in the nursery, but really I think it just needs to leave the house soon…

The closet doors can even close. What a concept!

Here are some clothes that are getting donated:

Before:

After:

Did you notice that Gabe’s bed grew? He finally has a big boy bed, thanks to my sister. He’s super thrilled!

Books before – No, no, no.

Books after – Yes!

 What we’ve learned:

  • Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. Keeping it clean or cleaning it when it’s just a little messy are much easier than waiting for it to be a big stinkin’ mess. Easier said than done. I think I’ll try a Saturday morning room inspection each week.

 

Other Updates:
  • We finally put up a Christmas tree and started decorating! Christmas music is playing and there is a fire in the fireplace. Bunches of boxes are out of the living room (but just moved to the basement). I’m loving the peaceful atmosphere. I took some before pics. Maybe I’ll take some after shots to show you this week for fun.
  • The kitchen is a mess. I need to tackle that tomorrow.

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Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway – Week 2 | Shoe bins

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week, we’re continuing to work on the entryway. 

Well, hello there! Wow, it’s been quite a week around here. We had a stomach bug hit us and now I am just trying to catch up on everything. Thankfully, we are all better now, and back to our regular activities. So let’s take a quick look at the entryway, shall we?

This before picture was actually taken on Tuesday or Wednesday:

I admit it! I’m the one with too many shoes here.

I wanted to try the container idea that at few people have suggested, so I went on a little hunt around the house and found these:

I really should have put prettier shoes on the top there. Oh well. It's the real deal here.

Now we are going to skip along to Sunday for a new before picture:

Those shoe bins have been working well so far. I have one for grown up shoes and one for kid shoes.

I only needed to work on things for about 5 minutes to get it looking like this:


I’m happy with that! I do have more ideas for that closet, though. And my lovely readers shared some great ideas in the comments last week. We’ll check back in on this clutter hot spot next week.

Other Updates:

  • I’m still planning to show you some fun before and after pictures from the kids’ room. Hopefully this week!
  • I hope to get the menu plan for the week up tonight. I need to decide what to make with one cooked chicken breast…
I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.

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Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway | Week 1

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m looking at the entryway. Actually, I needed to do more than just look at it. 

Isn’t it so nice to come home, take of your coat, and kick off your shoes? That’s what we like to do.

See?

It’s just so nice to have your coat and shoes right by the door so that you can just put them on as you walk out the door.

What’s not nice is that there are 5 of us doing this in a rather small space, and with more than one pair of shoes each. They do start to accumulate, don’t they?

I picked the entryway this week because it was just driving me crazy and causing us to waste time as people tried to dig through a pile of shoes and coats before leaving the house. It was driving us all crazy I suppose, so I knew it would bless my family if I could work on fixing it up.

I started out setting the timer for 15 min, just to see how far I could get. I was able to pretty much get everything sorted in 15 min.

These are all of the shoes that were in and around that closet.

Here’s the laundry pile, kitchen, and trash/recycling.

And these were the things heading upstairs.

This is a large pile of give away/sell/return-type stuff. Some of it is leftovers from the yard sale. It’s all still there right now, but maybe we can deal with it this weekend.

The next step was removing items that didn’t belong there or that we don’t need/want at all, and organizing what was left. Gee, seems so simple sometimes. Our current rule is that each person can keep 1 or 2 pairs of shoes in that closet. So, we’re back to that maintenance problem again, because we obviously haven’t been following that rule very well.  The kids helped deliver all of the extra shoes and things to their proper places.

And here’s the after picture!

And here’s a peek into the closet.

Much better! I’m thinking I’ll stick with this hot spot for at least a couple more weeks to see how things are going. Plus I have some ideas that might help that coat closet.

Is your entryway a clutter hot spot, too? If you have any tips or ideas to share, I’m all ears!

I’m linking up at OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing!

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Hot Spot Check Up: Revisiting Kitchen Island

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m returning to the kitchen island, which is the hot spot that started this whole thing to begin with. 

Oh, Kitchen Island, how I’ve missed decluttering you! 

Here’s a before picture:

I actually took a second before picture from a different angle just to show you that I did at least have a small area that was clear… (Am I just trying to make myself feel better here? Whatever works!)

Here’s the after picture:

The story with the island seems to be the same as with most areas I work on. After it gets cleaned up and decluttered, I’m able to keep it looking nice for a while, and then just a few things are sitting there out of place or “just for now.” and it still looks pretty good…

But then those items start to invite all of their friends. And those friends invite even more clutter friends until it’s a wild and crazy clutter party.

I’m thinking maintenance is key. Need to work on that.

I’m so happy to have my island looking clean and clear. I’m a much happier cook with more space. And there’s a more peaceful feel to the kitchen this way as well. And I do have some cooking to do…

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