When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping – in your own home.  That’s right  – shop your own home. I’ve done it many times when I get tired of looking at the same old things in the same old places. What about you? Are you tired of your surroundings?

You can be your own interior designer for free! First, take a walk around your home. Make a list of some areas that need to be refreshed. Then take another walk around your home. What are some items that you could move to refresh another area? That’s the basic premise of shopping at home for free.

Here are a few ideas to help you think through your interior design process.

  1. Rearrange the furniture.

 Critique the layout of the room in which you spend the most time. Is it serving you well for its purpose? What activities take place there? Try grouping furniture pieces according to their function. Create a reading nook. Or turn a couple of chairs toward the sofa to make a more inviting conversational area. Pull some furniture pieces away from the wall to make the arrangement more intimate.

  1. Redesign your bookshelves.

 Take a hard look at all those bookshelves. Are they overflowing with books that are cramped together? Pare down. Remove about half of the books, putting some in a pile to donate and some you want to keep in storage. Consider friends and neighbors who might enjoy reading some of the books you are willing to donate. Post some as freebies on Facebook.

When you’ve decided which books you want to remain on the bookshelves, place them in small groups of 3-5 in an interesting arrangement. You could sort by color or size. Stack a few of the larger books with trinkets or memorabilia.

Go shopping in other rooms for items you love and put them on display. Create a collection of like items and arrange them in an interesting way among your books.

  1. Create an inviting outdoor area.

 Get outside and create an inviting space to read or relax. Do you have an outdoor area that needs reviving? Or do you need to shop around the house for something to create a small outside area for a personal getaway? Be creative. A bucket turned upside down could be a small side table. Or a wooden crate with a pillow might make a comfortable seat.

  1. Paint!

 Paint makes everything new again. My grandmother loved to freshen up rooms and porches in the spring with a new coat of paint. It was so much fun helping her liven things up when the weather turned warm.

 Check to see if you have some leftover paint from another project. It only takes a small amount to cover a table or a chair. Look around for that special item that would brighten up an entire area with a bright new splash of color.

  1. Bring the outdoors in.

 Are there flowers blooming in your yard? Create a simple arrangement to bring life to your den. Don’t have flowers? Cut some fresh greenery and put a few stems into a vase or mason jar. Something green can breathe new life into a room.

  1. Create interesting vignettes.

 Do you have items you have collected through the years that have special meaning for you? Pick a few of your favorites to arrange in a simple vignette on a shelf or table. They should spark joy in an otherwise dull space.

 What about mementos that you have tucked away under the bed or in a closet? Think of ways you could showcase similar items where you could enjoy the memories they evoke.

  1. Update family photos.

 When was the last time you replaced family photos? Dig out some pictures that remind you of good times and special people. Add a mat to put a photo into a larger frame. Create a gallery ledge of special photos. Think about the mood you want to create and the photos that help you establish something special.

  1. Add fresh pillows.

 Do you have winter and summer pillows? I do. And it gives me a spark of energy to bring out the spring or summer pillows and put the winter ones away. Take another walk around your home. Swap some pillows between rooms for a fresher look with what you already have. New color combinations can be refreshing.

 If you have some leftover fabric, you can easily make an envelope pillow cover and slip it onto an old pillow for a fresh new look. I have several pillow covers that I use to create a different look, depending on the mood and season.

 Think about it. You can go shopping for free in the comfort of your own home. With a few creative changes and rearrangements, you’ll have a fresh new look to give you a fresh new outlook. What can you do to spark some joy in your home?

Five 5-Minute Decluttering Hacks to Start Conquering Your Stuff

Five 5-Minute Decluttering Hacks to Start Conquering Your Stuff

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Do you have a place for all your stuff? Or is your stuff stuffed into places where you can’t find it? Could you describe a lot of your stuff as clutter?

Decluttering has been a popular, or should I say prevalent, term in recent years. If you have stuff that you need to get rid of, then you have clutter. When your home is filled with clutter, trying to tackle a mountain of stuff can be quite overwhelming. In fact, it can be paralyzing. You know you need to do something, but you think there must be a commonly known place to start that everybody knows but you. So, you don’t do anything.

Here’s my advice: start with just five minutes. Baby steps are important. Sure, five minutes won’t barely make a dent in your managing all your stuff, but it’s a start. Celebrate when you’ve made that start!

Then take another five minutes tomorrow. And another the next day. Before you know it, you’ll have cleared a whole closet or a room and then half your house and then … who knows? Maybe one day you will have completed decluttering and you can describe your home as uncluttered!

For those who are overwhelmed by their clutter, here are some great ways to get started, five minutes at a time.

  1. Designate a spot for incoming papers. Papers often account for a lot of our clutter. This is because we put them in different spots — on the counter, on the table, on our desk, in a drawer, on top of our dresser, in our car. No wonder we can’t find anything! Designate an in-box tray or spot in your home (or at your office, for that matter) and don’t put down papers anywhere but that spot. Got mail? Put it in the inbox. Got school papers? Put it in the inbox. Receipts, warranties, manuals, notices, flyers? In the inbox! This one little change can really transform your paperwork.
  2. Start clearing a starting zone. Clear one area. This is your no-clutter zone. It can be a counter, or your kitchen table, or the three-foot perimeter around your couch. Wherever you start, make a rule: nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything must be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, keep it that way! Now, each day, slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes the whole house!
  3. Clear off a counter. Your goal is that all flat spaces are clear of clutter. They could still have useful or decorative items on them, such as a toaster or maybe a candle, but not things that don’t belong. Only you can decide what belongs. So start with one counter. Clear off everything possible, except maybe one or two essential things.
  4. Pick a shelf. Now that you’ve done a counter, try a shelf. It doesn’t matter what shelf. It could be a shelf in a closet, or on a bookshelf. Don’t tackle the whole bookshelf — just one shelf. Clear all non-essential things and leave it looking neat and clutter-free.
  5. Pick up 5 things and find a home for them. These should be things that you actually use, but they just seem to be put down anywhere, because they don’t have a home. If you don’t know exactly where things belong, you have to designate a place for them. Take a minute to think it through — where would be a good spot? Put them close to where they would be used. Then always put those things in those places when you’re finished using them. Now they have a home, which is the ultimate goal for everything you own. That is how you can actually end the decluttering process. Do this for everything in your home, a few things at a time. If everything has a home and you put everything in its home, you will not have clutter and therefore will not need to declutter!

This should give you a starting point. Just pick one hack that seems doable to you and get started! Once you get going, the whole process may unfold as you decide what you want things to look like and how you want to live in your space.

Next time, I’ll list a few more hacks that may help you conquer the overwhelming task of decluttering. I also have some ideas for stuff for storing your stuff!

Inexpensive Exterior Christmas Decorating with Impact

Inexpensive Exterior Christmas Decorating with Impact

Every Christmas season, friends and neighbors talk about the beauty of our home. As you can see from the above picture, our decorations are a simple and traditional Southern farmhouse style. They are also relatively inexpensive and can be done quickly and efficiently.

Our exterior decorating consists of garland around the front porch, wide ribbon and other touches of red, wreaths on the windows, a tree on the gazebo corner of the porch, Christmas topiaries by the front door and candles in the windows. It’s a classic look that never goes out of style.

We bought the artificial garland for half price after Christmas several years ago. My husband has it labeled in large plastic containers, so he knows exactly where to start. Within 30 minutes, he has the garland in place, and I finish up with touches of red. I layer wide red ribbon on top of the garland, held in place by occasional twists of garland. At each porch post, I insert dollar store poinsettia stems and stems of red berries. At the porch steps, I wire hand-tied red bows with ribbon streamers around the stair railing.

The red tree with red lights on the gazebo corner of the porch shows up beautifully from the road so it doesn’t need ornaments. The two smaller trees flanking the larger one are old topiaries that needed to be discarded. However, I wrapped them in red dollar store tinsel and red lights and they also show up well from a distance.

Wide red velvet ribbon frames the front door, held in place with clear packing tape. I made the Christmas topiaries last year and they are assembled within minutes. You can see how I made them at https://youtu.be/sRVHGPTV2Cw .

Long strips of red velvet ribbon hold up the artificial wreaths (also over half-price) by securing them in the top frame of each window. For more color, I wired inexpensive red balls on each wreath. Candles in the windows are set in the middle of the wreaths for a final touch.

If predictions are for colder weather than normal, I might insert pine boughs or cedar in the garland to make it look fuller and more natural. In colder weather, the natural additions will last through the Christmas season. But often, we experience spells of warm weather in December, and the natural elements dry out too quickly.

All of this decorating takes less than half a day and everything was purchased at the dollar store or at least half price at a craft store. All decorations are kept in labeled large plastic containers, which were purchased at after-Christmas sales and stored in our barn. We have a system for decorating the house exterior and a system for removing and storing the decorations. Beautiful Christmas decorating doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Keep it simple, shop the sales and develop a system for decorating and storing the decorations.

I Kon Mari-ed My Clothes

I Kon Mari-ed My Clothes

Yes, I “kon mar-ied” my clothes! I know that’s not a word, but it just seemed appropriate as I completed the first step in the Kon-Mari process. Note the “deer in the headlights” look  in the featured photo – that’s me at the beginning of the Kon-Mari process! I fully intend to have a better photo (one of me smiling!) at the end of the process.

If you read my previous post about Kon-Mari, you know it is the process of tidying as defined by Marie Kondo. Tidying is the task of transforming your home into a sanctuary of natural energy that meshes totally with your own natural energy. It should be a celebration, a special event that allows you to confront yourself and discover the balance needed to live your life in contentment and peace surrounded by the things that bring you joy. All of which is how tidying is defined by Marie Kondo.

Marie has published two wildly popular books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. She also has a Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

And Marie was right – starting with clothes is the easiest starting point. For me, the process of handling each item of clothing and deciding whether it sparked joy was a relatively quick and painless process. Maybe that’s because I don’t have a lot of clothes in the first place, and I’m not emotionally attached to most of them.

So, I gathered all my clothes and put them on my bed. It really helped that I had already purged my closet within the past year. Then I held each piece and waited for the spark of joy. I did have a few joy-sparking pieces, but mostly I just felt contentment with items that covered me without drawing attention to areas that needed no attention. So I considered that a spark of joy.

The whole process from gathering the clothes to folding or hanging and putting them away took approximately two hours. I was actually quite pleased with how quickly it went. I ended up with a couple of boxes of clothes to donate, and a few went straight to the wastebasket.

I use an armoire to store most of my clothes, which was originally a china cabinet in the home where I grew up. As you can see in a picture below of the armoire, my husband did not participate in the process. Therefore, he doesn’t know what clothes he actually owns (and doesn’t care), and he ends up picking up the shirt and shorts/pants that are on the top of the pile. He claims the present system of disorganization brings him joy! My clothes are the neatly-folded ones in the clear plastic bins.

At this point, I’m very happy with the process. I can see exactly what I own, making it much easier to find what I’m looking for. And scaling back on the number/amount of my clothes keeps the process of deciding what to wear very simple. (I’m still having a hard time folding underwear, though.)

Scroll through the picture gallery below to see the results of my Kon Mari-ed clothes! Have you considered this process for yourself?

Comment and let me know what you think!

What the Heck is Kon-Mari?

What the Heck is Kon-Mari?

Does the term “spark joy” mean anything to you? It does if you know about Marie Kondo, the tidying queen. Marie has published two wildly popular books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and Spark Joy. She also has a Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Of course, I’ve read the books and watched the Netflix series in a couple of sittings!

 

WHAT IS TIDYING?

Tidying is the task of transforming your home into a sanctuary of natural energy that meshes totally with your own natural energy. It should be a celebration, a special event that allows you to confront yourself and discover the balance needed to live your life in contentment and peace surrounded by the things that bring you joy.

 

That is tidying according to Marie. Sounds like a lot to expect of a little cleaning up! But, I do want some natural energy in my home. My biggest concern at this point is how much energy am I going to have to expend to acquire that natural energy of which Marie speaks. I think it’s worth a shot, but I expect to be exhausted before the joy sets in.

 

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF TIDYING?

The goal of tidying is the realization of joy in your life. To experience that joy, you need to visualize the lifestyle you want as a result of a clutter-free space. Then, through the Kon-Mari method of tidying, you can achieve that goal that allows you to become the person you want to be. Tidying is a one-time event that, once completed, frees you to be the person you want to be.

 

Wow! That’s one big promise. Since I’ve never really discovered joy in cleaning up, I’m a little skeptical about such a huge transformation in my life just by “tidying”.

 

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CONCEPTS BEHIND THE TIDYING PROCESS?

The Kon-Mari method begins with discarding, followed by organizing the space. The emphasis is not on the discarded items, but on identifying items you want to keep – those that spark joy in your life. Each possession must be handled one by one to identify whether the item sparks joy for you. This happens in a marathon event of tidying that culminates in finding a home for each item kept.

 

Discard – not organize. Sounds like I’m going to make a bigger mess than I started with. And then, within that mess, I’m going to find joy. I do have some things in my home that “spark joy”, but I’m not sure if I’ll find it in my clothes, which is the first category to address in the process.

 

WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OF TIDYING?

Finally, Marie promises a life transformation with feelings of serenity, purpose and joy. Your home should now embrace you with order and calm.

 

That’s a lot to ask from what everyone else calls “decluttering”. However, I do dream about all my possessions having a place to put them – “a place for everything and everything in its place: So, I must admit, I’m curious. And for the sake of “science”, I’m going to implement the Kon-Mari method in my home, and you’re going to be the judge of the results. See you next time!

Does the term “spark joy” mean anything to you? It does if you know about Marie Kondo, the tidying queen. Marie has published two wildly popular books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and Spark Joy. She also has a Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Of course, I’ve read the books and watched the Netflix series in a couple of sittings!

 

WHAT IS TIDYING?

Tidying is the task of transforming your home into a sanctuary of natural energy that meshes totally with your own natural energy. It should be a celebration, a special event that allows you to confront yourself and discover the balance needed to live your life in contentment and peace surrounded by the things that bring you joy.

 

That is tidying according to Marie. Sounds like a lot to expect of a little cleaning up! But, I do want some natural energy in my home. My biggest concern at this point is how much energy am I going to have to expend to acquire that natural energy of which Marie speaks. I think it’s worth a shot, but I expect to be exhausted before the joy sets in.

 

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF TIDYING?

The goal of tidying is the realization of joy in your life. To experience that joy, you need to visualize the lifestyle you want as a result of a clutter-free space. Then, through the Kon-Mari method of tidying, you can achieve that goal that allows you to become the person you want to be. Tidying is a one-time event that, once completed, frees you to be the person you want to be.

 

Wow! That’s one big promise. Since I’ve never really discovered joy in cleaning up, I’m a little skeptical about such a huge transformation in my life just by “tidying”.

 

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CONCEPTS BEHIND THE TIDYING PROCESS?

The Kon-Mari method begins with discarding, followed by organizing the space. The emphasis is not on the discarded items, but on identifying items you want to keep – those that spark joy in your life. Each possession must be handled one by one to identify whether the item sparks joy for you. This happens in a marathon event of tidying that culminates in finding a home for each item kept.

 

Discard – not organize. Sounds like I’m going to make a bigger mess than I started with. And then, within that mess, I’m going to find joy. I do have some things in my home that “spark joy”, but I’m not sure if I’ll find it in my clothes, which is the first category to address in the process.

 

WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OF TIDYING?

Finally, Marie promises a life transformation with feelings of serenity, purpose and joy. Your home should now embrace you with order and calm.

 

That’s a lot to ask from what everyone else calls “decluttering”. However, I do dream about all my possessions having a place to put them – “a place for everything and everything in its place: So, I must admit, I’m curious. And for the sake of “science”, I’m going to implement the Kon-Mari method in my home, and you’re going to be the judge of the results. See you next time!