Monday, February 3, 2014


I've developed a new tactic to clear the clutter: I move stuff from my condo to my minivan, lol.

Seriously, it's working for me.

Here's how:

Step 1: Bag slated for Goodwill goes into the van. Bag for tailor goes into the van. Bag with choice children's hand-me-downs for my babysitter's daughter goes into van. Library books, van. Box for post office run, van.

Step 2: When I make a stop at babysitter's house, I remember that bag of hand-me-downs. Suddenly, I have one less bag in the car!

Step 3: When I drive by Goodwill, I remember that bag of donations and make a quick detour to drop it off (via the drive-through lane -- I don't go in the store!!).

Step 4: Stop by tailor's on my way to work this morning. Discover the items I thought she could mend/fix, she can't. Sad, yes. But now I can -- finally! -- move on from that dream of fixing this beloved dress (see photo above).

And so on.

As the Flylady might say: "Progress, not perfection."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekend Project: 1 kitchen cabinet

Kitchen cabinet: Before:

Kitchen cabinet: After:

Decluttering might be in the eye of the beholder, perhaps, because I don't really think the "before" anad "after" images are much different. But I am hoping that my "new" cabinet will work better for me -- there are now office supplies on the first shelf (paper and pens, tape, stapler) that needed a new home now that the dining room cubbies are gone. The second shelf has my coffee supplies; the top shelf has breakable glasses that I use (but try to keep out of my children's reach), a container of batteries I need to recycle, etc.

Bonus points for me: Thanks to decluttering/reorganizing the cabinet, I finally returned that yellow mug to its true owner, the real World's Best Teacher, Miss Carter!

A side note: The reason I gave myself such a small weekend project? I had the kids this weekend and I try not to overdo it when I have the kids because it's hard to declutter when they're around and I don't want to spend our weekends together doing massive decluttering projects.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

One step forward ...

Although I dropped off several boxes of stuff at my neighborhood Goodwill on Monday, I must admit that I used this opportunity to also do a bit of shopping.

As I always tell myself, "Well, it can't hurt to look ..."

Yes, it can hurt.

It can fill my home with clutter!

It can also hurt my checkbook. As a single mom, I've learned the hard way that every penny really does count.

I have also learned that thrift stores are a "trigger" for me and I now avoid them most of the time.

I do, however, let myself do a bit of "treasure hunting" (shopping at secondhand shops) every other weekend -- on payday weekends, which are also the weekends the kids are with their dad and thus I have some time to meander.

However, Monday was not a sanctioned shopping day. And yet ...  I could not resist these shoes. Such bright and happy looking garden clogs, made in Germany, and they "sort of" fit. I spent $10 on them (overpriced).

The good news: I bought the clogs, but I resisted this desk. I really wanted it -- really -- but it was $200! $200 at Goodwill?! I had it all planned out in my mind though: I would purchase the desk and then deliver it to Three Freckles for a paint makeover. I'd get it back and it'd be all shabby chic, a magnificent writing desk. But ... the time is not right for me to spend that kind of money ($400 plus). I have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


A few months ago, I was trying to find my children's birth certificates, but  I couldn't locate all of them (hmmm, I guess that means I have a lot of children, lol). I was talking over my dilemma with an organized mom friend, who told me she has a file labeled "important papers" and it was filled with documents like birth certificates, social security cards, vaccination records, etc. I should have a file like that, but I don't -- oh, wait, now I do!

While the kids were with their dad last weekend, I hunkered down and went through my boxes of papers. Not all of the boxes, maybe about seven. I spent hours sorting papers for recycling, shredding and to keep. Fortunately, in these boxes, I located the birth certificates, my passport, vaccination records and more.

After the sort, I was shopping at Target when I found this SentrySafe on clearance for $20. I bought it, and after I got home, looked up more info on this family's experience mentioned on the box.

I can't vouch for the product, all I know is that at least some of my important papers are now more secure! I am still sorting ...

Friday, January 10, 2014

AFTER: Dining room

Here's my dining room before I started decluttering it:

Here it is now, about nine days later:

Acting on the momentum I built, I cleared the foyer, too:

Although -- if you opened the lockers and the closet, you'd see there is still plenty of decluttering ahead!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Raggedy Ann & Co.

On Tuesday, many schools across Minnesota were canceled for a second day due to it being cold in January (OK, really cold -- Polar Vortex cold). I didn't expect to get much decluttering done with children afoot -- children are generally clutter producers, not clutter dispersers -- but I did manage to get three boxes and a bag of stuff organized and out the door for a previously scheduled pick-up by the Epilepsy Foundation. Goodbye, Raggedy Ann. Goodbye, dust pan. Goodbye, zebra pillows. I will try not to replace you immediately with new things.

Monday, January 6, 2014

"A Room of One's Own"

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." -- Virginia Woolf

I write non-fiction and I don't have much money, but I do have lots of rooms of my own -- my condo is about 1,200 square feet. Yet, I don't feel like I really do have a room of my own, because I also have three children and a dog living with me in this one-level apartment, lol. But I do have a storage room, located on a different floor in my building. It is definitely in need of decluttering before it can feel like a retreat:

What I would like to do in 2014 is to turn this storage room into my office. The issues: It is not heated and I don't see any outlets in it. And, I'm not sure what the rules of my condo association are in terms of wiring, etc.

For now, though, I can focus on the first step, decluttering the room. Maybe then I'll find my missing condo guidebook (with all rules and regulations, etc.). Of course, I can also dream and be inspired by examples like this shed makeover.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I've been working away at the dining room this weekend and, as you can see, it's a lot emptier than when I began!

My 11-year-old is happy. He said: "It's a lot easier to move around than before."

I moved the dollhouse/bookshelf  into the master suite for now. As for the locker cubbies ...

... I moved those into the garage. I bought them at a place I must stay away from in 2014, the University of Minnesota Reuse Program.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


My 9-year-old has decided to join me on this journey. At first, she was going to pick her own name, which I think is quite profound! Then she thought some more and decided on: “Selfie.” Love! I think it will be interesting to follow her through her year of self-portraits.

Friday, January 3, 2014


To reach a port we must set sail --
Sail, not tie at anchor
Sail, not drift.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
This is what decluttering feels like to me: A bit of peace and light, a bit of the sea. I moved the giant dollhouse/bookshelf out of the dining room and into my bedroom and for now the dollhouse is empty, except for this nightlight seashell. I love the sea and it's nice to clear the clutter for the items I truly love.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Does This Room Make Me Look Like a Hoarder?

OK, so a lot of the rooms in my condo might make me look like a hoarder. But this room, especially, well, the clutter feels like it's choking me. This is our dining room.

My long-term goal for this room is to add built-in bookshelves and replace the chandelier. I also want a different dining room set.

My short-term goal is to move the bookshelf (which is really a dollhouse) to another room ... move those locker cubbies to the garage ... sell the old TV table (where the lamp is) and replace it with a short, stout dresser (a better place to hide away things like plastic bags than those cubbies).  That chair in the foreground will move once I get the Christmas tree down.

If you notice, though ... I am still just *moving* things around, mostly. And, as the Flylady says, "You can't organize clutter; you can only get rid of it!" Well, at least I'm getting rid of the vintage TV stand.

Anyone want it? I purchased it at Empty the Nest for $15 in 2013.

The dollhouse/bookshelf, well, I just am not emotionally ready to release that, lol. Besides, who would take it? Also, I love it: It was my best curbside find ever!

This dollhouse was always meant to be in the girls' room -- they want it for their Barbies. However, when we moved into our condo in January 2012, we discovered that the dollhouse is too bulky on the bottom to turn the corner into that particular bedroom.

Thus, it has served as a bookshelf in the dining room.

Here are my options, then:

Move the dollhouse into my master suite, the only one of the three bedrooms that it can easily be transported.

Move the dollhouse to the garage for summer play only.

Get rid of it.

Partly disassemble it so that I can then reassemble it in the girls' room. Actually, that's no longer an option, at least not an easy one; because, last summer, I purchased two twin canopy beds that take up pretty much all of the wall space in the girls' small bedroom.

For now, I think I will move the dollhouse into the master suite and turn it around so that the white part is facing me (it's a lot more calming that way, it looks like a piece of art, versus the dollhouse part, which has a hideous unicorn wallpaper border on it).

In terms of the books -- now that this dollhouse will really be a dollhouse -- I am in the midst of a massive book purge. The books I keep, well ... stay tuned.

Here's the motivation for my dining room re-do: I imagine clean, gallery-white walls. A table with at least four chairs (our current table, we only have three b/c one chair broke). A peaceful place to eat and do crafts.

Well, maybe I'll  hang one painting in the room. For now, I'm thinking it will be this one, a treasure I found at Hunt and Gather:

By the way, we do have an eat-in kitchen, but we don't use the eat-in part to eat -- instead, it's our away room -- a  Sarah Susanka term for a room set apart from the noise of the TV in the living room, a kind of retreat to read, study, talk. I like this room a lot, and although it needs some tweaking, I don't want to overhaul it like I do the dining room. Speaking of Susanka, I like the idea of turning my dining room into a sort of library. Ultimately, my vision looks like this.

For now, though, clean and uncluttered will do!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


As I work on decluttering the girls' room, I ponder this question: Does one 5-year-old girl really need three jewelry boxes? The pink one and the white one are her favorites, the blue one is the one I favor. Does it count as decluttering if I let her keep her favorites and I move the blue one to my room? I bought the blue box at an antique shop and I really like it. I don't have any jewelry, really, but I could put spare change in it. Now perhaps you realize that, for me, decluttering is not going to be an easy process!