I’m In The Home Stretch!

I cannot believe I am almost done going through every category of “stuff” in our home. It’s exhilarating!  And making me more and more excited to finish.  Today, I will cover:

  • Laundry Supplies
  • Miscellaneous Bathroom Items
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Light Bulbs

I did most of this on the same afternoon.  I highly recommend going through these categories on a house-cleaning day, which I did!

Laundry supplies are self-explanatory and I don’t keep any laundry supplies anywhere but the laundry room.  And around late summer/early fall last year, Husband and I (with some help from my Dad!) tackled a laundry room makeover.  I painted and stenciled a wall (and a curtain to cover up the ugly water heater).  Husband and my Dad hung up a wall cabinet, shelves and some hooks for our ironing board.  Thus, laundry tidying was mostly complete, but I did find a few items in the cabinet that were no longer of use and chucked them.  In any case, here’s the laundry room after the remodel and tidying, and a peek inside the cabinet.  I LOOOOOOVE being in this room now, even to scoop kitty poo.

 

Initially, after tackling cosmetics and toiletries (and honestly, candles) I was all “What is even left that would fall under miscellaneous bathroom items?”  But I realized I wasn’t sure what was under the guest room sink.  And any other “bathroom decor” like decorative vases or trinkets would be part of this category, too.

THEN I spied the grossly old, exceedingly crusty toilet bowl cleaner brush, toilet bathroom new toilet brushplunger, and rusted-out shower caddy in our master bathroom.  It was pretty much a no-brainer to trash those things.  This is one case recently where I was THRILLED to go out and purchase non-crusty, non-10-year-old items for our bathroom.  I think the toilet is happier now.  I had no idea they made fancy-looking, nicely hidden toilet bowl brushes.  Thanks, HomeGoods!  🙂

Under the guest bathroom sink, there is nothing but a toilet bowl brush, extra toilet paper, and a basket of bathroom guesttoiletries for guests.  I moved/discarded a few trinkets in that bathroom as well. Hello, easier cleaning!

The downstairs powder room required no real work on this day.  (Although I did have a bottle of Febreeze under that sink that now lives under the kitchen sink with the rest of the cleaning supplies!)

 

 

Which of course brings me to: cleaning supplies.  I gathered all of those things in a pile.

We don’t have a “utility closet” so cleaning stuff was all over the house.  Under Husband’s sink in our bathroom, under the kitchen sink, in our linen closet, the guest bedroom closet, the laundry room, the downstairs coat closet….seriously everywhere.  I somehow had two bottles of Febreeze; one that smelled acceptable, and another that smelled gross and also looked like it came from the early 90’s.  How this came to be in my possession, I will never know.

I threw away two cleaning supplies organizedbottles of stuff that smelled disgusting and arranged the rest under the kitchen sink.  The only cleaners that are NOT pictured here are pet stain cleaners.  I did not include them in this session because my next category is Pet Supplies. Also, I have 3 bottles of pet stain cleaner and believe me when I say I need all 3. They live in the laundry room cabinet.

As for my vacuum/swiffer collection…previously, I kept each of these items in different places. But the cardinal rule of storage is to store similar things together because it’s easier to find what you’re looking for that way.  I’d like for each of these things to live in the downstairs coat closet, but the floor in there has become where Husband’s shoes live. I shoved everything in there, but it’s still a work in progress.

I threw light bulbs into this post because they don’t seem to fit in any other category of stuff in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” We had several lamps with bulbs out, so I finally replaced all of those.  We donated a couple packages of light bulbs that don’t fit things in our home.  The rest live in one box, on a high shelf in a kitchen cabinet.

And that’s it for this session!  I love the feeling of working hard then relaxing in a thoroughly cleaned house.  I am very thankful that I am able (both physically and time-wise) to spend an entire afternoon cleaning.  It’s so satisfying to welcome Husband home from work into a space that is well-kept and smells good.  Plus, I never want anyone to walk into our house and smell that we have 3 animals.  If you ever come over and smell animals, please tell me!  I promise I won’t be offended.  I’ll just clean more.  On that note, the next category on my list is: PET SUPPLIES!

Until then,

S

 

The Joy of Prancing Around The Kitchen!

Tidying up the kitchen was quite the project.  As with many categories of items in our home, I donated A LOT of kitchen stuff last year.  And still…a giant tub of stuff plus 3 smaller boxes full of stuff left the house when I was finished going through the kitchen this time.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!

While I will tackle the kitchen with this one post, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” divides kitchen items into sub-categories to make it a little less daunting.  I did not do this category in one day, but over 2-3 days.  Here is how KonMari categorizes:

  • Dishes, Glasses, Silverware, Place Mats (and other table decor)
  • Cooking and Baking Tools and Appliances
  • Plastic and Paper Plates & Silverware, Food Storage
  • Plastic Wrap, Foil, Bags, Paper Towels, etc
  • Food

For some reason, I caught the urge to go through the middle three categories one night after dinner.  And I did not take any “before” or “in progress” pictures.  Mostly because I did not put everything in a pile for each sub-category in the kitchen (only for some). Shame on me, I know. But not only did I go through ALL of this stuff early last year, I also completely re-organized my most frustrating cabinets and several cabinets/drawers that were demolished and re-built late last year due to water damage. AND we donated all our old tupperware and bought one new set several months ago. Here are the “after” shots of the middle three categories.

On another day, I took out all my dishes and silverware and place mats (I have no table decor….no tablecloths or runners or chargers or cloth napkins or napkin rings or anything of that nature).  Choosing discards was easy here.  I tidied first for joy, and secondarily for volume.  I got rid of things we weren’t using, things that didn’t bring joy, and things that we had way too much of.  Same thing with glasses and silverware-although we kept a LOT of glasses.  We are big wine lovers, and Husband has a lovely beer mug collection.  Plus, pretty glasses bring me JOY!  Below, “after” shots of these items.

Last but not least was food.  Again, last year I did the lion’s share of pantry organizing.  I bought a bunch of containers and threw out expired stuff and re-organized.  But (probably not surprisingly) I still managed to fill an entire trash bag with old/expired stuff and containers that I was able to empty and consolidate.  I thought I was proud of this last year, but now I REALLY love it.  Baking items live on the top shelf, then cooking stuff, then snacks/bread/vitamins, and on the bottom shelf, liquor, pet items, spices and teas.  On the floor we have paper towels and pet food.

kitchen pantry.JPG

This was A LOT of work when I think about how many times I went through everything. And I’ve already discarded a few more things since I took these photos. When I showed Husband my work, he pointed at an ice cream scoop and another utensil that looks just like an ice cream scoop (but it’s for putting batter into muffin tins). And that got me thinking more along minimalist lines as I looked at utensils again: Do I really need this?  Do I have something that is a suitable substitute?  In the case of the ice cream scoop, the answer was YES!  Into the donation pile it went.

Now, in ALL our upper cabinets, the top shelf, and in some cases, the top TWO shelves are empty.  There is NOTHING in the cabinets above our refrigerator.  One of the reasons this makes me so joyful is because I am short and I cannot reach top shelves (or second to top shelves) without standing on something or whining for Husband to come help.  The other is just that it’s really starting to feel like the gross excess is gone.

Freed up shelf space also has me re-thinking how much stuff I need to keep out on the counter. One of the goals here is to spend less time cleaning.  And the less stuff I have to move off of a surface, the easier it is to clean.  In fact, KonMari says that she spent YEARS researching and thinking about the optimal way to store things so that working in the kitchen is easy.  In the end, she discovered that the biggest factor in keeping a kitchen tidy is how easy it is to clean, not to use.  While it is of course beneficial to think about what things you use the most and choosing the right place to store each item, if the counter tops are cluttered, the kitchen will still look cluttered and be difficult to clean.

After I tidied in the kitchen, I was able to remove a few things off my counters but am kitchenconsidering moving more.  In any case, here is the kitchen as it looks today.

I really love to cook, and I am so thankful that we have a beautiful place where I can do that.  Thinking through storage and ease of cleaning only makes it that much more fun.  By keeping only what I need and use regularly, cabinets and drawers are less stuffed.  This means whatever I need is easily accessible.  The joy!

I know I will continue to make small tweaks and further hone my definition of minimalism and “enough” even after I have officially gone through all categories.  In fact, I am getting more and more excited to do that; I know I’d handle certain things differently now than I did when I first started.  When I look back at those first few categories, I’m starting to notice things I decided to keep that haven’t been used or touched since. There is more to be done, and it is so freeing to let go and keep letting go.

Next up: Cleaning & Laundry Supplies and Miscellaneous Bathroom Items

 

3 Reasons “Minimalism” Doesn’t Mean What You Think

You guys, I’m actually nearing the END of my tidying sessions.  Like-I’ve almost touched with my hands every single item in this house. Here’s what I have left, just for reference:

  • Kitchen Stuff (in progress!)
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Laundry Supplies
  • Miscellaneous Bathroom items
  • Pet Supplies
  • Musical Instruments/Accessories (Husband’s chore!)
  • AND VERY LAST BUT NOT AT ALL LEAST: Sentimental Items

As I think back to everything I’ve done so far and how many bags and boxes and piles of stuff have left this house, I feel accomplished.  I feel lighter.  I’ve had the time and space to rediscover and do things that I love to do (like writing!).  I’ve begun to hatch new plans for the future.

I’ve found myself not only choosing what sparks joy, but choosing to part with seldom used things that are taking up space, and honestly asking myself, “Do I need this?  Why do I have it?  Will it be of more use to someone other than me?”  I still think I’ve kept too much in some cases.  So I’ve been thinking: does this qualify me as a minimalist?  I’m starting to believe maybe it does.  And I’m learning that minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean (or look like) what one might think.

1. Minimalism is different for everyone.  Minimalism is going to look different in my life than yours.  I’ve written in previous posts that in several categories, what I’ve chosen to keep still feels like PLENTY rather than “just enough.”  Which is still shocking to me considering the amount of stuff that has left this house.   Maybe when I’m done, I will end up revisiting all of the categories or most of them or just a few of them.  I don’t know. But I think what I’m learning is that the “right amount” of things feels different to different people.  I know that it’s different to Husband than it is to me.

While the first step of this process is intentionally choosing to live with less things, it doesn’t mean that my home will have white, bare walls and three pieces of furniture.  I wholeheartedly believe that giving LOTS of things away changes people for the better.  But in many ways that part of things is a means to an end. What’s truly important about this journey is realizing a desire to turn away from the notion that we always must be climbing the proverbial stairs to “more”.  To learn that our possessions do not at all define us, and pursue a life that is uncluttered in every way.

2. Less stuff brings more contentment.  When you choose to live with less, you’re no longer focusing on needing more. Not too long ago, I was spending a lot time thinking about what I didn’t have.  It was a miserable way to live and now, I am ashamed to reflect on and admit my discontent.  A bigger house, a newer car, and a gazillion other “things” were on

godly heart desire
Photo: Destin, FL

my want list and while I was focused on those things, it was impossible to see what was right in front of me.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with dreams that live in your heart. One of mine is to live by the ocean. But I don’t NEED to live by the ocean in order to be exceedingly joyful and content in life. Problems arise when you’re so focused on what you WANT that you have little to no ability to enjoy the blessings already in your life.  While there will always be temptation to slip back into old ways of thinking, the new has taken hold in a powerful way.  This journey has completely changed me.  I am more aware of and grateful for what I have and what I am able to give away to others than ever before.  And I can honestly say I’ve never felt more content in life. Always remember that there is a HUGE difference between a Godly heart-desire for something and letting your desire for something turn into your god.

3. You’ll Re-Discover Joy In Things That Were Hidden.  As I continue to sort through and visit long-forgotten items stored away in closets, I typically think one of two things.  1: why on earth did I keep this?  or 2: I completely forgot I had this and I can’t wait to use it!  Countless times on this journey, I have re-discovered and started using things that I truly love or that bring me joy (like jewelry).  Once I’ve sorted through a category of things and displayed/stored them in such a way that I can easily see at a glance what I have, it becomes so easy.

This joy can manifest itself in less obvious ways, as well.  I now have a designated space in the office closet for empty storage containers.  I have loved discovering that containers I no longer need in one place often work perfectly in another. Our old plastic medicine drawer now houses Husband’s bike-related gadgets on his new workbench. The plastic drawers that once housed old and un-used office supplies perfectly fits my gift wrapping accessories.

In “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, Marie Kondo makes the brilliant suggestion to use items you kept that bring joy in creative ways around the house.  As the clutter clears, you’ll start to get ideas.  I store all my tubes of wrapping paper in the tall, flat box that my shoe cube organizer came in.  It’s the perfect size, but ugly as sin.  So, I’m planning to use fabric or wrapping paper I kept to cover the box and make it JOYFUL. Once you have the space to look for creative ways to enjoy ALL the things you love, you can’t help but revel in new joy-joy that has been living in your home all along.

I would encourage you to take some time to intentionally seek out joy in your life today.  If you’re looking hard enough for something, you will find it.  Be careful not to miss out on the joy of today by thinking about, talking about and seeking things that foster discontent. Be present in the here and now.  And be thankful, always.