Wednesday, October 31, 2012

6 easy 15 minute projects to declutter your home

With our big move coming up really soon, I've been on major de-cluttering spree. Even though we are moving into a much bigger space, I'm refusing to pack and take anything that we haven't been using or need. I love to organize, in fact I'd love to do it as a profession one day. So I thought I'd share a few easy things I do at least twice a year to keep our home relatively clutter and junk free.

1) Pick your room: When I'm about to embark on a massive home dejunking projects, I start with the smallest room/space on my list. It much less overwhelming and helps pump up my motivation. Closets are a personal favorite starting point of mine, because as I clean them out I see how much potential storage space I have and it helps me decide what could be better stored there. Once you've picked your room give yourself 15 minutes to tackle a portion of it. You might be able to get the whole room done in that amount of time, but in case you can't, start with one corner of the room and work your way around.

2) Clean out drawers: You'd be amazed how many drawers you can declutter in 15 minutes. Nightstands, junk drawers, desk drawers, dresser drawers etc often are largely filled with "garbage" or things you really have no attachment too. Desk/office drawers can be a little more time consuming if you store a lot of important paper work in them, so if you are really limited to only 15 minutes of decluttering time, pick up some manila folders ahead of time and file as many papers into the correct categories of your choosing  This will help you get a start on your organizing without the risk of throwing anything important away.

3) Carry a box/laundry basket around the room: Do a general sweep of the room and anything that fits in the box/laundry basket can be donated or thrown out. This will force you to make quick decisions and not get hung up on whether you need to keep an item. Repeat this over the course of a day or several days, till you've cleaned out as much as you'd like.

4) For children's rooms/toys focus on toys that encourage make-believe play. You can get by on far fewer toys if the ones you have are conducive to imaginative play. Kids can come up with endless scenarios around toys like dress-up clothes, cars, dolls, blocks, figurines, Play-Doh and art supplies. Weed out as many toys as you can that don't fit this criteria.When I clean out Rhett's room, I do it when he's not around or is distracted. Once I'm done, I show him a few toys I've selected to get rid off and let him chose 2 or 3 to keep. It's a good balance for him and I. If your children are older (my son is 2), have them help you go through their room. Be sensitive to what is important for them to hold on to, but by helping them decide what is really important to them teaches life lessons about priorities, responsibility, and wants vs. needs.

5) Go through all your books and magazines: We are avid readers in our family, so our book collection can get a little out of control. Please don't misinterpret me saying "clean out your books" as "don't have a great book collection in your home." I truly believe having books in the home is the foundation for learning and great family discussion and memories. What we find though, is that we hang onto books that we've already read and either didn't enjoy enough to read again, or that we've got so many books on our book list that we know we won't get to the old book for a long time.

Books take up a lot of space and if they are in boxes, under beds or stacked in piles where they aren't accessible, then chances are you won't get around to reading them.  When you go through your books, decide first how much shelf space you want to dedicate to them. Keep whatever fits in that space and donate the rest. We buy most of our books from thrift stores and we visit the library often, so even though we clean out our books regularly, we always have new ones coming in.

6) Attack a clothes closet or dresser: I am always amazed at how much clothing can fit into a closet or drawer. Clothing is so malleable that a lot can be shoved into tiny spaces. Attacking a closest is best done quickly and without emotional attachment. Styles change, our preferences shift,  and clothes get worn out. If your clothes are in good shape, but you're not wearing them, donate them and bless someones else life. I like to clean out my closet almost at the end of the season. I can see what I didn't wear and if I need to replace any staple pieces I'm in time for the sales. You really can clean out a whole closest in about 15 minutes if you leave emotional attachment out and focus on keeping staple pieces.

Additional tips:

When sorting divide your stuff into 4 piles.

1) Keep: Self explanatory. What you plan to hold onto.

2) Unsure: If you're on the fence about something, stick it into the unsure pile till the room or area is done. Limit the amount of items in the unsure pile to no more than 5 at any given time. If you've cleaned out enough space to justify keeping it, then hold on to it for awhile. If you still don't have room for it, ask yourself if your willing to sacrifice another item in the keep pile for it. If you're not, then put it in the donate pile. If you're really hung up on it, hold on to it for a few days or a week. Just make sure you do make a decision about the item so that it doesn't end up in clutter limbo.

3) Throwout: Some items are obviously destined for the garbage can. Others, like perhaps old t-shirts that technically are still in good condition, are harder to assign to the throwout or donate pile. My general rule of thumb is will this item actually bless someones life if I chose to donate it. For example, a gently worn sweater will benefit someone more than my high school cross country t-shirt.

4) Donate: Whatever is left that is in good working condition can be given new life by someone else. An important part of this pile is not to hold on to it for more than a week! Get that stuff out of your house! A pile of items you are donating, sitting in the corner, doesn't really equal your house being clutter free. Make it priority to get that stuff to your local thrift store.

Don't buy extra storage containers/supplies before you start organizing: I know this might seem counterintuitive, but here's my reason. Storage supplies can add up to be quite pricey. If you go ahead of time to buy them, you'll be buying items without knowing what exactly you need. Also, if you buy a lot of extra storage bins etc, you'll find you can justify keeping more than you need to, because now you have an extra place to keep it. Once you are done de-cluttering, decide what type of containers etc you need and buy those.

Be wary of selling: I've tried selling my unwanted items in the past, but my local consignment shop  wasn't buying and my Craigslist ads didn't generate any response. This resulted in wasted time and energy, plus I hung onto things I never got around to selling. Giving unwanted things away relieves stress and saves time. If it really is a big ticket item like exercise equipment  power tools etc, feel free to post to Craigslist etc, but give yourself a time limit on how long to keep the ad posted and be realistic with what you should be asking for it. Also, garage sales can be super time consuming and generate little revenue for the work that goes into setting one up. If you are doing a MASSIVE clean out (like a moving sale etc) then it might be more worth your while, but make sure you really consider what you want your end goal to be; a de-cluttered space or a small amount of cash in your pocket.

Lastly, ask yourself the following questions as you sort through your stuff.

Do I love it? Does the item fit into your vision of how you want your home to look? Is the item beautiful and does it fit your decor and personal style and taste? If not, get rid of it.

Do I need it? Really? Do I use it? Have I used it lately? Will I need it again soon? Don't keep something because you might use it someday. If you don't have the space for it, then let it go. Trust that you can get your hands on another one should the need arise in the future. My time frame is if I have or haven't used something in the past 6 months; I haven't used it or even remembered it was there, why would I need it in the next 6 months?

I hope this helps! 

A great time to clean out your home would be in the next few weeks before the holiday season starts. :)

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Friday, October 26, 2012

If you give a 2 year old a paint brush

If you give a 2 year old a paint brush, he'll probably ask you for some paint. 

When you give him some paint, (against your better parental judgement), he'll ask for a wall to paint. 

If you give him a wall to paint, (again, against your better parental judgement), he'll probably paint a moustache on himself.

I can't help but chuckle at this picture. He looks like a little Charlie Chaplin. :)

PS. We were just getting sample colors on the wall before the painters came this morning, so we're weren't overly concerned with Rhett's painting "skills".

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Little Mister or Tiny Miss?

We are SO thrilled and excited to be welcoming another little BOY to our family in March!

His little feet. I'm a sucker for baby feet. :)

Honestly, until about a week ago I was sure it was a little lady, but then I just got a gut feeling it was a boy. 

I am so happy. :) 

20 weeks
And a little nervous about being a mom to two energetic little fellas. 

Who insist on being in every picture. :)

Time to start a list of possible names!

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Pictures and plans for the house

We spent the weekend at the house, getting estimates on flooring and painting, starting a little demo and starting to feel a little overwhelmed with our (hopeful) 3 weeks till move in date.

There's actually not a ton that we need or want to get done before we move in.

The biggest items on the to-do list are replacing all the flooring and repainting most of the house.

For the sake of our budget and keeping our costs as low as possible, we'll be doing most of the work ourselves including installing new tile in the kitchen, downstairs bathroom and laundry room, laying hardwood in the front room, and painting what we can. 

We do plan on hiring out for laying the new carpet and painting some of the rooms with really high walls etc.

Here are some stats for the house before we get to the grand tour.

2500 sq feet
(It's 1600 sq feet bigger than our current apartment. Crazy.)

4 bedroom

2 1/2 bath

Built in 2005

So you want to see the house? 

Again, the front.

When you walk in you'll enter the foyer/formal living/dining room. 

Plans for this room:

Hardwood floors

Un-texturing the walls (hopefully)

New paint

Removing the old nasty lighting

Adding some awesome molding/wainscoting etc

My vision is clean, bright, airy with a New York brownstone vibe. 

Something like this, this and this.

And then we head into the kitchen.

We're really lucky because the previous owner did a lot of upgrades with the cabinets and granite counter tops so there's not a lot to do here. 

Plans for this room:

New floors 

New paint

New lighting

And maybe one in a couple of years, replacing the sliding glass doors to french ones.

I'm thinking an warm, slightly industrial look.

One of my favorite parts about the kitchen is the addition of the bulter's pantry. (I think that's what it's called...) 

It separates the first living area and the kitchen and offers a lot of extra storage and prep area.

Right next to the kitchen is the main living room. 

I LOVE this room because of it's super high ceilings (20 ft) and all the natural light.

Plans for this room include:

New carpet

Smoothing the walls

New paint

and some built ins on the wall above. 

I'm planing on carrying the look of the front room into this one with clean lines and some detailed molding etc.

Here's the downstairs bathroom. 

With the exception of the floor it will stay about the same for now. 

We'll probably paint it and look for a new mirror or  lighting, but we're in no rush.

Across from the downstairs bathroom is the hall to the laundry room and garage and the stairs leading upstairs. 

All  4 of the bedrooms are around the balcony.

One day, we'd love to replace the balcony wall with an actual open/spoken banister (like this), but that will have to wait. For a long time. 

The second up stairs bathroom. 

Bedroom #1 

This will be the playroom.

Bedroom #2

Rhett's room

Bedroom #3 

The babies room

(It's already painted pink....maybe it's a sign :))

The foyer leading to the master.

The master. 

It has 2 separate walk-in closets which is fantastic.

And the master bath.

 The upstairs, including the stairs, foyer and bedrooms will all be getting new carpet and we're debating on putting hardwood on in the master. 

I've got some plans/ideas for the kids rooms and those are our first priority with the upstairs.

The upstairs bathrooms and master bedroom will probably stay the same for awhile till we finish the bigger projects and rebudget for all of it.

I forgot to get pictures of the backyard, but to be honest it's just dirt right now. 

Welcome to Arizona. :)

We're actually OK with that because we have a great covered porch and it offers us a blank slate to work with over the years.  We'll be laying winter grass in the next two or three months so we at least have a lawn for Rhett and this baby. 

If you remember my post on our wish list as we started our house hunt we definitely got most of what we insisted on and what we hoped for, which is awesome. 

And now we get to make this house or home. :)

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Signed, sealed, delivered: The house is officially OURS!

We signed the paper work, wrote a big fat check and got the keys. 

The house is OURS! 

And this is a picture of us after we signed our first apartment contract when we got married. 

4 years, 1 and 1/2 children, and a move to a Arizona later we're so excited to be in our first home!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We bought a house

It's a miracle. 

We bought a HOUSE! 

And yes this the house we originally loved, made an offer on, were told it was going into foreclosure and that our offer was rejected, and then were given another chance to buy it. 

Confused yet?

Here's how it all worked out. 

After our offer was rejected we resumed our house hunt.

We couldn't find anything. 

About 3 weeks after our first offer was rejected, the bank called our realtor and explained a huge mistake had been made on their end. 

The house was not supposed to be in foreclosure and if we wanted to resubmit our offer, we would have another chance to buy it. 

So we did. 

And last Saturday we found out we got it.


We are SO happy. :)

In total we've looked at close to 3 dozen homes and none of them felt right or met our criteria. 

Except for this one. 

Even when we thought it had slipped through our fingers, we still couldn't help but talk about and compare everything else we saw to it. 

If you've house hunted before and found a home you love, maybe you'll understand what I mean when I say that when we walked into this house for the first time, we just KNEW it was meant for us. 

We knew logically, emotionally, mentally, just felt like home. 

And on Friday when we sign all the paper work it will be ours. :)

We feel so grateful to be blessed with the opportunity given to us again to buy it. 

We feel so grateful for our families and friends and their advice and wisdom and support in this process. 

We just feel so grateful. 

PS. More pictures coming soon. :)

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The birds and the bees according to a 2 year old

A conversation from our breakfast table. 

Me: Rhett, Mommy has a baby in her belly.

Rhett: O-tay.

Me: Do you think it's a girl baby, or a boy baby?

Rhett: Ummmm.......

(Gets a real serious look on his face.)

Rhett: No, it's a doggie. 

Me: A doggie? 

Rhett: Yeah, CUTE doggie!

Hopefully he's not to disappointed in March. :)

PS: We find out what we're are having on Oct 23.

PPS: I promise I will post a bump pic soon!

I really don't show till around 20 weeks and I'm 17 right now; so as of right now there's not much to show.

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