Closet Cleanout – at it again!

Do you know what I like about cleaning out my closet? Practically nothing. However, I happen to love the results, so I make myself re-evaluate my wardrobe ever few months. I’ve been pretty diligent over the last year about getting rid of clothes I don’t wear anymore. I think I had cut the amount of items down by more than 1/3. Here were a couple of my methods:

-I had done the ‘hanger trick’ and turned all of my hangers around. If a hanger was still turned around at the end of the season, that meant I hadn’t worn the item and I had to get rid of it.

-I had tried every single item on and asked myself “Would I buy this again right now?” If the answer was no, away it went!

-I realized that there were a few things that I had been hanging onto that I loved but had a stubborn stain or irreparable tear. I made myself weed these items out because, though I may have loved them, I would always notice the ‘problem area.’

These methods got me pretty far in my purging. Yet I still felt there was more I could do. I had found the website of a very popular Japanese professional organizer named Marie Kondo who has an intriguing way of looking at possessions and of paring them down. She is insanely popular in Japan and elsewhere in the world. While some of her methods might seem overly strict, there is a great basis to the way she works. She asks you to evaluate every single item with the question “Does this spark joy?”  The theory is that everything has the potential to bring you joy….or not. When you honestly ask if an item brings you joy, often the answer is no. Why do we hold on to so many things that don’t bring joy into our lives?

I decided to go through my clothes again using this method. Even though I thought I had gotten rid of the things I didn’t like, when I asked if each thing sparked joy, I realized a lot of things brought me nothing positive at all. I was able to get rid of 50 more items from my wardrobe. 50!

I also realized that my drawers were out of control and needed to be re-organized. For several years, I have rolled the clothes in my drawers because it makes it easier to see more of them. But if you still have too many clothes, they tend to pile up. I knew I needed to go from this:

Konmari and Clothes 1To this:

Konmari and Clothes 2And in the drawers, they look even better:

Konmari and Clothes 3I plan on using this method to clean out my clothes a couple of times a year. Then I’ll know that everything I wear brings a little joy to my life.


Party Leftovers…what next.

A couple weekends ago we had a birthday party for our oldest son. We had a lot of people on the guest list. While a lot showed up, a crazy late spring snowstorm kept a lot of people home. This meant sooooo much leftover food. The theme was ‘Italian’ and all of the kiddos were making their own pizza so we had a ton of crusts, pizza sauce, and toppings left, as well as Italian bread, pre-cooked pizza that the adults had, meatballs and fruit.  I was determined not to let all of this food (and the money I spent on it) go to waste. Here’s what I did with it all:

We ate most of the meatballs and Italian bread (I’ll never say no to bread with olive oil/ vinegar). We also froze the Boboli pizza crusts and some of the cooked pizzas.

Food 3

But then I had to get creative.

The fruit was easy. It was great for snacks and I also added a bunch to smoothies over a few days.

Food 1

We had a bunch of sausage and cheese that had been prepped for pizza toppings. I decided to make a couple of egg casseroles. Though my normal recipe calls for cheddar cheese, I did a 1/2 cheddar and 1/2 mozzarella mix and it was great. I also normally use bread slices, but this time I used some of the cubed Italian bread. One of the casseroles was eaten right away and I froze the other one.

Food 5

I had so many veggies cut up for toppings and I was struggling to be creative with them. I came up with shrimp stir fry (with shrimp I already had on hand) and chicken and rice soup.

Food 4 Food 2I was able to use up almost every leftover from the party. This made meals for us for the following week, stocked our freezer and I hardly threw anything out. Such a relief!

How do you use leftovers creatively?



Upcycling for Organization in the News

This week I did a short guest spot on Fox 21 News in Colorado Springs. I gave a few suggestions on how to upcycle items in your home for organizational purposes. From trash to treasure to upcycling old dishes, there’s a variety of tips for everyone. Click on the photo below to see the segment.

Fox News - 2015 April

And if you want more in depth ideas on the upcycled drawer, see my previous post!


Happy Upcycling!


One Old Drawer – Many New Uses

Tomorrow I am doing a short news segment on Fox 21 News in Colorado Springs about Upcycling for Organization. If you miss it or aren’t in the area, I’ll post the link shortly!

I’ll have some fun and easy tips but I wanted to give a preview of one of my upcycling projects. Old drawers are one of my favorite things to upcycle. They have so many uses, there are so many different sizes available and you can find them cheap, cheap, cheap if you don’t already have some on hand. I want to show you a few ways you can use a smaller size drawer for storage and organization.

First, find a drawer…maybe like this one:

DSC_0190Then, dress it up a little. I used some blue paint and distressed it a bit with some stain. I added a knob on the front and some painted feet to elevate it a little.

DSC_0220I wanted to see how many uses I could find for this little gem. I went from room to room and looked for creative storage inspiration and I was amazed at all of the ways it could fit in.

It’s a great way to leave out guest towels or other guest accessories. DSC_0241

Or display some extra magazines.


It would also make a great counter-top fruit and veggie holder.

DSC_0261It adds a personal touch to the closet where you can store scarves or a variety of other accessories.


In the kid’s room, you could use it for books or other toys. Or what about changing table storage?

DSC_0329DSC_0378Set it on a window ledge to hold small plants or herbs.


Or how great would this look as part of a bar set up?


You could pair it with another drawer and it would be a great self-serve area at a brunch or party.

DSC_0291I’m sure there are a million more uses, these are just my first thoughts. What else would you do with this?



The Green Sweater and the Art of Letting Go

I have been slowly going through all of the clothes in my closet. I did a big purge about 6 months back, but now I am making sure I wear everything that is left. I wanted to give myself this challenge because sometimes I get too comfortable with my favorite shirts and jeans and I don’t wear other things, even though I know I love them. As I wear things that are ‘new’ again, I find myself inspired or facing the day with a little more confidence. I am also finding things that are, well, not so good. Case in point…..

There is a green striped sweater that has been haunting me for a couple of years. It was cute, super soft and a little different. But I knew it wasn’t really me. Every few years, I will buy something that has a traditional ‘preppy’ look because I like it. What I never seem to remember is that I always end up giving those clothes away because I don’t feel like me when I wear them. Well this green sweater was one of those ill-conceived purchases. It stared at me, daring me to put on a visor, a pleated skirt and grab my tennis racket and flounce out the door. That clearly never happened. I just can’t pull off that look. So I decided to try the sweater with a cute tank top and a pair of jeans. I was going to Pull It Off! I asked my husband what he thought of the outfit before I left the house. I said “Babe, what do you think of this sweater?” He burst out laughing and said “It’s cute if you were 5.” Hmmm.

Somewhere deep down, I was completely expecting this reaction, because this is the reaction I vaguely had as I looked in the mirror. But getting someone else’s opinion helped me to come to terms with my own opinion. If I had truly loved that sweater, I would have worn it no matter how someone else reacted. But I didn’t love it, still don’t, never will. And coming to terms with that let me change into a better shirt and toss that sweater straight into the donate box.

I have realized that it’s ok to ask for help or opinions. Just be prepared that you might not always get the reaction you were hoping for. Look at other’s opinions as a way to gauge your own feelings. Look at them as inspiration, as advice, as a non-emotional view. You don’t have to follow every piece of advice that people give you, but others can often give you valuable insight that you might be missing through the clouds of your own emotions. An unattached, unbiased, unemotional look at something can help release you from unhealthy attachments. Like a green sweater.

So try to look at your situations from the outside. What is best for you? What is holding you back? What can you let go of?



Purge….No More Excuses!

So many people struggle with purging items from their home. There are a lot of reasons why it’s difficult….from “I might use this some day” to “my Great Aunt So-and-So gave me this” to  “I don’t know what to do with this or how to get rid of it.” Now is the time for No More Excuses Purging. We’re going to face some of the difficulties of getting rid of stuff and figure out how to solve those pesky purging problems.

Excuse #1 – I might use this some day.

Yeah, well you might. But if you haven’t used it in the last year, especially if you haven’t used it for longer, chances are you won’t use it. Here’s how to make this one easier for yourself. Put items you don’t use in a ‘test box’. Let them sit in the box for 6 months. If you haven’t gotten those things out (or maybe you don’t even remember what is in there after that length of time!), then you can officially let those items go.

People also don’t want to get rid of typically useful items, such as pens or cups. However, if you sort your items so that you can see any duplicates you have, it may be easier to part with some of them. If you have 40 cups or 100 pens, you can definitely handle getting rid of a few. So sort like with like and see how many of each type of item you actually have.

I know from personal experience that people will also hold on to items that represent a version of themselves that they would like to be. If you are holding on to that old hockey stick or food processor or weight machine and hoping you will wake up with the motivation to use them, you are really putting a lot of pressure on yourself. If it’s something you won’t actually pursue or is causing more negative feelings than positive ones, it may be time to let go.  I KNOW this is hard (I’m talking to you juggling pins and banjo patiently waiting in my office), but I also know that the freedom that comes with letting go can create such a sense of motivation in other areas. Now you can focus on the things you are actually going to do!

Excuse #2 – I got this as a gift and I would feel guilty letting it go.

Most people don’t give gifts so that you feel guilty about having to keep them. If it’s something you are not using or displaying or it’s something that you don’t like, get rid of it. Alleviate some of the guilt by donating it or giving it to a friend who wants it. The freedom of letting go of something you no longer want is much more positive than the mental weight it puts on you if you keep it.

Excuse #3 – It has sentimental value.

Many people hold on to things because they remind them of a special person, time or place. Certain mementos can be great as decorative pieces and help to personalize a space. However, it is not always a good idea to hold on to something just for the sake of nostalgia.

I recently got rid of a stack of concert tickets I was sure I would put into an album some day, a bunch of photos of events I hardly remember going to, and clothes I wore back in my college days. Do I miss them? Not even a little bit. I realized that the memories I have are more important than the physical item. And if I don’t remember something that well or with any fondness, that’s all the more reason to let the items go.

This excuse can be hard to combat when the items are family heirlooms. Some ways to deal with this are to take photos of the items. These are much easier to store and you can still have a visual reminder. You can also see if any other family members would like any of the items. You could choose to sell or donate things so that they are given a new life instead of collecting dust in an attic.

You can also choose to actually put these items to use. Decorate a kitchen shelf with antique cookware, put postcards or costume jewelry in a shadow box on the wall. Lay a family quilt on the end of your bed. While this isn’t technically a purge, it creates a positive impact. If you actually work these items into your decor, you will appreciate them more and they will serve a purpose.

Excuse #4 - I don’t know how to get rid of this item or where to take it.

There are a surprising number of things that can be difficult to get rid of, particularly if they don’t work. The most common ‘hard to get rid of’ items are appliances, bicycles, electronics and hazardous materials.

There are a ton of organizations dedicated to collecting unused items…from the well known Salvation Army and Good Will to the thousands of more focused organizations who may collect books, clothing, old cars or any of hundreds of other types of items. Check out my Donate and Recycle Page for a few ideas or do a local search in your area.

Many organizations will offer pick up for items and may even take things that don’t work, such as cars. In return, you can use the donation as a tax write off. Craigslist and Freecycle are website options where you can post your items.

If the item simply doesn’t work, look for organizations who collect scrap metal, porcelain or other hard to get rid of materials. Check if there is a hazardous waste disposal site in your area. These will often take things like paint, insecticides, batteries, old electronics or other items you want to get rid of but don’t want to throw in the trash.

Get creative. Donate old instruments to local schools, books to local libraries, cut up torn clothes to use as rags…there is usually a way to breathe new life into something through donation or repurposing.

What excuses are you using to hold on to stuff you don’t need? What is holding you back? And wouldn’t making the decision to purge unwanted items open up a lot more time and energy in your life?







News Spot – Simplify those Resolutions

We are a month into the new year and this is the time when a lot of people start to slip when it comes to their New Year’s Resolutions. There are a few weeks of momentum and then ‘Bam!’, real life starts to set back in. The holidays are over, the kids are back in school, and the hum-drum of daily life often gets the best of us. That motivation which spurred us into action on January 1st starts to wane when we realize how busy life is and how hard it can be to fit a big lifestyle change into the mix.

I did a short segment on Fox 21 news in Colorado Springs about a week ago to offer a few tips for keeping those resolutions. See the clip HERE or click on the photo below:

Fox News - 1-20-15

What do you think? Are there are other tips you have for keeping those New Year’s Resolutions both simple and attainable?


Simplify Your Nest

My theme for this year is ‘Simplicity.’ I have decided that every area of my life needs some level of simplification and I’m getting excited to share with you how I’m doing it!

With everything I do this year, I’m going to ask myself the following question:

“Is this simplifying my life or is it making it more complicated?”

Now the answer to this won’t always be cut and dry. For example, I want to cook more healthy and natural meals for my family. This will actually take more work in the beginning so it seems like it would be more complicated. However, when I’m cooking healthy meals, I feel better, I am in better control of what we are eating, I pay more attention to the food in my kitchen, I know what ingredients I have on hand and can start cooking healthy meals in bulk. So, in reality, this change will simplify my life quite a bit in the long run. And that’s what I’m looking at here….the long run.

I’m also going to PURGE!!! I want to rid my house of items that feel like clutter, that are unused and never looked at, that we have outgrown or are broken, and that just don’t fit our lifestyle.

I also plan to simplify my mind….stick with me here, I don’t mean I’m going to learn less or stop actively engaging. I mean I’m going to focus on worrying less, comparing less, making fewer lists, and relaxing more. I think it’s wonderful to actively engage your mind and seek out new experiences. I also think that our culture has the tendency to overwhelm ourselves with overstimulating technology and comparison and self doubt and worrying and so many other negative things. I’m going to clear my mind a little this year so I actually have time to focus on the good things.

I’m going to be GRATEFUL! Focusing on what we have is one of the most effective ways to be satisfied. The explosion of good emotions that come with gratitude can result in us actually wanting less stuff.

This post is going to start a Simplicity Series and I plan to share practical tips as well as focus on the root cause of disorganization and unease in our lives.

I’m ready to SIMPLIFY in 2015! Are you with me?


Oh the Holidays!

The holidays are here!  While some of us are giddy with excitement, others are gritting their teeth and hoping they can get through the stress. I recently did a guest spot on Fox News Colorado Springs and I wanted to share the link with you all!

I have listed a few of the tips below and added a few others.


Just the word itself makes some of us cringe. But houseguests don’t have to mean stress. Helping your guests help themselves is the biggest stress reliever in this area. Leave out extra towels and toiletries so they don’t have to ask you for them. Show them around the kitchen and pantry. And if you have work or other commitments while they are visiting, make sure they know your schedule. It also helps to have a few things for them to do. Get a few movies, make a list of local attractions, or tell them where the good restaurants are. Most guests are happy to entertain themselves for a while if they know where to go.


If you are cooking large meals for the holidays, a little planning goes a long way. A few weeks out from your holiday meal, develop your menu so you can see everything you need. Anticipate the number of serving dishes you will need and if you need to buy or borrow anything, do this well ahead of time. Two weeks before the cooking day, buy all of the dry goods and non-perishables. This not only gets some of the shopping done, but it spreads out the spending so you don’t get hit with one giant grocery bill. The perishable items can be bought the week of the holiday. If your dinner guests are local, consider a potluck to cut down on the cooking and cleaning you will have to do. If you think you might be sending leftovers home, buy a few inexpensive Tupperware pieces or aluminum dishes to fill so that guests don’t have to worry about returning your dishes.

Gift Giving:

Holiday shopping can be fun, but when you have too much on your list, it can be expensive and time consuming. Consider doing a Secret Santa with extended family so that everyone has to buy only one gift for the group. This cuts down on spending, but has the added advantage of making sure everyone gets a truly special gift because everyone has more time and energy for the one present they have to buy. If you have a group of friends, forgo gift giving and instead, go out to dinner together or do another fun activity. Create ‘wishlists’ on Amazon or another internet site. These can be emailed to friends and family and it’s easy to create multiple lists for different family members. This is a great method for letting out-of-town relatives know what the kids would like. If you order gifts online, look for free shipping offers or coupons.


If you are traveling during the holidays, make sure to allow plenty of time for any delays you may come across. If you are driving somewhere, pack plenty of snacks and activities to cut down on the stops you have to make. If you are flying, bring entertainment for the plane and make sure to take advantage of the outlets at the airport to charge any mobile devices you might use on the plane. If you are boarding animals while you are away, book early and prepare their vet records and necessities now. Since travel is so much more expensive during the holidays, find creative ways to cut down on costs. Look for restaurants with ‘kids eat free’ nights while you’re on the road. Book hotels that offer free breakfasts. Some airlines offer a discounted checked bag fee if you pay for baggage online at check-in.

With a little planning, you can focus less time on running around and more time on enjoying the holidays!