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.

~Erin

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?

~Erin

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.

Houseguests:

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.

Food:

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.

Travel:

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!

Self Care for September Wrap Up

This month has been about evaluating what you need and making sure to take care of yourself. We are just finishing up our Self Care for September challenges. If you signed up for the newsletter, you have been following along with our daily and weekly challenges to help you develop and maintain a Self Care Routine. Here are my confessions and realizations for the month:

-I have been drinking tea, scheduling lunch dates with friends, and exercising more.

-For the day that the challenge was ‘have a healthy dinner’, I had cheetos and pizza. Does that count?

-I have been practicing saying ‘no’. I tend to overschedule myself, so this had been a valuable lesson for me.

-I have NOT been very good at getting to bed at an early hour or turning off the technology.

In our wrap up newsletter, we challenged everyone to choose 5 self care items that they could continue with or work on. Here are mine:

1) Keeping a morning routine.

2) Creating a technology free zone.

3) Take an afternoon break.

4) Get rid of toxic and negative things in my life.

5) Don’t procrastinate on small tasks.

I plan on applying my self care techniques to my organizing in the following ways:

-Take small steps with big projects so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

-Focus on one thing at a time.

-Allow myself breaks to rejuvenate during an organizing project.

-Don’t be too hard on myself. If my clothes aren’t perfectly color coded at all times, it probably won’t signal the end of the world.

Look for many more organizing projects in October.  I’ll be finishing up our guest room and also organizing a Halloween party. I love this time of year!

~Erin

 

A repurposed bookend project

I was visiting family and friends in Phoenix last week and was helping my mom organize a few things. She showed me a book case she’s been working on and she had come with the most creative idea! She took part of a mantle and turned it into a bookend! Let me backtrack….

When I was little I used to do the Richard Simmons Sweatin to the Oldies workout videos with my friends. Don’t ask me why…..I have no idea and I thought I would never tell anyone that. Anyways, the only picture I had of the original mantle was of me doing the Richard Simmons’ video. I conveniently cropped myself out of the photo (though I know you desperately wanted to see me in my shirt with a giant Yorkie on it. Don’t ask me about that either……)

Here’s what the mantle used to look like:Recent040

Once the mantle came down, there were several supporting pieces that could have been destined for the trash.

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However, my mom decided to use one as a shabby chic bookend!

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How cute and clever! This fix not only kept something out of a landfill, but also created a super original and functional piece of decor.

~Erin

Neaten Your Nest in the news – Back to School Organizing

You’ll have to excuse my lack of blog posts lately. I’ve been focusing on the ‘in-person’ portion of the business lately. Last Saturday I attended a Women’s Business Expo to do a little promotion and networking.

expo

Then this morning, I did another segment on Fox News morning show in Colorado Springs! This time I discussed back to school organizing. I feel I have to mention that I had no idea what camera was actually turned on, so just graciously ignore the fact that I’m smiling at someone standing slightly to your left. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all!

I tried to give some tips that were practical for back to school, but that didn’t just focus on school supplies and backpacks. I discussed snacks, preparing outfits, and homework stations. I hope a few of these are helpful!

~Erin

 

 

 

Container Store Inspiration

I just got my most recent Container Store catalog in the mail. I thought I would share with you just a few of the glorious organizing items I’m coveting!

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I love these little scarf hangers that are available in fun, bright colors. Scarves, yes! But what other great ways could these be used? Holding jump ropes maybe? Or necklaces? Ties? Bungee cords in a utility closet? They seem like a great, versatile and reasonably priced product to me!

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The Container Store has an assortment of these Linus cabinet organizers. They have ones that are perfectly sized for a ‘coffee station’ with stirrers, creamers, etc. The one pictured above is holding seasoning packets. I can see them being used for kid’s snacks in either the pantry or fridge. They would work great for separating craft supplies or bathroom items. Or even in the laundry room to hold dryer sheets, a bowl for change or other small items.

Container Store Elfa Garage System

Container Store Elfa Garage System

Can my garage please look like this, please?????  My husband would love this.

container 3These little drawers can be mounted under a sink in the bathroom to create sturdy pull out drawers in small spaces.

container 5I think I will definitely be buying one of these saran wrap/ plastic bag holders next time I go to the Container Store. It’s such a great idea to keep all of these items organized and it is free stannding so you don’t need any hardware.

Container 6This gift wrapping cart is great for so many reasons! Ribbon holders, slide out drawers, caster wheels and a place to hold the rolls of wrapping paper.

container 7I absolutely love this 80 pocket accessories organizer. The top part buttons so that you can put a hanger inside it and hang on a hook or you can button the whole thing right to a closet rod. Perfect for earrings and bracelets!

You can find similar items at other stores, but I love the Container Store for inspiration. It just makes me want to re-organize everything all at once!

~Erin

 

It’s Neaten Your Nest’s One Year Anniversary

Exactly one year ago, I wrote my very first post for the Neaten Your Nest blog. I had no idea where the blog would take me or any of the career opportunities I had dreamed up in my head. As I sit here today, I still have no idea where Neaten Your Nest will take my life, but I do know that I’m loving the experience, the challenges, the learning and the adventure I’m getting out of blogging and setting up a business.

Here are few things I have truly loved about this process:

1) I have gotten to ‘meet’ so many amazing people through the blogging world. Though the amount of information is overwhelming, the bloggers I’ve been able to connect with have inspired me in ways too many to count! I have learned about patience, motivation, creativity, creating the life you want, connecting with your family, amazing recipes and inspiring stories. Check out my blogroll page for just a very few of my favorites!

2) I have learned sooooo much about organizing. The wealth of information available has helped me think outside the box when it comes to organizing. I have found great products, clever tips, and beautiful inspiration.

3) I am absolutely enthralled with Pinterest! It has been a great resource for blog ideas, inspiration for my life and it helps me keep some of my many thoughts and projects organized. You can find me on Pinterest here.

4) The blog has kept me motivated to pursue a dream and, in some ways, it also holds me accountable for following through. Just having an audience helps spur me to action every day.

Here are some things that have been not so glorious in the journey:

1) Writer’s block….There are days when I will just stare at my computer, the words ‘New Post’ taunting me as I try to formulate even one sentence that pertains to my topic.

2) Comparison to others. Since there are so many great blogs and websites out there, I am constantly questioning if what I am doing is good enough, do my posts make sense to the reader, have I interjected just enough humor to make people smile a little, do my pictures look ok (this is my biggest struggle!)? It is a hard lesson to learn that comparisons only defeat you and your purpose.

3) Technology!!! I have gotten a fleeting grasp on a few aspects, but I still have a long way to go. HTML code what? I would love to feel like I have mastered a technological skill set, whether it’s web design, Pinterest, photo manipulation, or anything really. But with the constant upgrades and additions to everything technology related, it’s hard to keep up!

The good thing about the bad things is that I am not alone. The more I talk to people, the more I realize that everyone struggles in some areas, no one is perfect and we can all be amazing in our own ways.

Here are a few of my favorite and most popular posts from the last year:

So what does the future hold for Neaten Your Nest???

~Better photographs to showcase organizational processes, products and more.

~An increased focus on ‘green’ topics. Look for new info under the Green Nest page!

~A focus on organizing the business side of NYN. Look for posts on the business of blogging, files, marketing, etc.

~Features from other bloggers who have expertise in areas where I am lacking!

~Additional Pages and Features here on the site, such as the upcoming ‘Mindful Nest’ series, where we talk about the mental, emotional and other health related benefits to being organized. I will also be working on the ‘Nest Egg’ series, where I talk about financial organization.

If you have been a reader of Neaten Your Nest over the past year, thank you so much for all you do. Your readership makes this whole process worthwhile. If I can help someone or inspire a bit of organizational creativity in this hectic life, then I am doing my job. If you are new to Neaten Your Nest, Welcome! I look forward to sharing many more ideas and stories with you for years to come. Thanks!

~Erin

Saving my sanity – cleaning schedule

We try to keep up with the cleaning at our house. But with full time jobs, kids, dogs, and activities, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of. Even if things get done, its hard to remember when they were done last, especially when it comes to tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly or twice a year. So I finally made up a cleaning schedule for our house. Here are the basics:

A couple notes on this cleaning schedule:

-I did not include daily cleaning tasks. I figure that if I can’t remember what I cleaned that particular day, then I’m really in trouble.

-The list I made will not ultimately be the final product. I left a little room so that as I think of things that I forgot (I’m sure there will be many), I have room to add a few. I already realized that I left ‘clean windows’ off, so I’ll have to make an adjustment.

– I created a little section for general ‘To Do’ items. I have a calendar that we write events, appointments, etc on, but sometimes I just need a little place to jot down something I don’t want to forget to do.

On to the next step! I couldn’t just tape this to my fridge and be done with it because then I would have to print a new one every week. So I decided to make it into a dry erase cleaning list.

A couple weeks ago, I found an 8″ x 10″ picture frame at a garage sale for 50 cents. Score! I painted the frame with some leftover paint I had and let it dry.

I’m not known for my vibrant color palette, so I went with a neutral gray that I recently painted my pantry with.

Then I just popped the cleaning list behind the glass:

Ta da! A dry erase cleaning list. Now I can write the dates/ months on the list and check off tasks. When the week, month, quarter or year changes, I can just wipe off the marker and start fresh. I even have a little notes field. Here is an example of the board in use:

I only had one dry erase marker in my whole house, so my plan is to go find a couple different colors and maybe one with a finer point, but you get the idea!

I also added some magnetic strips to the back of this so I could hang it on my fridge. Now I have a clear schedule for everyone to reference, and it’s in a convenient place. The other bonus is that since I had all of the other materials, I only invested 50 cents in this project. Yea!

Happy Cleaning!

~Erin