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Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's Begin Our Decluttering Plan! No better time to start!

“Order is Heaven’s first law.” 
Alexander Pope

I sit here this morning, several days before the beginning of a new year, with great anticipation for 2012! For some reason, deep inside, I have a feeling it is going to be something special. It has been years since I have made " resolutions", for I never seemed to obtain them when I did. This year, though, there are several things that I want to do, so I am making a 2012 "bucket list".  The most exciting things on my list are to grow my organizing business,  raise baby chicks in the spring and to learn how to crochet. These things aren't just going to miraculously happen, so I am beginning to take a few deliberate steps. 

Is becoming more organized and less cluttered one of your goals for the new year like it is for so many others? Studies show, and this is obvious by all of the magazine covers at the grocery store, that most Americans long for a more organized environment in which to live, work and play. Has it been one of yours for many years? What has kept you from obtaining it? There are lots of random reasons that I have heard over time and here are just a few...
There aren't enough hours in the day
I don't have enough space
I don't have enough money
I don't know where to start so I just don't
I could sit and write a rebuttal for all of these but why should I? Sometimes I feel the same way..but at the end of the day, I know what it does to my insides to have things orderly and have drawers cleaned out, filing cabinets orderly, all things in their places and the excess gone...all you have to do is live that way briefly and it will change your world. I am not kidding. There is something that happens inside when things on the outside are uncluttered. You see, I was not just born with the uncluttered gene. It was forced onto me by downsizing to a small home years ago...and I thank God for that..otherwise, my currently larger home would be busting at the seams with a bunch of stuff that I do not need or want. You do not have to downsize to get there just need to make the choice to make the change...little by little, with no excuses. And if the queen of "I can keep that and make something out of it" (me) can do it, SO CAN YOU!!
Let me give you some nuggets to start your wheels turning before the new year...I am reading a book right now that my dear friend Susan gave me called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, and in short, she is on a year long mission to find more "happy" in her life. She tackles a different area of her life each month..amazing, isn't it, that the first thing she goes for is her "stuff and clutter". She says that she "craved a existence of order and serenity". Does that speak to you like it does to me? go figure that I LOVED this chapter. Here are the "kinds" of clutter that she talks about in her book. Think through these one by one, and can I suggest that you even write them down on index cards of a sheet of paper to refer to when you are doing your clutter clean up in the weeks to come? I am..and over the next month, together, we will use these categories as we get rid of our unnecessary "stuff". 
Nostalgic clutter- things you hang on to from your earlier life that do nothing for you now..(5 million sorority tee shirts)
Conservation clutter- things that in their own right are useful, but completely useless to you. (30 florist vases in your cabinet)  
Bargain clutter- things that we have purchased because they were a great deal, but you now find little or no use for them. 
Freebie clutter-  things that have been given to you because someone else had no use for them and thought you did! Thanks a lot for that!
Crutch clutter-  things you use, but know you shouldn't..can't wait to tackle this one.
Aspirational clutter-  things you have that you want to use...but end up just causing you my scrap booking's been in the house for several years...and not's not going to happen..its not in's going bye bye!
Buyer's remorse clutter-  okay, we all know what this is...the shirt that has had the tags on it for a year...or the shoes you have worn twice in 2 years...
Okay, now instead of feeling overwhelmed, you need to try and think of this as fun...keep in mind how exhilarating that it will be to have closets, drawers and cabinets clean and orderly. And to be able to find things when you need them. Take baby day at a drawer at a time.
I hope that you will journey with me, and If you know someone that may find this useful,  please share this with them..and encourage them to subscribe to my blog!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Amazing Idea For Christmas Loot!

Just had to share this..For those of us that don't wrap....If you are like me, at the last minute, I fear that I don't have enough "stuff" for the wow! factor on Christmas morning..What? Really? Well, yes, unfortunately, I do. This morning we got it all out and took a look..and I had a grand idea..Get it all ready, out of packages, tags gone..and put it in clear plastic bins..DONE! Then, Christmas Eve is simple and stress free..and QUICK...for those of us that love our sleep:) Hope this helps! It took me all of 20 minutes! I'll never NOT do this again! 
Happy Birthday To My Savior!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Un~cluttered Christmas!

Ok, are you taking slow deep breaths? I am having to remind myself to! 

Do you, like me, find it a little annoying that every time you turn on the radio, they are reminding us how many more days until if we don't know!


How are you doing at keeping your Christmas season un~cluttered? I would say mine has been marginal. There are some things that I wish I had done different already. But instead of making myself feel guilt or frustration about my moments of disorganization, or things we missed, I am making notes and reminders for next year..and, yes, putting them in my calendar with reminders. A peak at a few of mine..there are lots!

Note to self, dated Sept 1, 2012: Do not sign up to be party mom for both Holiday parties..YIKES!
Note to self, dated October 15, 2012: Make list of people to buy for and begin buying locally made, unique items!
Note to self, dated Nov 15, 2012: Refer to folder on desktop that contains simple Christmas decor ideas

Ok, so you get the reason that we can't get better and better at managing our holidays so that we have more time to spend doing the things that matter most this time of year! Maybe this is something that you can my iphone for easy to make reminders on the fly!

Funny, we had a "family meeting" of sorts this year at Thanksgiving when we discussed what each of us loved the most about Christmas..Our tops were sparkling Christmas lights at night, decorating sugar cookies, finding the elves and their mischief, watching a few of our favorite Christmas movies together, LOTS of board games and Christmas Eve with our church family and friends! Those are precisely the things that I have made sure happen for I may not have the perfectly decorated home this year, (it's not even fully furnished) or have gotten my cards out on Dec 1st, but so far, though there are a few moments of panic here and there, The McClures are keeping it fairly un~cluttered!

Please take a minute to read this blog from I.N.F.O. if you want more inspiration on making your Christmas the best that it can be! Look forward to checking out some of the suggested readings..may, as he says, "kick my butt", but sometimes it needs to be kicked! It's never too late to slow the bus down!

And might I suggest, if you have not already, before Saint Nick arrives, supply each of your children with a clear plastic bin of decent size, hand it to them and tell them to fill it up with toys that can go to another child, things that are broken or that they simply do not play with..that is on the schedule for this afternoon! Then take off of your premises quickly!!!! Wish us luck!

Wishing all of you that read this, a very Merry Christmas! Looking forward to organizing in the new year, and continuing to strive for simplicity, order and contentment!

Luke 2:14
"Glory To God In The Highest, and On Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men."

See ya in 2012!~Jennifer

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Peak At A Few Of My Projects!

Even I love to see my before and after photos! I truly love doing this! I hope you enjoy too! 

Busy Family Mudroom Before....
Family of 5 Coat and Backpack Hooks Before...

Family Command Center Before...

Hooks After installation of a little bead board and hooks!  A place for keys, now, too! And, of course, a fresh coat of paint in a soft, inviting color!

New "Family Command Center" where mom color codes the kid's activities and has plenty of room for artwork, invites and a cubby for each child's papers!

Unfinished Room In Basement Before...

This mom wanted an "Art Room" where her boys could paint, create and play...Before, it was a room in the basement that was used to stash things out of sight in a hurry..We purged, sorted and containerized. And then,

Isn't this great? We had the walls, unfinished ceiling and floors painted! 

Ready for Lots of Fun!

Unfinished Basement Storage Area
This client , again, is a busy mom of 3 and seems to be a bit of a decorator/crafter! She just needed to some help to get down there, focus, purge and containerize!

There was lots of space, we just got things off of the floor and placed on additional shelving! Now she can see all that she has!

Check out these GREAT labels, and clear bins! I love clear because you can see what you have!

Now when she needs supplies for entertaining, she has it all in one place!

For her holiday decorations, we just purged and added bins..Then stacked neatly! Her husband, that takes it all up when she asks (how sweet), can see clearly what he needs to get!

Close up of the labels! Love these!

And Lastly, A Pantry Re~Do
Before, not too bad...but stuff on the floor makes me crazy, and nothing really had "a place"!

After, with the addition of a few baskets, can organizers, buckets and chalkboard labels, everything has a home!

With that, I am going to go and snuggle with my family! Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I am Hooked on Hooks!

Can one really have too many? There are uses in every room (and outdoor living space for that matter) in your home..I have them by the doors for keys and flashlights, in a hallway for purses, backpacks and leashes, in the bathroom for towels, closet for belts and jewelry......I could go on and on! You get the point though..they can hold anything that needs to be readily accessible and they keep your drawers, countertops and floors free from clutter! They can also serve as great decor!

Here are some of my favorite photos showing off their hooks!! I find lots of these photos on pinterest. Follow me on pinterest here, and you can see where these come from! The best thing about using hooks is that you can find fun, attractive hooks these days without breaking the bank..I buy lots of mine at Hobby Lobby (1/2 price of course), World Market and some at antique malls! 
I love this! I have started my on "fav" hook collection to do this in my long hallway!

This is the beginning of my own collection for my "hallway of hooks"! Will post when up!  Going for the very random look, so I just pick one up when I happen upon something that I love!

Love the randomness!
Chevron design stenciled easy DIY idea!

What a great idea here! Lace stencil on the wall with hooks for jewelry! 
And who said getting and staying organized is not fun? Certainly not me!

Do I  have YOU hooked?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Source of Clutter For Me, How About You?

Yep! Just returned from The Bahamas! Man, was it amazing! God wasn't messing around when he created The Carribean Islands! We had quite possibly our best family vacation to date. This was the view from our hotel room!

While there I had a "realization of sorts". And here's how it went:

A statement from my 9 (almost 10) year old summed it up. "Mommy, I love it that you and daddy have your phones turned off!" You see, it was very costly to have my iphone (love my iphone,btw) on in The Bahamas, so I turned it off in Hartsfield Jackson and did not turn it back on until we were back in Atlanta heading up 85. Can I tell you, it was quite hard the first 24 hours? It alarmed me at how odd it felt not having it at my fingertips. I would consider myself a mom that is pretty "checked in" when it comes to my girls and my husband. But the realization of just how much time I spend with my phone in my hand, either talking with someone, on the internet, or on a handy "app" is making me want to take a look at what it must look and feel like to my kids, my husband and those around me. I am not suggesting that we all toss out phones out the window (some have to make a living on them, as my husband does)...but I would suggest that we take an honest look at how much time it is taking from family and "cluttering" up our lives. By the way, I LOVE my Iphone...but here are a few things that I am doing to unclutter in this area:

I have taken the facebook app off of my phone..hard for some of you that spend lots of time here, but this was a major time waster for me if I have a few minutes and want to take a look at facebook, I must intentionally sit and do so...but for the most part, if I really need to know what is going on in a "friend's life", I should know without help from FB...just sayin'! Had another friend suggest this to me! Thanks S!

UNSUBSCRIBING and cleaning up my inbox: It literally takes 30 seconds to unsubscribe to unwanted emails. I do a lot of my shopping online and so my email gets into everyone's systems. I unsubscribe to as many as I can..I know it only takes a second to delete emails, but having your inbox cluttered up can be stressful whether you realize it or not. Take a few minutes, look at your inbox and get real with yourself. "Unsubscribe" to any emails that you regularly delete without reading. I get a few blogs that I love to read, one being Milk and Honey Home, by my favorite decorator and a good friend. If I don't have time to read it, I store it in an email file that I have titled "Things To Read".

Leave Phone In Car or turn it off: No one will DIE if they cannot reach me while I am at the gym, in the grocery store or getting dressed. You get the point. Yes, I know, schools can call, there could be a family emergency...but let's face it, we all survived long before cell phones. This can be more challenging, again, for those that rely on their phones to help them make a living, but maybe to just set a few "no phone" rules would be freeing for you. My husband has certain times of the day that his gets turned off, and I can't tell you how much we appreciate this! One of my new rules is no personal calls while I am in the car with my girls..unless absolutely necessary..2 reasons for this: Precious time talking (or singing) with them is wasted, and it is setting a "norm" for them in their heads..."mom does it, so when I can drive, I can do it too!" OUCH!!!..and have you ever been at the checkout line in a store on the phone? How must that look to the person helping you...another new no no for me...I'm just saying I am going to me old fashioned....I call in plain consideration.

Ok, so for those of you that love the hard core organzing posts, I will get to one soon, but remember that A "Life~Uncluttered" is accomplished by uncluttering in many ways..not just closets and pantries!

Please leave comments if there are steps that you have taken in this area..would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Laundry Love!

Hello all! Been a few days since I've posted..getting ready for some R&R is hard work (yep, headed for somewhere tropical in a matter of days..Thank you, Jesus!).....So Last week I worked with a wonderful client on her unfinished basement area. She is a mommy of 2 little ones and another on the way any day now! What a pleasure she was to work with. After our initial consult, I sent her a "to do and buy list" before our work day and she had it all bought and ready when I arrived! Talk about motivation! We worked diligently with the help of her mother and MIL (WOW!!!) for just 3 hours and had it looking ship shape! She is a creative type and has worked on her own to finish the project! Will post photos soon!

This leads me to my post tonight...As I am leaving her gorgeous home, I happened to walk by her laundry/mudroom...As for most of us, it is somewhat a "catch all" room. (ie general dumping ground, family planning center, animal area, arts and craft storage, space for entertaining essentials). One can see that this could easily be a problem area when it comes to organization! While this is true, it IS possible to get a handle on this tricky space! Keep in mind that it should not be overlooked in style and "pretty" level! After all, we tend to spend a lot of time here..even if we don't "stay" in the room for extended periods of time, if you are like me, I might walk in or by there at least 15 times a day! Here are a few tips to lessen your "I don't want to go in or by there" thoughts!

Ahhh...we could all handle one like this, huh? Love the curtains on a tension rod to conceal!

~Choose a serene color and paint those walls! Make it a color you love, but one that calms you!

~Conceal ugly items, either in cabinets, baskets or containers...and as always, pretty ones!

~Utilize all areas that you can! No space wasted, but don't overcrowd! (This is where I come in handy)

~If you have front loaders, have a shelf built over them for a large work area..I plan on calling Mr. Phil in for this very soon! (I know a great guy that does GREAT work)

~Make sure there is good lighting. If no window, and budget allows, put in a pretty overhead light. In my new house, there is currently a fluorescent..that bad boy is coming down as soon as possible to be replaced by a light that makes me smile!

~If your laundry room serves several purposes, do your best to designate spaces for each.

~Use family photos or art on the walls as you would in any other room.

Here are just a few more photos to inspire you! All compliments of "Southern Living". 
Even a small space can be simplified!

Window treatments, counter top and baskets!

Love the color and the "built in" look!
Think this is the design I'm going for in my own...If you are reading, Phil, here it is:)
Good night all! I don't know about you, but i am ready to get mine completed..Note to Mr. Phil!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Part 3: Taming The Paper Monster

Ok, for now, the final paper management entry...I MUST mention the unmentionable...The family file cabinet..EVERY home must have one...a sturdy one..and one with some size to cheap little one drawer thing..just doesn't work long term! Chasing after paper costs time, money and adds unnecessary stress to our lives! But just to have one is not enough...You must manage it! This may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Here are a few suggestions:

Of course, as previously mentioned, set a realistic goal, straighten up the house, be fully dressed and get to work! (I think it is fun to tell a close friend what you are doing too! Keeps ya honest) Remember, that usually, all organizing tasks take, on the average, 2 times longer than we think it will take us!

~Gather supplies: pad of paper, pen, new file folders and a labeler!

~Yes, you must first actually OPEN the drawers. Take a brief look inside and make a list of the files that you have currently. Now, close the drawer(s). At this point, I would sit don and think about what files you need to add and what can be taken away. 

~If your files and their labels are old and ratty, start with new ones! And as always, label things attractively...I always prefer a labeler over hand written!

~Make all new files with labels.

~Now, yes, you must re open the drawers...ugh! Go ahead~Purge and re file contents, taking one file at a time. Again, I sit on the floor with a trash can and shredder near by!

~Alphabetize the files..this will make locating a file a snap!

~Make yourself an appointment one year from when you tackle this to do it again! 

~Don't forget to file from your short term filing system into the main files at least once a week..and you may find that you need to add files as life changes...


Studies show that most of us keep papers WAY too long!  Here is a general guideline for the average household: My suggestion would be for you to copy this on an index card and tape it to the inside of the file cabinet..

Receipts—1 month
Bank Statements—1 year (save annual statements for 7 years in case you get audited)
Credit Card Statements—45 days to 7 years. Throw out statements once you confirm that receipts match up with statements; keep for 7 years if tax-related
Loan and Mortgage Statements—For the length of the loan or mortgage, plus 7 years
Medical Bills—1 year after they’ve been paid off
Tax Documents—7 years
Home Improvement Receipts—Until your house sells. Proof of spending can sometimes be used to lower your taxes, and you may need proof to the buyer of how recent the improvements or repairs were
Investment Statements—Indefinitely~ I have to say that I don't agree with this one. We can access all of our statements online and we are paperless in this area.
Utility Bills~If you feel it necessary to keep these, 6 months at most...I shred them. Once again, you can access all of the info that you may need in the future online!

If you need guidance, accountability, or just someone there to keep you on task, call me and we can set up an appointment!..   

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wanted: The Simple Life!

With each passing year, I yearn for simplicity more and more

Okay, so if you are hoping for some concrete "to dos" today to make your world more organized, just go ahead and hit the "delete" button now. Yesterday was another one of THOSE days that I had all lined up..gym, volunteer at school, lunch with new friends and then the afternoon at the barn (my 2nd fav place to be)! But God had different plans for me! Seriously?
Yup! You see, I had the distinct honor of spending the day with my 92 year old grandfather! Isn't he handsome? So he needed a ride home from the hospital..and I just happened to be "free". I was? Yup! So, I woke at dark, poured a nice cup o Joe and headed off to the country! Right away, I was greeted by an amazing sunrise and then the knowledge that I had a few hours alone in the car started to settle in..All plans had been cancelled and taken care of, and I began to look at the day through a different lens! I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 am fully expecting to see my grandfather in the bed looking "tired and 92", and to wait around for hours while discharge paperwork was done at "small hospital pace". But yet again, my assumptions were dead wrong. There is my grandfather, in a chair, fully dressed, looking dapper, waiting expectantly for me! No way? We were discharged within minutes and he refused a wheelchair! Yup, that's how he rolls! 

So I won't bore you with the details of my day, but it turned into one of my most profound in quite some time. Best part: I was able to hold hands with my grandfather. He lives a "simple" life, some would call boring..he gardens, fishes, visits with neighbors and is active in his little church...not sure there is much else to do in his parts..I left him yesterday longing for more of the "little" that he has.
Take a look at how simple and beautiful this "little" church is! When I stopped to take this picture, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I want my life to look just like this. Simple, clean, and pleasing to God!..Just one of many of my "moments" yesterday...If I told you all of them I would be here writing all day!

These stacks of fresh picked cotton..had to take picture of them when I realized that I bet my girls have never seen cotton before it becomes their tee shirts! Geez..I need to get them out in the country more..where kids still play outside until the sun goes down. 

My Pa Pa's swing, where there has been countless hours of love, laughter and conversation...

And on the way home, I did get to do some pickin'! 

Who's with me? 

Out of Clutter
Find Simplicity
From Discord
 Find Harmony
In The Middle Of
Difficulty Lies
~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Part 2: Taming The Paper Monster

Okay, so what to do with the mounds of paper that you have right now! A few simple steps that have proven to work:

  • Block out a day on your calendar to stay appointments, no interruptions. Do not answer the phone unless it is your spouse or your child's school. NO EXCEPTIONS!!
  • Wake up early, take a shower, have your quiet time, and your cup of Joe..and if you are like me, make all of the beds! I can't seem to be super productive around the house unless it is pretty-fied!
  • Turn on the music that makes you feel alive, light a candle and GET TO WORK!!
  • Remember that your primary goal is to rid your drawers and counter tops of unnecessary and unwanted paper. (We will deal with purging filing cabinets on another day!)
  • This may sound crazy, but this has worked for myself and several clients..hang with me. Go room by room, start in the kitchen...gather ALL of the papers that have accumulated in that given room. Sit down (I love to sit on the floor and work) with your trash can and/or shredder near by..AND START PURGING! Be real with you really need it? Will you really ever look at it? Can you easily access it online? Dispose of the papers immediately..if you have to ponder it, you don't need it!
You will end up with a pile of keepers..(hopefully about 1/3 of what you started with) leave it, and move on to another room..most people only have 2 or 3 rooms where paper accumulates. Ours are our home office and kitchen..but I often have to check the girl's bedrooms for fly aways!  

Next, you will:

  • Choose a spot to set up your processing station for incoming paper.  Most people use the kitchen or home office, but you could also put it just inside the door where you come in and out of your house. NEVER leave it in your car!
  • Create categories that fit your lifestyle. Most incoming paper falls into a few categories: To Do, To File, To Read, To Pay or To Destroy.  Sort your current papers into these will then use your other categories from your previous "where does my paper come from" lists. (another post) For instance, I have one category titled For Fred, One for each child, one for a women's group I facilitate and so on...Another example is that I have one client whose kids are very active in a ballet school. She was always getting mounds of notices, flyers, etc from them and all the time losing them...she created a file folder labeled ballet! You get the point!
  • Designate a logical spot in your processing area for each category to live using file folders or wall bins.  Label each organizing tool, so everyone knows what kind of information lives there and what kind of information doesn’t live there.
  • Set up mailboxes or folders for other family members, so everyone can become responsible for their own action items.  When you process incoming paper, be sure to put everyone’s items into their own mailbox.
  • Don't forget, always make your tools appealing to look at, yes, pretty! And if at all possible, use a labeler! Weird, I know, but I promise it makes a difference!
My Short Term File Box For Incoming Mail

Finally, there are two secrets to controlling paper clutter as I have mentioned before. The first is processing your incoming paper regularly.  Daily is ideal, but if that’s not realistic, at least get to it once a week.  If you are not going to get to it immediately, have ONE designated place for it. The second secret is to make notes in your calendar to remind you to take action on the items in your action file. Otherwise, they may sit there untouched for weeks. Like all organizing systems, you must tend to them after you have put them in place..They will not run themselves. 

If you feel like you need help with this, get some! Many people (no, you are not alone) just need someone there with them to keep them focused, on task and accountable! Call me if you are in the Atlanta area, or another organizer..just call someone! And one final thing! I just have to add this amazing photo that I just uploaded. It was taken at a party that we took our youngest daughter to..a group of families with children from China...aren't they amazing? What a gift! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How a sick child can be a beautiful thing...

Isn't it a beautiful thing....we have our crazy day planned out..gym, ladies group, grocery store, bill paying, laundry...all things that seem pressing..and THEN...something happens..a sick or injured child, a friend in need, lost keys...whatever. After a moment of panic, you realize, that we CAN slow our lives down. We CAN stop dead in our tracks. Has it occurred to you, as it has for me today, that we should not wait until something "happens"? Our endless "to do" lists don't always have to get done, do they? You see, today, I am at home with a sick child, and I had a "list" today.... But, instead, I all morning, I have happily been by her side rubbing her head, holding back her hair, and tending to her every need. I have been right where I need to be..Feeling VERY un~cluttered, and not worried a bit by my to do list! (Until tomorrow) My challenge to myself, and to all that bother to read this is: Let's try and un~clutter our schedules a bit every now and then. Our culture tells us to go go go..spend spend spend, do do do. All the while we run around with knots in the pits of our stomachs hurrying from here to there so that we can fit it all in. I want to raise my kids knowing how to stop and smell the roses, not just see them as we wiz by them! I want them to know how to sit on the back porch swing and just talk, how to love stillness and quiet, and more importantly, how to stop dead in their tracks to help and love on someone that needs them. You see, part of being un~cluttered on the outside MUST begin with un~cluttering ourselves on the inside. So are you with me? Let's help ourselves, and this next generation to grow up with a head start on the de~cluttering process!!!

"A porch without a swing is like tea without the sweet..."in honor of my mother, who taught me to love swings, sweet tea, and screened doors!