Saturday, July 24

There Really IS a Table In the Dining Room

Will be going up north for a week so here's a fantastic Before/After set of photos for you to drool over for at least that long.
This busy mom of three also tutors, also teaches part-time and is involved with church outreach and her friends and.....whew!
She wanted her dining room to look calm and peaceful, yet be at-the-ready to use for tutoring, planning lessons and her kids' craft storage.  Good thing she has that beautiful, spacious oak buffet with many drawers and shelves.  Yes, that is a changing table in the corner but it's permitted in her "office" since one shelf holds the printer.  Oh, she also wants to be able to use her dining room table for meals without too much "clearing off" required.
Grab a friend to help and spend one or two hours steadily plugging away at one room.  You'll be amazed how much you can accomplish when you work together.

Tuesday, July 20

It's Easy to Find the Cat Carrier When It's Hanging From the Ceiling

Here's the follow-up photo from the shed de-cluttering post of July 9th.  We can now walk all the way from the door to the back wall, turn around in any direction, and actually touch/pick up anything we want in the shed!  Note that several things are hanging from the rafters--we're short folks!

Although we moved in a three-tier shelf from the "big" shed, the little wall shelves were already in place, as were the many nails for hanging items.

A friend gave me the grain sack, which I stuffed with Wal-Mart bags to fluff it out for display.

The underpaid gardener of the house--note the white socks raised over the pants legs and heavily sprayed with insect repellent; great for keeping ticks and other biters from easily accessing my ankles.  If you're wondering "Where are all the flowers?" just blame the minimal rainfall here in Virginia, and the gardener's lousy attention to watering.

Monday, July 19

Room to Think

Last Tuesday I helped a friend de-clutter and organize her home office. We re-discovered her desk surfaces, several feet of carpet and 5+ unused storage containers of various sizes. After 3 hrs she had made a huge dent in her accumulated stuff and had two extra large bags of trash to dispose of, plus the box for Goodwill.

There were many bags of "car" papers; papers she had brought in from her car over the last 6 months or so that were collected in multiple bags and which we had piled together, covering half a twin bed. Making our assessment at the end of the clean-up session she wondered, "Should I work on the car papers next?"
Looking around the room, seeing her progress so far and realizing how motivating it was for her to see some empty space in the office I said, "No, keep working on clearing the rest of the things off the floor and edges of the room. Save the "car papers" for after you're done with what we started today." I knew that if she started working on the bags of paper she would get bogged down in filing the important ones and might lose her zeal for finishing the general clean-up of her office.
Now, if there was something critical in those bags of car papers, then they would be a higher priority than finishing up the general clean sweep of the office. But, she did not think the contents of the bags were of high importance--she just wanted to make sure nothing worth saving was thrown away.
A few days later she reported that she had cleaned off all the surfaces of her desk, even going through notebooks and culling out the important papers. Afterwards, she ploughed through her bags of “car papers” and tossed a huge trash bag of discards.
Walking into a room with open space on the walls, desk surfaces and floor is relaxing, calming and sets us in the right frame of mind for clear thinking. It bolsters our motivation and lets us make faster decisions about what to keep, share and toss.

Saturday, July 10

Do You Have Space to Help a Friend

A good friend called this afternoon to ask if we could temporarily store some clothes for her, since her adult child is moving back home to attend school.  Discussing her space needs reminded me of being a Realtor, as we problem solved her needs and talked in terms of linear feet of closet rod space needed to hang her out-of-season clothes.  I figured I could give her about 3-4' of hanging space and that suited her just fine.
After the call I moved out some items from the closets that were taking up prime real estate--two 5 gallon Rubbermaid coolers, gift boxes that I was saving to use at Christmas, and about 50 unused dry cleaner hangers that are now headed to the recycle bin.  What was I keeping those for???
A quick review of my other bedroom closets made me realize that I have invested about 5' of hanging space to clothes and linens that need to be ironed.  The linens are family hand-me-downs that require dampening and careful ironing as well as smaller pieces that I found at resale shops and often use when friends come over. 
On wash day (every Monday) my mom used to fold her clean clothes and linens and put them on a shelf for her once-weekly ironing day--Tuesday.  My items have been hanging up, waiting for my attention, for 6 months to 2 years!  That's too much real estate--physically and mentally speaking--to devote to clothes, tablecloths and pillow cases that nudge me for attention each time I open the closet door.
Years ago a friend told me that many nights she ironed clothes at 10 PM while she watched her favorite shows.  Her kids were in bed and the house was quiet.  Ironing calmed her down and she actually enjoyed doing it at this time of night.  She's slightly more "saintly" than me, but I need to find a method that works.

Friday, July 9

Hey, I Can Walk Inside My Shed Now

Didn't quite get it all finished, but this morning we couldn't even step into our small shed and now we can.
Took everything out of the shed and laid it on the very dry ground here in Central Virginia.  About 20% of the items headed to the dump, although Phil was able to reclaim some hardware from a few items.

After sweeping and using the power vac to clean out the cobwebs and years of dirt, we moved the wooden shelves from the larger shed and placed them toward the front of the small shed, where the sunlight would shine on them.  An old trunk fit perfectly under the lower shelf and that's where I put my "good" clay pots until I need them.  I've learned that I need to keep pots covered somehow or else I often find a bunch of black widow spiders hanging out in the nice, dark recesses of the pots.
Made an effort to put usable pieces of wood in just one corner of the shed so I can find them easily.  Same for b-balls, soccer equipment and tennis balls; they all went into a large container we already had.  Remember--resist the impulse to buy storage containers until you see how much you really have left to organize, after your de-cluttering efforts.
Look for photos of the finished shed layout in later posts.

Thursday, July 8

All in a Bunch

Do you pick up pretty rocks when you travel?  Where to put them all???  How about family photos--are they strewn about most horizontal surfaces in your home?
Visiting Betsy's home today for our monthly investment club meeting and admiring her extensive rock collection from her travels reminded me about an idea I read a long time ago about how to display favorite collections--mass them for greater impact. 
I'd love to close the lid of our inherited baby grand piano and display the photos there, but doing so would result in the pointy end of the piano lid jutting out into the hallway--ouch!  Compromise--put the majority of them into a glass front cabinet and arrange them on different shelves by family groups:  dear husband's growing up pictures, my family's photos, our kids and a special shelf for just the two of us.
This way the photos tell a story, at least to us, of where we came from.  Only two photos of my husband's mom who left this world at an early age, lots of photos of his twin and their dad.  Mini shots of my mom taking my brother and me swimming at Lake Wauconda in IL, even though she was afraid of the water.  Albums will never lose their importance, but a collection of framed family photos can tell a story, too.

Wednesday, July 7

It's Only 106 in the Shade Today

Since it was only 106 in the shade today, of course I decided that this was the day to de-clutter and organize my part of the "big shed."  I must be dreaming all of this because my family and friends will testify that I hate hot weather; maybe those vitamins I started taking this week did something to me.
Please keep in mind that there are no small children going in/out of the shed so keeping sharp tools and farm chemicals low to the ground is okay in our situation.  You're also going to see a lot of mess around the areas that eventually get straighted up--remember, we can't de-clutter someone else's stuff.
The target area to de-clutter today was the dog bench as well as figuring out a better place to keep small garden tools.  The dog bench is the home for biscuits, dog and cat grooming items and bird seed.  In cold weather I use it to brush my Springer Spaniel so I need a wide open space to set her on.
The open bag of dog biscuits went into a coffee tin.  I rescued the Tupperware cups and bowls that had been stolen from my kitchen and put out the "approved" dog food cups for easy use.  All the greasy feed and grooming supplies, like corn oil and hair oil, now sit on an absorbent paper towel near the recycled container holding the dog clippers.  Several tubes of 3-year old antiobiotics and canine ear treatment were tossed out.  It's way too hot to take Tellie inside the shed to groom her, but I could if need be.  Brushing Stewey is easier, since he can jump up on the bench by himself.  Please note--if you have even the slightest possibility that children or animals will get into your shed or storage space, please be very careful where you put sharp items and chemicals.
Small, infrequently used garden tools and dog care items went into a shoe organizer hung on the second door of the shed that is rarely opened.  Some of the tools were too top-heavy to safely stay in the shoe-sized pouches, so I used some recycled hay twine to attach short loops to the tools, then hung them from nails placed in a spot that wouldn't get brushed against when Mr. Farmer goes in and out of the shed.  Sometimes I get a little "push back" when I de-clutter a shared space, so I try to review any new arrangement with a critical eye and often slightly adjust where I've placed something so it doesn't unsettle the other person.

Yes, that is a new tablecloth on the dog bench.  It had been crushed up in a heap on the bench, waiting for its turn, for about 2 years...  Will share more photos of other shed storage areas in later posts.