Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Vacation

The Declutter Club is on an Olympic Vacation in Vancouver.

Back to decluttering soon!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quick Chore- Conquering the Recipes

Oops-posted this to the group but not here! Enjoy!

Pick your poison- Hoarders, Biggest Loser, Larry King Live- any favorite show. Grab your recipe disaster and get to it!!

Once again, a video where I chose not to shower. What is up with me? Apparently I need to feel dirty to get to the nitty gritty.


Week 5- Recap and more kids junk

Week 5: Recap and more kids junk

Quiet Time: List 5 things you would like your children to treasure in 10 years. Is it school work, pride in workmanship, religion, exercise, culture, cleanliness? There is a wide range of things that might be important to you to pass on. I can tell you, no one will say they want their kids to value over eating, a messy house or yelling but when we are stressed out we often pass on the worst of it. Think about how you will teach, be, and portray these treasures. Write another list of how you are going to pass on to your kids these wonderful treasures.

This week I’d like you all to spend some time cleaning up and finishing the last 4 assignments.

1. Go through all the bathrooms. Can you get rid of anything else? Just 10% more? That is 1 in 10 toys, gadgets, gizmos and accessories. Take a look at the walls- are they finished? Do you have a framed picture from somewhere in the house you can put in here? Is there a basket you emptied that could be re-purposed for rolled washcloths? Is there a bathroom sheet you can sew the top of and make a beautiful shower curtain? Take a bubble bath ;-)

2. Enter your master bedroom. Clothes, books, magazines and the like….are they put away? Open all the closets- can you get rid of 10% more? That is just 1 in 10 items. See if you can come up with 1 more bag of donations. Often, when we do an initial purge, we skim off the top, so skim off the top again and repeat until you are left with only the items you use regularly. Take a nap.

3. Take a seat on your sofa and look around. Are you relaxed? Can you breathe easily? Open each drawer, cabinet, storage device and see if just 1 in 10 items can be recycled. Take a look around, can you finish up any little details? Add or subtract a piece of art? Watch a movie.

4. Go in to your kids rooms or spare room, is it still a mess? Are there unfinished projects from last week?
Take a look at your Big Plan List and see if there are any more little jobs that need to go on the list. See if you can put a few projects on to your calendar for the week.

This week, EJ takes you on a tour of his before and after bedroom. My 3 kids share 2 bedrooms. 1 is for Sophia and all the kids’ clothes, and the other is for the 2 boys and all the toys. Trust me, they LOVE it this way. As you look at the video, look at the 3 bins under the bed, and the 3 drawer plastic shelf to the left. This is ALL the toys my kids have. That is IT. All the toys belong there, and they always go back there. Each child has a drawer under the bed (supposedly) and other than that there is no organization. Everything is tossed in the bins in a very speedy manner.

In the after video (just a few minutes later), 5 year old EJ shows you how he easily puts everything away.

In the dresser: 1 drawer for Simon’s PJs and 1 for EJ’s PJs, 1 drawer of yoga mats, 1 drawer of bags, backpacks etc. In the top drawers: 1 empty, 2 misc drawers of videos from Korea.

Review all your rooms and ENJOY what you have accomplished!

And my dirty little secret- the boys’ closet is very deep and fairly useless. It is our dump zone. If someone gives me a bag of toys, hand-me-downs etc they go right in the closet. When I have time, I go through it and make decisions but to maintain my decluttered house I need a spot where things can go in a pinch. Instead of stuff being tucked away here and there, it is only in this one closet and is my only closet that is disgusting.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brook Noel's Latest Class (perfect for all you)

While we are just a bunch of mom's trying to clear out the clutter, Brook Noel offers many classes on creating SYSTEMS (I'm no good at that) and helps you create a process for keeping the clutter out. I thought this class in particular would fit great with the goals of our group.


If I wasn't off to the Olympics for 2 weeks I'd be taking this class to help me "tune up" from my 70 day challenge (which remember, took me 2 years).

I make no money off promoting her, so please know that I just genuinly believe in her skills as a professional. She changed my life and for that, I owe at least promoting her amazing programs!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Week 4- Kids' rooms/Spare Room

Week 4: Declutter Club~ Kids Rooms/spare room

I can hardly believe we are in week 4! How many bags have you tossed? Donated? I’ve enjoyed hearing stories this week from those of you that have taken things off your Big Plan List and incorporated them into your decluttering schedule. It is hard to find time for all those little projects, but once you get them started you will get on a roll. Seeing a room that can breathe brings peace and motivation.
This week is the kids’ rooms or the spare/guest room.

If you are starting with a room chalk full, grab all your baskets/totes from your last challenge. In this room, I start with goodwill/consignment/laundry/trash/recycle and paper bags with my friends’ names on them (for hand me downs). Grab your vacuum and dust rag. Bring your kids into the room and have them try on some clothes- the goal is to find the shortest pair of pants, shirt, waist etc you want to keep for them. Then, you kick them out and measure THAT pair of pants up to all the other ones.

Action - Task 1
1. Take everything out of the closets. Everything. You need to see everything in the room so you can decide what you need, and what you want to keep. Sometimes seeing all of this induces nausea so have that trash handy.
2. Clean the closet. Do a quick wipe down, vacuum and scurry those bugs out!
3. Take a minute to envision what the final closet will look like. What do you want for your closet, under the bed, walls. Make a plan.
4. The tough work begins now. Where did all this stuff come from? Start clearing out keeping in mind what you really need and what you will realistically use in the future. Think through the purpose and clear out. Get MAD at that clutter and purge it. Really. You will feel better when it is gone. If this is your first purge, focus on getting rid of 50%.
5. Consider how you want the remaining items to be organized. Do these things belong in this room? Do you need to find some hangers? Box, etc? Complete it. This is no time to become distracted- focus on putting everything away where it needs to go.
6. Grab your calendar and schedule goodwill drop offs- play dates with friends who you have hand me downs for. Take a few pictures and post things online to sell.

Task 2
Look around at the furniture, walls, ledges, under the bed etc. Do you enjoy looking at what is on the wall? Do you need all the furniture? Can you purge the insides of the dresser, then sell the dresser? Look at each piece in the room and decide its fate. Our consignment shop takes wall decorations and knick knacks too.

Task 3
Books: Can your kids get to all the books on the bookshelf? If not, consider donating or selling ½ of your books. Start with ones that are duplicate, annoying, too young or boring. Rediscover books at the bottom of the pile. Don’t organize them at this point; put that on your Big Plan List for later. For now, just sit them upright.

The same rules apply from the living room toy purge.
Monica’s Rules - get rid of:

1. Anything that is broken or has missing parts
2. Anything that is rarely played with and annoys the heck out of you
3. Anything that is rarely played with and wouldn't be missed
4. All but the favorite stuffed animals/dolls
Once you follow those 4 steps- see what is left. I keep a small box of infant toys in the closet. When a friend comes over with an infant baby, I can quickly pull out the box. These are toys the kids haven’t seen for a while, so they are more apt to play with the baby. Consider keeping a box of trains and track or big legos for toddler guests. These types of toys are timeless- but make sure to only keep in moderation.

In our room, toys fit in under bed storage. Each child has a sliding bin where their toys belong.

For Spare Rooms:

Do you subscribe to the “Out of sight, out of mind” philosophy? Do you cram old wedding gifts, art projects, confiscated toys and clutter in closets that can become quickly ignored? The spare room or guest room is often the least frequently used room and becomes a victim to our quick clean ups. Problem is these things fester behind the door and in the back of our minds. What projects are you hiding in your closet? Will you really get to those? Extra blankets? Pillows? What is there that you can release? Take everything out and focus on getting rid of ½ of the items in the closet so you can easily see and use what is in there. My mom uses her spare room closet for her computer room. She put a table across the parallel shelves and has everything she needs for an “office” tucked in there neatly (I won’t mention the status of the other closets). If you have a function or purpose for your closet, you will resist using it as a dumping zone.

We are in the thick of birthday season around here so I’ve encouraged the kids to clear out for the incoming windfall. Games with intact parts, toys and books have all gone to the consignment shop. Some helpful ideas for gifts are necessities and experiences. Simon is getting a new car seat for his birthday! He is so excited to get a ‘racer’ car seat and he picked out the colors himself. To me, this is a necessity, but for Simon (+my hype) he is so excited to open up the box. Instead of gifts, how about a trip- a hotel stay with a parent and a little friend or bowling with the family. Take lots of pictures and make a little scrapbook of your adventures. Cooking class, art class, music class are all fun adventures that don’t create clutter.

Have a great week and may you breathe easier this weekend!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Week 3 - Living Room/Entertainment Zone

Welcome back!
Entertainment areas should provide entertainment, not stress. This area should be clear of clutter so when you plop down on the sofa it is truly a relaxing experience. After reading the assignment, go around the house collecting items that belong in this room. Also, grab your bins/boxes from last week so you can purge 50% of what you have in this room.

Quiet Time:
So many of you say you are overwhelmed by the “clutter”. We are prisoners to it. We don’t know where to start, or what to think. We start in a closet but come across sentimental things that we can’t part with, so we leave that mess to de-clutter a new mess. This long weekend we are going to tackle the entertainment area. This SHOULD be an area to relax and enjoy family time- especially on a long weekend. Peace first comes with our eyes, then our ears and our other senses follow. We see something calm, serene, clean and unobstructed and are cozied up we are able to take a deep breath and relax. Identify thoughts, feelings, objects and sounds that make you relax. A little music? A photo of your favorite place? A snuggie? Write down several ways you can bring those things in to your life more often.

Task 1: Take a few minutes to look over your Big Plan List and identify some things you can move on to your calendar for this weekend.

Task 2: Grab those bins from last week and move them in to the living room/entertainment area. Knowing you can destroy your living room while purging, we will do one item at a time as to not create too much of a disaster.

Bookshelves: Sell books on amazon and use the library. Once you sell all your books, sell the bookshelf or re-purpose it in a different room. As a high school teacher, I appreciate donations of current novels for my class library. Do you have someone you could give them to, and then when you feel the urge to re-read a book, borrow from their library? If you love books, that is wonderful- display them in a peaceful way, not crammed in hodge- podge.

Electronics: Have ONE container for all misc batteries, chargers, cords, usb, ports etc. Once you have them all in one area, assess how many you need. Every electronic item I buy seems to come with the same cords. Put one cord in locations you need (I have a camera upload cord in my office, at my desk and in my laptop bag) and recycle the rest. Do you have power cords to computers you don’t own? Manuals for software that is obsolete? Clean it out so you have one bin of functioning usable items.

DVDs CDs VHS: My rule is to only keep what you are currently using. Every decade a new “system” comes out, be it beta, vhs, lazer disk, dvd etc. Currently the trend is instant access (don’t know the technical term). We have a www.netflix.com account and live stream right to our TV or computers. If they don’t have it live, we order the dvd by mail. This way, there is absolutely no clutter, no collecting, but with the convenience of a huge volume of videos for about $9 a month. Local libraries also have tons of dvds. You might not know the extent of the selection until you go online to the reservation section. Most high demand library items are put on hold, and then when it becomes available you are notified and only you can pick up the item-making them virtually unknown to someone that just checks the shelves. VHS- check and see if your favorites are on Netflix or DVD form and get rid of them. Can you even buy a vhs player anymore? After you purge your dvds, consider recycling the jewels cases and putting them in a cd storage binder. Cds be-gone for Itunes and an ipod.

Gaming systems: Bored with games? Take them to “Game Stop” or some other store that allows trade-ins or cash back. It is best to do sooner than later to get top dollar.

Walls: Take a minute to look at your walls. While purchasing family portraits or a piece of art is fun, why not trade with other rooms in the house to give it a fresh new look? Don’t just buy some stock photography from a warehouse store, see if you have a photo that can be enlarged and traded out in an existing frame.

Toys in the Living Room: As a family you have to decide the volume of toys, if any, in this room. When kids are little, it can be very convenient to have toys where kids can be easily supervised. My kids are now 3, 4 and 5 and we have no toys in the living. This rule is flexible and they’ll pull out a game on the floor or bring some racetrack out to play, but there is no toy storage. All toys belong under the bed. If you do allow toys, consider limiting them to one box or drawer. Can you clear out a section of your entertainment unit for toy storage? What about a flat bin under the sofa?

Magazines- My rule of thumb is only the current magazine is allowed in the house. I must finish up the old before cracking open the new one. With the internet, there is limited reason to “clip” articles or keep magazines.

A side note from Monica (this was written about toys, but is essential for electronics too):
Rules - get rid of:

1. anything that is broken or has missing parts
2. Anything that is rarely played with and annoys the heck out of you
3. Anything that is rarely played with/wouldn't be missed
4. All but the favorite stuffed animals/dolls

It's best to do it during school or nap time, for obvious reasons. I used to put things aside for a week or two to make sure that no one noticed the toys that were "lost", but they never have so now I just get rid of them right away.
Special note: Trains should be put away each night. Can’t convince dh? Tell him by rebuilding, it gives the child the opportunity to be inspired creatively on a daily basis.

Optional: Go out to your car with your bins and some wipes. If you are like me, the car ends up being somewhat of a transfer station. Sort through with your bins for trash, recycle, laundry, inside house etc. I keep a laundry basket in my car of things that need to be dropped off, returned, exchanged etc. Then, as I’m driving by, I can do a quick errand. Finish up by doing a quick clean of your car.

Next Room: Kids rooms/Guest room/Spare room! Catch up the laundry so you can see EVERYTHING that your child owns, and start putting all misc toys in the house in to their room.

I'd love to hear more stories on how the master bath and bedroom came along. Comment on the BB or on the blog.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 2 Master Bedroom

Week 2: Master Bedroom

Week 2 Task 1 Quiet Time:

What kind of shopper are you? There are polar opposites. I call it the “Wal-Mart shopper” vs. “Saks 5th shopper”. Wal-Mart shoppers tend to buy a lot of the same item because they are cheap. A sweater may start fading and lose its shape after only a few months but since it was only $10, that is OK and the purchase is repeated. The Saks 5th shopper carefully spends a larger sum of money buying one quality sweater. They might have this top for 2 years, but it lasts and looks good during that time. There is no right or wrong answer. Both shoppers will end up spending about the same amount of money on that item whether it is 1 sweater for 2 years, or 10 sweaters for the same length of time. This same line of thinking can go for sheets, kitchenware, a car, electronics etc. What kind of shopper are you? Keep in mind that the more you go out shopping, the more you will tend to buy as the number of shopping opportunities increases. You have more “buying” opportunities going to Wal-Mart monthly, versus going to a finer shop less frequently. Jot down your thoughts on how many shopping opportunities you have. What kind of stuff do you bring in to your home? Needs or wants?

Master Bedroom: As I shared last week, here is my Big Plan list of what I would like to accomplish in my bedroom. This is the end goal for this room and not necessarily the assignment for the week. Paint Ceiling, paint walls, obtain curtain rods, choose curtain color, exchange curtains, hang curtains, sort through/label kids keepsake chest, choose and buy bed, wash-measure then sew sheets for duvet cover, hang paintings post paint, purge side table, re frame print from Korea, dryel load, iron 7 shirts, purge 20%. Added: refinish side tables and chest, patch holes, wash walls prepaint, buy new light switches, install light switches,

Take a look at your Big Plan list for you master bedroom and consider what you can accomplish this week. The most important part is to clear the clutter and have your room breathing again.

Task 2: Organizing
You will need a transportable system to take through each of your rooms. You can use cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, big boxes, etc and have 2 large trash bags. Label the boxes, “Give away/exchange party”, “mend”, “belongs elsewhere” , “storage”, “dry-clean” and “sell”. Label the bags, “Trash” and “recycle”. I also have, “consignment shop” and “sell online”. CUSTOMIZE to make it work. Perhaps you don’t want to sell a thing, just give it all away!!!

Frugal tip: As you purge, consider hosting a Naked Lady Party as explained here: http://www.getcrafty.com/home_nakedlady.php

I strongly suggest “west coast style” as it is way more fun and works out perfectly. My friend hosted one in the fall and we had about 10 ladies- all shapes and sizes. It was great and we all left very happy.

Action: The Master Bedroom Purge
1. Throw all your sheets into the washer.
2. Clothes: Take everything out from your dressers and closets putting like items together. Take the time to try on your clothes. Do you love them? Do they fit? If you are planning on being a new size, start a storage box with that size clearly labeled (maternity, size 10 etc). Carefully look at each piece of clothing. Are their holes? Do they need to be hemmed? Do you have 14 black skirts? (don’t laugh, my mom did!!). How many summer dresses to you have? Do you ever wear the ones that are not your favorite? Give away the ones you don’t wear. Do you have matching shoes? A sweater? I tend to keep the items that have complete outfits ready to go. Stained underwear goes. Holes in socks go. Bras that have lost elastic go. Belts that don’t fit or have lost their color go. Anything older than 5 years GOES!!!!!

3. Nightstand: Pull everything out. Does the item REALLY belong next to your bed? Grab some Ziploc and sort, or purge, or move it. My magazine rule is when the new one comes, the old must go.

4. Put sheets in the dryer.
5. What do you have on the “tops” of your furniture? Picture frames? Books? Clutter=anything you use so infrequently you must dust it. Items with dust = more work. Store it, sell it or purge it!
6. Lay out all your jewelry. Is there any you can give away? Sell? Is anything broken and needs to be repaired?
7. What lurks under you bed? Pull it out and sort it. If it is under your bed, why are you keeping it? Now that you have room under your bed, can you move some of the memento clutter, or books you want to read under you bed? Clearly mark the box so you remember.
8. Are you done? Are there any other areas in your room that need to be sorted? Do it!
9. Move all your containers where they need to go (e.g. trash, back of car, storage etc).
10. Grab your sheets from the dryer and make your bed….I present to you….your Clean BREATHING MASTER BEDROOM!

Lastly, put on your calendar all the to-dos that you added from your bedroom clean. Jewelry cleaning (or fixing), mending, dry cleaning, goodwill run, ironing etc. See if you can’t tackle those tasks this week.

My before purge video (keep in mind, this is a maintenance purge and you might have a much larger task ahead).

My purged bedroom: Doesn't my 5 year old videographer do a fantastic job!?!?!?!

My bedroom is purged and we have made a lot of progress on the Big Plan list. I’ll have a picture in about 2 weeks!

Next Week: The entertainment area. (go ahead a toss those VHS tapes now)
In preparation: Start meal planning out of your cabinets, fridge and freezer.
If you want to develop a system of maintaining clutter free and organized, I highly recommend Brook Noel’s “The Change Your Life Challenge: A 70 day life makeover program for women”.
Disclaimer: This advice is for the occasional collector- if you have a serious hoarding problem seek professional advice immediately.

Disclaimer 2: I have zero responsibility for my dh's laundry or clutter. I wish I did. I invited him to join our club. At this point, his see-are-aye-pee is encroaching on my closet space.