Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Clutter Free Challenge Day 10: Kitchen Counters

Yaaaaaaaaay!  I made it to day 10 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge!  Today is all about clearing off the kitchen counters.  Our kitchen counters seem to slowly collect clutter throughout the week.  It all starts out fairly innocent... a couple papers here, an empty air-freshener there... and then it becomes the home of things that should live elsewhere.

The goals for today's challenge are to remove things that don't belong, and to only keep items that get used more than three times a week out on the counter.

Here are the before photos:

The peninsula to the left of the stove.  A pile of recipes, my friend's cake carrier, an empty air freshener, our "coffee tray," a candle, a pile of my husbands things, a toy DIngo flung up there, crowded kitchen equipment, and spice-jar explosion hidden behind the electric teapot.

To the right of the stove.  A spoon rest, utensil holders, a compost bin, a little pot I keep sponges in, the dish soap dispenser, a rogue sponge, a dirty glass, a bowl of apple cider vinegar (aka fruit fly death-trap), butter, and a little pile of garlic cloves.

Dingo Before.  ALMOST ready to play.

I cleared everything that didn't belong in the kitchen from the counter and put it away or found it a home.  Then I attacked the cluttered appliance corner and decided that we really only need to keep the toaster-oven and electric teapot out.  I made a new place for the cutting-boards and weeded out the spices so they all fit in their drawer.

I added a "collection" basket for the things that will inevitably end up on the counter.  This way, it still looks clutter-free and I can designate a time each week to go through it.

Here are the after photos:

I love how open and clean it looks.  I think I will be much happier cooking here now.  

* Please note the entryway fail in the background... remember day 2 when I put up those 3M hooks because the Marshall's ones weren't going to work?  Well, guess who needs a lighter purse?  One out of three hooks remain.  Maybe in November I'll do a 30 days to fixing all my October fails challenge.

Oh how the mighty have fallen... that little hook was no match for my mammoth of a purse.

Moving along... this space had no excuse... I was just being lazy.  I basically just put everything away.

Ding After.  Ready to play now.

I'm really excited to test out the "collection" basket and see if it can keep the counters clutter free.

What's the one thing that seems to keep creeping back onto your kitchen counters?  Have you had any challenge "fails" yet?



The Clutter Free Challenge Day 9: Dining Area

This is where it gets real y'all... it's day 9 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge and it's all about the dining area.

We have a beautiful counter-height table that was our first substantial purchase as a married couple.  We now also own a "real" couch; yay for adulthood!  To be fair though, each took a couple years to save up for.  That's besides the point; back to the beautiful table... or should I say staging surface, because that's what it gets used for most.

In my dream world, my husband and I would sit down every evening to a lovely candle-lit dinner at that table with smooth jazz playing in the background.  In my real world, however, when my husband and I are both home and hungry at the same time, we end up eating at the kitchen counter... no smooth jazz.

The gorgeous table has, consequently, become a staging platform for various projects and or piles of things to sort.  I want my table back!  Today I fight the good fight to free the table!

The goals for today's challenge are to put things back where they belong, clear the surface, and create dedicated storage spaces.  There are a few more goals for those with actual dining rooms.  Our apartment is one big room, a bedroom, and a bathroom... so you will start to see some overlap in the photos.

Here are the before photos:

Oh geez, here we go... Some fabric bags, my sewing lamp/caddy, a giant lantern, a lamp, a bin of things to sort with random papers and a blonde wig (yes, a blonde wig) on top, some toys that belong at my in-laws hiding in the back, and a really ironic chalk-board sign right in front... sometimes you just have to follow the signs... he he... he.

Dingo Before.  She says she won't look at me until the table is clear.

I put my sewing lamp and the bags in my "craft corner," although it looks more like a "something that rhymes with craft" corner... another day for another hot mess.  I am testing out the lantern in the living room.  The other lamp went to the bedroom because I didn't have a light on my side of the bed.  The toys will be going back to the in-laws.  The bin is being sorted, the papers got dealt with, and the wig went in my dress-up box.  Lastly, the sign went back to its rightful place on the wall.

Here are the after photos:

Da da da daaaaa!  Glorious!  I guess I should think about decorating or something, now that there's room.

If anyone is curious, the table is from Hawks Prairie Home Furnishings.  I don't get anything for posting their link, I just think they are amazing... great products, great customer service, the end.

Dingo After. She says I did a good job.

Eventually, I would like to actually have meals at the table, but for now it's just nice to see it clutter free!

Do you have your meals at the table, or are you more of a counter eater?



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Clutter Free Challenge Day 8: Junk Drawer

While I had high hopes that I would be diligently checking off each day actually ON the day it was assigned, that doesn't seem to be happening... so my new approach is to just keep on truckin' and get them done as I am able...

Which brings us to MY day 8 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge... tackling the dreaded JUNK DRAWER!  To be fair, I had done a junk drawer over-haul a few months ago, so it really wasn't as bad as it could have been.  Our main junk drawer is in the kitchen, and that is the one I sorted out today.  The other one is my husband's and he gets to do whatever he wants with it... which is why I try not to look in there too often 'cause it's cray-cray.

The goals for this challenge are to only keep items that are currently useful, in good working order, and don't belong somewhere else.

Here are the before photos:

I bought these clear plastic drawer organizers from Target a few months ago, and I LOVE them!  There are definitely some items that could live somewhere more practical than in a kitchen drawer... garden twine, anyone?

Dingo Before.  Not amused by the state of the drawer.

I took evereything out, wiped out the drawer and the organizers, and got to sorting!  The only thing I didn't do was label everything, because I couldn't think of a good way to attach them.  If you have any ideas, please leave me a comment.  I would like to fix that later.

Here are the after photos:

I like being able to see where everything is.  Most of these things don't have duplicate homes, although I do like to keep scissors and pens in every room.  I left a few compartments empty for now.

Dingo After.  Still not amused, but at least making eye-contact.

I love being able to open a drawer and know exactly what I will find and where I will find it.

What's the most strange thing you keep or have found in your junk drawer?



Friday, October 10, 2014

Clutter Free Challenge Day 7: Toys

Hello friends!  It is day 7 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge and today we are working the toy scene.  As you may know, my husband and I don't have any human children of our own; we have a Dingo baby.  However, we also have three nieces and two nephews... and consequently, a toy basket.

I had recently done a mini-purge and attempted to maintain order with a few tupperware containers and gallon-sized zip bags.  The toys behaved very well on their own and stayed in their respective places, but when the kids came over, chaos ensued.

I realized that my system wasn't working.  I had too many toys crammed into each container and too many toys free-ranging... I had made it too difficult for the kids to put the toys away.

The goal for today is to weed out toys that aren't in good condition or that don't actually get played with, and organize them by type in a functional way.

Here are the before photos:

The giant, over-flowing, toy basket.

That funky-looking monkey on the top is "Wink."  He was my childhood buddy and, as you can tell, he was loved.  I decided to keep him elsewhere because the kids don't play with him anymore.

Dingo Before.  She is supervising.

I know, the assortment is random.

This was my initial attempt at creating order.

I tried to pare the toys down to only the ones that were better quality and that I had seen them play with.

I used the gallon-sized zip bags with the sliders because I wanted to make it easy to get the toys out AND put them away.  I labeled each bag with a Sharpie.

I tried to refrain from stuffing too many items into one bag, even though I think fewer bags looks nicer.  Too many items makes the bags more difficult to fill and close.  I want to make it easy for the kids to put the toys away, because I want them to... put the toys away.

Here are the after photos:

Maracas, green airplanes, and felt fruit... a recipe for a party, I say!

I got this 56 gallon bin at Target for under $5.

Everything fit nicely, with enough room for the kids to find what they are looking for without taking everything else out to get to it.

Dingo After.  I'm not so sure about her supervising skills.

As I mentioned in my day 4 post I decided not to keep the toys in the living room, which is why I put them in a bin.  I put it in this attic-like storage space we have.  It will be easy to get the bin out when the kids come over, but will leave the living room clutter-free in the meantime.

What's your favorite toy storage solution?



Clutter Free Challenge Day 6: DVDs & Video Games

Oh, the DVDs!  It is day 6 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge.  Today is the day we sort and organize all those DVDs and video games we have in a jumbled mess somewhere.

I lucked out a little today because we don't have any video games.  That said, we do have a decent stash of DVDs that needed some attention.

Here are the before photos:

I love this vintage phonograph table a girlfriend gave me... but it hides a dirty little secret...

Surprise!... clutter!  On the left are various DVDs we own, and a few that we borrowed.  On the right are two CD books full of CDs and one I keep DVDs in.  Clearly, I have a few more to put in there.

Dingo Before.  She's smirking because she knows about the secret.

First, I pulled everything out of the table and sorted the DVDs into piles.  Then I dusted, because that needed to happen.

DVDs to keep, DVDs to give away or back, DVD sets, and my husband's school-related DVDs.

I pulled all the paper inserts out of the DVD cases.  Then, I cut the front image with the movie title out of each one to fit inside the CD book with the DVD.

My little Fiskars paper cutter made cutting out the images fairly quick.

Talk about space-saving!  Empty cases on the left and, my much smaller, stack of DVDs with inserts on the right.

I put them all in the DVD book in order of genre and then put everything we are keeping back into the table.

Here are the after photos: 

On the left are a few sets we kept in original packaging because it was small, my husband's school DVDs, and the DVD book.  On the right are the CD books.

Dingo After.  She is laughing because the secret is out, but I don't care because everything is in order now.

I used to keep all my DVDs in their cases and was constantly trying to find a good storage solution.  When I finally came up with the idea to keep them in a CD book, I couldn't believe how much space I saved.

Do you hang on to DVD cases?  What's your favorite DVD storage solution?



Clutter Free Challenge Day 5: Books & Magazines

Here we are on day 5 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge and the intent for today is to purge, sort, and arrange our books and magazines in an orderly an deliberate way.  I have to admit that books and magazines are a weakness for me and I have a million justifications as to why I should keep each one.  Today, I am determined to be strong!

Here are the before photos:

Books and foolishness stashed in the bedroom.

More foolishness in the bedroom.

Kitchen craziness.

Sometimes, you want to check out a recipe while you are studying for your A&P...right?

Living room clutter.

Dingo Before.  She has decided that because she can't actually read, she doesn't need to be involved in this challenge.

I did donate some books during this process, but I also put some in storage for when we have more shelf space available, because books are something I really value.  However, I did try to be intentional about what I kept.

Here are the after photos:

I moved the bookshelf from the bedroom to the living room.  It was nice to have the room to add a few photos and candles... the awesome Lego flag was a birthday gift from my 8-year-old nephew... and I love it!

Dingo After.  It's so hard to stay awake when there are lots of books involved.

Are books difficult for you to get rid of?  What is your favorite magazine?



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Clutter Free Challenge Day 4: The Living Room

Day 4 of the 31 Days to a Clutter Free Life Challenge is here and it's all about shaping up the living room.

Today we are challenged to take an honest look at our living space and remove all that isn't currently useful, in good working order, and that we don't love and want to see daily.

Here are the before photos:

Um, yea... not terrible, but also not a space that I look at and sigh in peace.

On the far wall is a stack of red IKEA crates, that I don't love, full of books and topped with a basket of toys.  "Why do you have two lamps in the same corner," you ask?  I would also like the answer to that question.  On the couch are some spring/summer pillows that should be stored and a couple of pillows that came with the couch that I don't like.  There are also some place-mats tucked behind the cushion, because you never know when you might need one...?  On the table is some random clutter and a laptop.  And then there's the leaning tower of blankets.  We top this room of with a Dingo bed and blanket.

Dingo Before.  She is tired of the living room clutter.

I took the crates away because I don't love them and they weren't very functional for what I was trying to use them for.  I may paint them and try to use them somewhere else.  The basket was a gift I actually do like and will keep, but we don't really need to keep toys in our main living space, so I moved it.

I moved my husband's laptop to his new "office" area and returned the random clutter to it's proper home.  Then, I ruthlessly weeded out that massive pile of blankets and pillows.

All that remains of the leaning tower of blankets, ready for donation.

Here are the after photos:

Aaaah, so much better!

I moved the little electric wood stove from Home Depot that was hiding in the corner to the far wall, and moved one of the Target lamps to the other side of the couch.  The much more reasonable blanket bin is from Marshall's.

I don't remember where I got those pillows... probably Marshall's, Target, IKEA, or World Market... and probably on sale or clearance.  Dingo's bed is from T.J. Max.

Dingo After.  I think she approves.

I like that my living room feels much more peaceful.  I don't know why it took me so long to simply remove the things I don't love.  I am learning that I would rather have fewer things around me, but enjoy the things I do have.  Now I will be much more deliberate about what I bring into my living space. 

Do you ever hold on to things because you don't have something to replace them with?