I spent the last couple of weeks up in New England with my BFF, Leigh. Leigh’s house is magazine-worthy gorgeous. She does everything herself (with all the labor supplied by her wonderfully willing husband, Bill), from kitchen and furniture design to decorating. She is an amazing little fireball of energy and creativity. I love being up there, because it’s a retreat from my cluttered house of chaos.
While I was gone, I realized that if I came home and everything was gone (besides my luxury yarn…people would die if anything happened to my luxury yarn!!!), I would have no idea what was missing. Matt had joked that he was going to throw everything away while I was off at Leigh’s. Next time, I might take him up on that.
A few days ago, I somehow got sucked into Pinterest; not sure how that happened, as I try to avoid it. It’s sort of like that scene in Interstellar where every hour they spend on the planet is seven years on earth because of the gravity well. Every minute on Pinterest is an hour lost in real life, or at least that’s how it seems. Anyway, I was browsing through my “Pins For You” page and found a link to Home Storage Solutions 101. It is a life altering page that I highly recommend.
As anyone with clutter can tell you, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Looking at a room of disaster is overwhelming. It causes me to immediately shut down, close the door, and retreat to my knitting chair. Yes, I have a knitting chair, don’t you?? However, HSS101 truly is a solution for people like me. She breaks everything down into daily and weekly challenges. Even better, Monday challenges are just reading assignments to prepare you for the challenges of that week, because who the hell wants to clean on a Monday? No one! Daily challenges are a max of 15 minutes (unless you have serious hoarder level issues), so even the busiest person has no excuse.
Obviously, you can do more than one challenge a day, should you so choose. Today is my first day, but I wanted to get the first week of February done anyway. Since today’s challenge is reading, I figured I would take on Feb 1-8. I bribed Matt with breakfast tacos and since he’s still not working, he helped me git ‘er done. Most of those challenges have to do with recipes, although Feb 1 was to clean off the tops of the kitchen cabinets. OMG, what a mess! I tossed a ton of foil pans that I’ve had for over a decade and never used. I found a valentine cookie pop pan, just in time. I put all my melamine Christmas dishes in a garage sale box, along with various vases, pitchers, and teapots I don’t like. I also decluttered and cleaned my kitchen hutch and the top of my fridge while I was at it. Go me!
The challenge for Feb 3 & 4 is to gather, sort, and organize recipes. Feb 5 is to declutter cookbooks. That one was easily done, as I owned exactly three small ones, of which I used exactly zero. All three went into the garage sale box. I use allrecipes.com for just about everything that I haven’t come up with on my own, and even though I tend to modify the recipes from the site, I do refer to it for the basics of various recipes. I keep promising my kids that I will write my recipes down so they can have them, so maybe that will be my personal challenge for February.
We got everything done in about 45 minutes. I put off dusting the cabinet tops until the counters are cleared, otherwise I’ll have a big muddy mess that will make for more work. I stuck a pin in it though, so I know to go back to that part of the task. This evening, I’ll sit down and type in the few paper recipes that I have floating around in my junk drawer. I think the only thing in there that we use is for flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.
Although my kitchen is still quite the disaster, it’s only noon! I had to rest for a bit and I have an appointment with my rheumy this afternoon, but Matt will continue while I’m gone. Our goal is to get the kitchen completely emptied so we can do a deep cleaning. I desperately need a plumber to come replace the pipes under the sink and install a new garbage disposal, but I’m too embarrassed to have anyone come stick their head in that scary spot even if I am paying them. Fortunately, I have a great plumber, so I don’t have to research for that. I promised my husband that I would have all the kitchen repairs done by the end of next week. That and a clean kitchen is his valentine and anniversary present (12 years on Friday, the 13th!).
The weekly challenge is to create a home recycling center and devise a routine to deal with trash. The first part of that is easy, as our city has a recycling program. Everything recyclable goes into a brown bin and trash goes in a blue one. We have two large bins in our kitchen; a black one for trash, a white one for recycling. They get emptied into the city bins every other day or so.
Devising a routine to deal with trash is the hardest out of all the current challenges for me. I am terrible about throwing away mail. One friend suggested keeping a trash bin on the front porch so the mail never comes in the house. That may be the solution, but I am going to work on putting it directly in the recycling bin the instant I bring it in the house, rather than setting it on the table to go through it later. As for the rest of the house, I just need to remind Matt to empty ALL the trash cans every other day, not just the kitchen trash.
Some of you may remember that last year at this time, Ron and I were on the verge of divorce, yet here we are a year later, more happily married than ever. Once we started communicating, he said that one of his issues was how messy and cluttered the house was. Over the last year, I’ve decluttered a lot and we’ve all gotten a LOT better at day to day stuff. But it’s still not CLEAN clean. He’s much happier with the way it is now, but I know it could be a million times better. My goal this year is to get it to the best it can be. We’re about to have our house to ourselves (just a few more months and then Matt is moving to the Seattle area!), and I want it to be fabulous.
Will my house ever look like Leigh’s? I doubt it. For one thing, she has access to things I don’t, since she regularly gets an influx of furniture for free (Bill owns a moving company and gets free stuff all the time). For another, she has skills I don’t have. She is an artist in every sense of the word. I have an eye for color. My hands don’t cooperate with my eyes the way hers do. That being said, I do have one resource…Leigh herself! So while I may never make it onto the cover of Good Housekeeping, I have hopes that this hideous crap shack will eventually be transformed into a super cute cottage with a functional kitchen and a second bathroom. Wish me luck!