Closet Makeover

Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has created quite the buzz after her new show hit Netflix in January. I purchased and read the book about a year ago at a friend’s recommendation. While I don’t fully agree with everything Kondo says (more on that later), I do think some of her methods have value and was inspired after reading her book to downsize my collection of clothes.


Like many people I know living in North Carolina, I had the “off season box” of clothes stored under my bed...and then another box of clothes I wore less often in the office closet. Point being, I had a lot of clothes, many of which I never or rarely wore anymore. So my clothes and I had a big heart-to-heart to determine what was actually serving me, and what it was time to say goodbye to. I was then left with only items that would fit in my drawers and my side of the closet.

For this project, I also reevaluated what I needed to store in my closet, and what was the best method for storing them. Most of my items were dress clothes, sweatshirts, and jackets. With several items, like cotton maxi dresses, leggings, and sweatshirts being better stored folded, I invested in a hanging shelving unit for those items. This made for less awkward storage. It’s kind of annoying to hang a pullover sweatshirt! My jackets and dress pants I put on multi-tiered hangers- that is hangers designer to hang multiple items at once. This is great for items I wear a little less often. I also utilize hangers that can hang on each other for thinner items, such as sun dresses.


If you’ve read my past blogs, you probably already know how much I love fabric storage bins! I keep three of these on my closet shelf: one for undergarments, one for socks and stockings, and one for scarves. I have a few command hooks higher up in my closet to hang my hats (I don’t wear hats very often). Since I also don’t switch handbags often, I hang my less used bags on command hooks behind my clothes, storing smaller bags inside of larger ones to maximize the space.


For shoes, I have a hanging shoe sorter for smaller shoes, while I keep some of the larger ones, such as wedges and boots, on the floor of my closet. For easy access, keep more often used shoes in the front or at eye level.


I hope these tips help someone! If you want more help downsizing and reorganizing your closet, drop me a line!


Peace and love,

Jessie

Organizing Your Pets

My husband and I have three fur babies, all beagle lab mixes, which means we have quite a collection of doggy items. As you are organizing your house, it’s important not to forget to keep our furry friends organized as well. Here’s a few tips for how we keep our dogs straight.


Store pet food in an air-tight, easily accessible space. Two of our dogs, Jax and Lexi, spend most of their time outside, so we keep their food where we can quickly get to it once we get home from work: under the carport. A large metal trash can with lid is the perfect storage container to keep animals out and freshness in. Next to the food can we have a little shelf which hold the rest of their things. A basket holds their toys,  water cup, and brush. A clear storage container, like what you would use for your flour and sugar, hold their dog treats so I can not only easily access them, but also tell when it’s time to go to the store. On the hook by the door we keep their harnesses and leashes.


Our younger dog, Guinness, spends most of his time inside, so he has a food station in our kitchen. We have a smaller bin for his food, since he’s the only one inside and goes through it slower. Next to the bin is his water bowl and food bowl, all of which are on a nice rubber mat in case he makes any messes. Any extra treats and the nail clippers stay in a cabinet in the kitchen. I know that sounds like a weird place for the nail clippers, but it works for us, since we have to give treats as incentive for the “horrors” of having their nails trimmed. All of Guinness’s toys are kept in a small wooden bin in the living room, so he knows exactly where to look for them. We keep the dog shampoo and other cleaning supplies under the bathroom sink, so when it’s bath time we don’t have to run all over the house with dogs that are already stressed at the word “bath.”


None of these things are tricky. The biggest thing is to find what works best for you and your pets! Create little spaces for them as well, where they can feel safe. These little things should make your life easier, so you can spend more time loving on your fur babies. Need a little extra boost to getting your life organized? Reac out to me!


Peace and love,

Jessie

Moving Tip #1

Moving is a big change for many people. There’s the new location, new house, new job, new school, new church, new neighbors, and new friends. All this “new” can be overwhelming. But who says the actual process of moving should be? Over the next few months, as we approach summer, a time when many people move, I will be giving a few moving tips!


Tip #1: Start packing early.


So often I see people wait until the last week before the move to start packing. I have even seen someone who did the bulk of their packing on their moving day. Don’t give yourself that stress! Make a list once you know you are moving of the things you will need between now and then. Will the seasons be changing between now and then? No? Then go ahead and make sure all the off season clothing and games are packed up. For example, if it is May, and you are moving in July, go ahead and pack up the coats and sweaters. Box up your sleds and any Christmas decor not already boxed. Any holiday specific dishes or kitchenware (for example, that turkey fryer), can be packed up as well. As you get closer, say a week out, go ahead and pack up any clothes other than what you need to get through the week. You can also pack up the DVDs and board games that are played less often, and the less popular toys. The more you do in advance, the less scrambled you will feel when moving day arrives!


Need help packing? I’ve gone through several moves, including one in an airplane! I can help.


Peace and Love,

Jessie

Clean Cabinets

A kitchen cabinet can be your best friend or your biggest nightmare, depending on how you use them. Have you ever opened a cabinet to grab a Tupperware container and found yourself an avalanche victim? It’s terrifying! The kitchen is the known by many as the heart of the home, as food is a central part to our culture and mealtimes a place of relationship building. We gather there to cook, to eat, to visit, to do homework. With so much time spent in one space, it’s important that it function in a manner that serves us...not crushes us!


One of my biggest tips is to keep items where you use them. If you are a big coffee drinker, keep the mugs in the shelf above the coffee maker or on a hook beside it. Keep the oven mitts in the drawer by the oven. Keep extra dishwashing supplies under the sink. You want it to be a no brainer when you are cooking where you stash stuff. For example, I have one section of the kitchen I have deemed “the baking section.” In the cabinets I keep all my flours and sugar together, while in the large drawers below are my baking sheets, cake tins, and Pyrex dishes. This helps me keep from pacing back and forth across the kitchen gathering supplies that I don’t use as often.


It’s also helpful to keep the things you use the most within reaching (and eye) level. Items you use less frequently can be stored higher up, or lower down. For example, I keep my Crock-Pot and dutch oven in a low cabinet, since they are heavy and I don’t get to use them often. On higher shelves I put lighter items like the hand mixer and seasonal ware. Everyday use items, such as canned goods, bread, and dishes should remain easy  to access. This is especially important if you are short like me! If you have little ones, make sure you also take this into consideration when organizing, so they don’t get there hands on anything that could hurt them.


Another thing that I have found helpful is finding a dry goods storage method that works for you. I personally love my Tupperware Modular Mates. They are clear, clean, stackable, and come in varied sizes. I use mine for everything from flour, to sugar, to cereal, to coffee pods. They are easy to open, but sealed up tight to keep food fresh and critters out. They are a great way to get rid of awkwardly shaped  packages and make the most of your storage space. If you do a lot of baking, you could also opt for some pretty countertop canisters!


I hope this helps you through your kitchen clean up! Have any questions about keeping your kitchen neat? Drop me a line!


Peace and Love,

Jessie

Keeping Kids Organized

I recently had the opportunity to help a family tackle their playroom. The amount of toys had reached a level where the children were not able to enjoy their space, because they did not have room to play and could not find the toys they wanted. This is a common problem, one we had in my house growing up. And the more kids you have, and the wider the age gap, the more toys there seems to be. This is especially so if you kids happen to have grandparents who’s love language is gift giving. I know this was my grandparents’ language! They loved to spoil us!


So what to do in those situations?


  1. Declutter first. Don’t try to figure out where to put everything away before you do this. You will only find yourself  discouraged, and the kids will just create a wreck again trying to find everything! I encourage you to let you children be a part of this process. Encourage them to create a pile of things they no longer play with, or that do not interest them so those items can be given to others who will enjoy and play with them. Make this a positive and giving experience. Don’t try to pressure them to keeping things just because a certain person gave it to them, or because they just got it. If something is truly significant, such as a homemade gift from a favorite relative, store that item in the attic for when your child is able to recognize the importance, and hopefully pass it on to their own children. If your child is too small to help in this process, pay attention to the toys he or she normally gravitates to. They will tend to play with only a few favorite items. When my youngest sister was small, she was content to play with pencils and pretend they were people and rarely played with her actual toys!

  2. Sort the items. Often, this will be part of step one, but if not, make sure you sort like items together before finding places to organize them. For example, baby dolls and accessories, dinosaurs, books, craft supplies… you get the drift. Decide what room these items should reside in. For example, my family did not have a playroom, so most of our toys were kept in our bedrooms. A few shared items were kept in a closet. Craft supplies and playdough were kept in the kitchen, because that was the only room we were allow to use them in, for the sake of keeping the amount of crayon on the walls and paint on the floors to a minimum. Once this sorting process is done, you will be able to see how much stuff you have kept to evaluate what size and type of storage accessories will best meet your needs.

  3. Find your boxes, bins, and baskets. I love uses those fabric cube shaped bins. They fit so nicely on bookshelves or on top of dressers. I have used them for everything from craft supplies, to stuffed animals, to books, to board games. They are small and lightweight, and have the added bonus of a grow-with-you look. In college I started using bins for my socks and underwear, due to limited drawer space. Clear bins are great for little ones, so they can see what is inside. I recommend keeping items in smaller bins so that children can easily pick them up to play or to clean up. If you have multiple children, I recommend storing toys by height. Keep items for younger ones near the bottom, so they can reach. If you have toys you only want the older ones to access, keep them higher up and out of the reach of the little ones. You can also utilize things like wicker baskets that you already own. This is great for stuffed animals, or for baby toys, as they can sit on the floor.

  4. Remember, it’s ok to be messy. One of the questions I get frequently when children are involved, is “How do I keep it clean?” In a quick answer, you don’t.  Life happens, and so do messes. Toys are meant to be dragged out and played with. The key is to establish a pattern of behavior with the kids. If they have a clearly defined play space, it’s less likely the toys will travel across the house. If you have clearly defined where the toys go when not played with, it’s easier for them to put the toys back in place. Make sure you make cleaning a habit. Model the behavior. Let them help you clean your stuff. Give them ownership over their spaces. A great tip I love is to teach them that before they drag out another set of toys, they need to put away what they are no longer playing with. For examples, if you are done with the Playdough and want to play Barbies, you have to put up the Playdough first.


I hope this makes your life a little easier, and play times more fun! Let me know if I can help in anyway, whether it’s through the decluttering process or in the organizing.


Peace and Love,

Jessie

The Lenten Journey

This past Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the Lenten season in the Christian calendar. Growing up, I was taught that Lent was a time for self sacrifice as we contemplate what it meant for Christ to give everything for us on that cross. Many people see this as an opportunity for self improvement-cut out the sugar and few pounds along with it.


While there is nothing wrong with this (God does call us to take care of our bodies, His temple), I would like to challenge you to a new approach I have recently taken to Lent. How about for 40 days, concentrate on something that will bring you closer in your walk with Christ. This can be adding something to your day, such as a devotion time, or prayer journaling. It can also be the traditional act of surrendering something to God, such as giving up swearing or gossiping.


I was recently visiting with someone as they were sorting through a storage box, tossing most of the items in the trash or the donate pile. The woman proclaimed to me that she was giving up clutter for Lent. I later reflected on this, alongside my husband’s Ash Wednesday message, which posed the reminder that all we have returns to ash and dust. What a great reminder during this season to reflect on what really matters! What are you clinging to that distracts you from God? Maybe it’s emotional, like a grudge you have held for too long. Or maybe the physical junk in your life is keeping you bogged down trying to tame it that you don’t have time to focus on your spiritual walk.


I would like to encourage you this Lenten season to take stock of what you have, and what you really need. If you need help, or just someone to walk you through the decluttering, please reach out!


Peace and Love,

Jessie

Meal Planning 101

My husband and I are constantly on the go. Our evenings are booked up most nights with side hustles, band practices, and church functions. And that’s not to mention all the errands we have to run in between and the normal household chores! People often ask me how we do it. Do we survive off of fast food? NO! While this could be very easy to slip into, we have found this to be bad for our health and our budget. In just four fast food dinners, we have blown our food budget for the whole month. We decided to save the eating out for days when we are traveling and have no choice or for special meals to treat ourselves.


So how do we do it? The answer is simple: meal planning. While I know the concept of meal planning is overwhelming to some, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. That’s why this blog post outlines the steps I follow each month to help me stay on budget, save time, and eat healthy.


  1. Identify what meals you need to plan for: My husband and I know that certain nights of the week, we won’t be cooking. For example, we have family pizza night with my side of the family every Monday, and typically on Thursdays my husband has band practice, so I either have dinner with family or eat leftovers. I also know that I am fine eating cereal each morning, and that we stick to sandwiches or leftovers for lunch each day. You can plan this out a whole month at a time, or by a week or two, depending on how you budget your shopping. I find it’s easier for me to do it by the month so I only have to make on big shopping trip each month, and then can just make short runs for fresh produce, milk, and bread.

  2. Make a list of recipes your family likes to eat, or recipes you would like to try out. Make sure to consider the length of time it takes to prepare each meal in comparison with the average amount of time you have for cooking. You don’t want too many labor intensive recipes if you find yourself constantly on the go, but you may be able to work one in for Sunday dinner.

  3. In your list from point one, fill in the meals you included in your recipe list. I usually try vary meat and flavor types. Theme nights can be helpful too! Tuesday nights are usually pasta nights for us because we have less time to cook. Make sure to plan your side dishes as well! This does not have to be anything crazier than microwaving rice and opening a can of green beans. Make sure to also consider which dishes make a lot of food. My husband and I usually deem Sunday as “leftover day” to clean out the fridge. Also, don’t feel the need to eat a different meal each day for 30 days! You can rotate recipes every few weeks, or fix an items with a different type of seasoning to mix it up.

  4. Make your shopping list. Look at your meals you have planned and compare with your pantry. See which staple items you need to restock on, as well as what items you need specifically for recipes. I also like to use Ibotta as I’m planning my shopping list to see if there are rebates on any of the items I need to buy--but don’t fall into the trap of buying things you don’t need!

  5. Get shopping and cooking!

I hope this helps! I would also suggest finding a great planner, if you don’t have one already. I love my Dream Planner by Horacio Printing, because it have a dot grid for each week, where I put my meal plan. A dry erase board can make tracking the weekly menu easier as well. See my blog post on command centers for more information on how to use this to your advantage!


Happy cooking!

Jessie


Keeping Everything in It's Place

As we say goodbye to the holiday season, I have been reflecting on how this whirlwind time of year can impact our day-to-day lives. With the holiday season comes the stress of cleaning house for all the guests coming through the doors. From Christmas parties, to family gatherings, and just getting ready for the influx of new toys and gifts, it can be overwhelming to think about keeping things straightened up! Thankfully, I have pretty much gotten this part of the holidays down to a science. Keep reading to see my top tips for keeping things spic-and-span during the holiday season.


  1. A Place for Everything: You have probably heard me reference this rule before. Every item in your house should have a home base, a place where you know it goes when not in use. Ideally, you keep it where you use it, and if you don’t use it, you let it go. This goes for anything from toys, to the dog’s tennis balls, to bills, to coats, to unwrapped gifts. If you have established this in your home, you have already completed the first step to sanity during the holidays!

  2. Establish an end-of-day clean-up routine: This step is a great reminder not just for the holidays, but year round! Every night near bedtime while my husband is showering and taking the dog out, I have a few things that I do to leave a clean slate for the next morning. Each night I wash up the dishes and wipe down the counters. If I have to leave a couple pots soaking, I don’t feel bad. I usually have time in the mornings to wash these if I let the soak real good first! I then take a few minutes to walk around the house putting up what my dogs and husband drag out. Dog toys go in the toy bin, recycling gets carried outside, sermon writing materials go back on the shelf, throw pillows get fluffed on the couch, and shoes go back to the closet. Even combined with dishes, this usually only takes me 10-15 minutes to straighten up and it leaves me feeling positive and relaxed to see everything where it goes. You can even take this routine further and get the family involved. My husband often tag teams dishes with me if I’m still washing up after he finishes his shower, or he’ll take out the recycling with the dog. I’m still trying to train the dog to clean up his toys...maybe someday!

  3. Clean as you go: This is one of my top tips, particularly when preparing for a party. I recently did a ton of baking in preparation for a party, using a huge quantity of dishes and bakeware in the process. It would have been a nightmare to wait to the end to start cleaning up after myself, plus the other tidying up I needed to do around the house. My secret: I use the bake time to wash dishes and clean the bathrooms. Most cookies take about 10 minutes to bake, so everytime I threw another batch in the oven I would do a sink-load of dishes, target a room, or prep another batch of cookies. By the time I finished baking, the only thing I had left to do was to wipe down the counters and sweep the flour off the kitchen floor!


I hope these tips help in your day-to-day life! If you still feel overwhelmed trying to navigate the clutter and find a place for everything, shoot me an email! I am here to help!


Peace and Love,

Jessie


Command Centers

Let’s face it: life is crazy and we need a little help keeping track of everyday items and tasks. Enter the command center. Command centers are great. They are a space that helps you keep track of upcoming events, to-do lists, shopping lists, bills to pay and much more. They can also be a station to store items you need daily, such as jackets, purses, keys, and leashes. The real beauty of the command center is that you can build it according to what your needs are and where you need them. You might even divide the areas up.

 

As stated above, command centers should be designed for your family’s needs. I am going to use my system as an example, but believe firmly you need to figure out what you need most in a command center. My command center is divided into two main areas: the entryway and the refrigerator. My entryway has a great shelf with hooks perfect for coats, leashes, purses, and keys. From there, we flow into the kitchen. The refrigerator is home base. Here I keep track of all those major events coming up and track groceries. My favorite thing is magnetic clips. Using these, I hold up our family calendar, wedding invitations, shopping lists, upcoming bills, and our monthly budget reminder. At a glance, I can see what needs to be on my radar and can easily clean it off or add items. It’s also easy to grab the invitations for directions and registry information, or grab the shopping trip for a quick Walmart run. I also keep a small whiteboard on the counter beside the fridge to do my meal planning reminders.

 

The bottom line is to find the best space to fit your needs and decide what it most helpful to have in that space. A command center can really help your everyday life run smoothly. I swear it keeps me from losing my head sometimes! Need help figuring out what works? Fill out the contact form on my website and I would love to chat with you about how I can help you get and stay organized!

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage...

We all know how that rhyme ends. As describe working the “wedding circuit” and how we are finally done with weddings, at least for a while, the most common response I receive is “Next you will be traveling for babies.” While we probably have a little while before all our newly-wed friends start having little ones, I do have a few friend and family members expecting. And with a pregnancy or a new baby, there is yet another influx of items, as all the shower gifts float in. It’s like your wedding all over again, except this time it’s a Diaper Genie you are crossing your fingers for, not the Keurig! (Though you might need that too, once the baby is born!)

 

There is enough going on with a new baby that you shouldn’t have to worry about the clutter all those items bring in. So how do you tackle things before your little one enters the world? While I might not have my own kids yet, I am the oldest of seven children and familiar with the changes that happen with a new baby. Here are some tips and pointers for preparing for and receiving all those gifts.

 

  1. Research Products. By this, I don’t just mean find out which car seat has the best safety rating. Talk to other moms. Do they actually use their baby buggy or bassinet? Sometimes it is better to register for items that will grow with your child. Many people practice baby wearing now, so you may not need a stroller until your baby is old enough to support its head anyway. I’ve found that “umbrella” strollers are amazing. The fold up super small, ready to go anywhere! It’s also good to think about whether you would actually use something. Some people love their changing table, while others never use them, in favor of sitting on the couch to change diapers.

  2. Keep items you will use the most where you can easily reach them. Diapers and wipes should be easily accessible. Rather than hiding them in the cabinet of your changing table, find a small storage basket you can keep stocked on your changing station.

  3. Store clothes by size. Let’s face it. Babies grow quickly! You will often have multiple sizes in stock, because one day you will wake up and your baby will no longer fit her newborn clothes. Make life a little easier by storing clothes by size, but still where you can easily get to the next size up. Don’t hide things in another room either. Mommy brain will kick in and you will forget where you put all your 6 month clothes… or that you even own them!

If you or a loved one is expecting or adopting a little one, or recently welcomed a new addition to your family, first off, congratulations! Second, if you are finding yourself overwhelmed, get some help! We are here for you if you need help finding a space for things and creating a functional environment.

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

Top Three Packing Tips

It’s good to be back home and back to work after basically living out of a suitcase the past month. It has been a crazy few weeks as my husband, Joel, and I have been working what I am lovingly referring to as “the wedding circuit.” We have had the joy of being a part of the weddings of three sets of close friends in April and May, all of which a 4+ hour drive away. Needless to say, we have lots of time to catch up as husband and wife, and lots of reading time. We also got really good at packing.

 

With that, I give you my top three rules of packing:

 

  1. Take what you need--and only what you need. (Yes, I am borrowing a line from Joel’s band, Driskill’s song. Check them out on Spotify!) A list is your best friend. Before you start frantically throwing items into your bag, make sure you are remembering the things you definitely need, such as your phone charger and glasses. Take into account the events you know will take place, such as a hiking trip, or a cocktail party and make sure you have packed appropriately. You can always pick up toothpaste at the drugstore, but forgetting your most comfortable pair of dancing shoes could prove very uncomfortable.

  2. Pack versatile items; pack minimally. I try to pick items that mix and match well, knowing that I can be a bit indecisively when choosing what to pack. If I have some neutral tops and jacket that goes well for all occasions, I save a ton of space in my bag. I have a gray t-shirt dress that is perfect for hanging out downtown for some shopping, but is easily dressed up with a pair of wedge sandals and jewelry for a date.

  3. Don’t forget downtime! The biggest mistake I ever make is forgetting that I will have free time. I like to pack a book for those long car rides, or mornings when I get up before everyone else in the house.

All that being said, it was good to be back home! I’m ready to get back to organizing!

 

Peace and love,

Jessie

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed

“...when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2, KJV

 

What overwhelms you? Is it your seemingly endless to-do list or the piles of paperwork waiting to be filed? Or is it how you will take the kids to soccer and ballet, and still find time to go grocery shopping?

 

When our life or home is cluttered it is incredibly overwhelming, sometimes to the point where we become frozen, unsure how or where to start. Often times, it seems that this feeling of overwhelm is actually not caused by the clutter, but the clutter is actually a response to feeling overwhelmed. How frequently I have let my to do list pile up, because other things in my life were causing stress! Usually, clutter and procrastination are symptoms of larger problems.

 

When I was in college and had an exam coming up, I would clean my room. I wouldn’t even touch my textbook if something in my dorm room what out of place. Because cleaning is a good thing, right? Wrong!- At least in this instance. I was nervous and overwhelmed by what I needed to study, so I just ignored it and pretended that cleaning my room was more important.

 

In the same way, sometimes it feels easier to let our possessions pile up and become clutter than to go through the process of deciding we don’t actually need or want something. Sometimes we are stressed by the thought of disappointing someone when we don’t actually have a use for a gift. Rather than confronting that stress, we let it create more stress in the form of piles of junk.

 

These are just two examples. I want to challenge you this week to reflect on what is really overwhelming you. Reflect on how you arrived where you are, and also on where you would like to be. God is the great rock in the midst of our chaos, to whom we can cling to firmly. Seek his peace in the storm. He will guide you through it. And if you need a little help with the physical mess, I am here to help.

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

Beware the Bins

Storage bins can be great. Living in North Carolina, with its temperatures ranging from the 20’s in the winter to 100 degrees in the summer, it is nice to get your off-season clothes out of the way when you won’t need them for months. I love that I can put all my sweaters in a box under my bed, freeing up space for the shorts and tank tops I would much rather be wearing.

 

Storage bins are also great for storing things like all those Christmas decorations you bring out the day after Thanksgiving each year. Why leave Christmas lights up year round, when you can create the special occasion of lighting them for a month out of the year? Or how about those children’s clothes that little Bobby has outgrown, but in another year, Joey will be able to wear them? Just fold them up in a plastic box and put them in the attic until Joey is big enough!

 

Like I said, storage bins are great. However, I think as a society, we have started to use them as a crutch. How often have I not know what to do with a keepsake item, so I have shoved it in a box under my bed? How often do I hang on to art supplies I know I will never use, because I can put them in a box in my closet, out of the way? How often have I held onto clothes I have owned for years, but still cannot fit, just on the off chance that I may fit into it some day? In the end, the storage bin is an enabler. It enables us to keep things we don’t really need, and in many cases, things we don’t even like.

 

I love a pretty storage bin as much as the next person, but I want to issue a challenge: Next time you start to put something in storage, as yourself why it is going in storage, as well as when you are planning to use it. I believe that these two questions can make a huge difference in the amount of things we hang onto. Sometimes less is more. Free yourself up. Need support in this challenge? Please feel free to contact me!

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

When Life Gets Crazy, Get Organized

I had good intentions at the beginning of the week to write a new, helpful blog post I’d had on my heart. Sometimes God has different plans, though. This week has been a crazy one for me personally. If you don’t know, in addition to running Every Sparrow Organization, I also work a full time job. This week we have been gearing up for a big event, which has meant later hours for me and less time to write. So I have shifted my vision for this blog post to focus on how busy life gets and how  organization has helped me personally.

 

I’ve already posted about the benefits of an organized home, so I will skip that part today. See my previous blog posts for more on that! What I want to focus on today is being personally organized and what that looks like for me.

 

The best gift you can give your busy life is a good planner. Find one that meets your needs. My planner literally helps me get my life together. My personal favorite is Horatio Printing’s planners. They are amazing. Coming in both a student mid-year planner and a regular January start planner, they include month at a glance pages, weekly breakdowns with to-do lists, project planning pages, and lots of extra space for notes. My favorite part about this planner is there is a little dot grid at the bottom of the to-do list for each week, which I use to meal plan. My whole month of April is pretty crazy between weddings and work events, so I knew I was not going to have much time to grocery shop. My husband and I sat down and figured out the meals we wanted to eat throughout the month of April and then we went shopping.

 

The point is not to get this planner specifically, but to find one that works for you! Some planners encourage you to doodle. Others like mine from Horatio Printing encourage you to map out your dreams so that you can achieve them. Some planners even have perforated shopping lists you can tear off. I personally like to keep my shopping list on the fridge, but find what works for you.

 

Life organization is largely an experiment, but if you need help getting started, please contact me! I would love to help. Organizing my life has helped me so much this crazy week to find space in my days where I can get what I need to done. I know it can help you too!

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

A Tisket, a Tasket, a Pretty Storage Basket

One of my favorite organizing hacks is to use pretty baskets and bins to store items I use daily. Baskets add a design element to your home, while helping you keep items you need-but would rather not display-out of sight. You can find wicker baskets, wire baskets, and metal bins at Walmart and Target for about $8.00 a piece.

 

Here’s a few ways I use baskets in my home:

  • In my bathroom: We don’t have drawers or shelves under the sink, so some shelves on the bathroom wall hold several baskets we keep toiletry items in. For example, one basket is for items used daily like face wash, lotion, and contract solutions while another holds my makeup and nail polish, which I use less frequently.

  • In the bedroom: This is a great way to hide those little things that accumulate on your night stand. My husband uses one to hold his wallet, watch, and pocket knife so he can find them easily the next morning.

  • In the kitchen: We use a metal bin/basket to hold produce items that needs to stay out of the refrigerator, such as potatoes and onions. I put this the corner of my counter and it creates a dark space for the produce storage, without having vegetables all over my counter top. I also use baskets to hold all the candy we receive at holidays.

  • In the office/ craft room: Baskets hold small office supplies like extra staples, rubber bands, and erasers. I also use a larger basket to hold gift wrapping supplies like ribbon, tissue paper, bows, tape, and scissors.

The best part is the baskets should be used to serve your needs! They are working pieces of art, and perfect if you like a little rustic flair in your home. The important thing to remember is that this is to help you keep things you use on a regular basis handy, not as a catch-all for items you don’t know what to do with. If you need help decluttering and organizing, please contact me! I am happy to help you create a space you can love and love to live in at home.

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

Washed Clean

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

I love Easter. In this holiday, we celebrate God’s great love for us. Though we were lost and separated from our Heavenly Father by our sinful nature, God loved us so much that He sent His only son to earth to die on a cross so that we may be reunited with Him for eternity. Now, I am not a parent, but I am a big sister. I cannot imagine the pain that must have caused the Father to watch His son innocently suffer. But that is how much He loves us! God loves us- loves you- so much that He is unwilling to let us sit in the mess we have created in our own lives.

God never intended for us to stay stuck in the mess of sin. That’s why Jesus was sent to earth. Neither were we intended to stay stuck in the mess of our homes. Messes happen, but we don’t have to live with them. There is freedom in the cleansing. As Paul wrote “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!” When we let Jesus wash us clean, we get a fresh start. In the same way, when we declutter and organize our homes, we are giving ourselves and our family a fresh start for a new season. The best part is, in both the cleansing of your heart and your home, you never have to make the journey alone. Happy Easter! Christ is risen and we are washed clean!

And Two Shall Become One: Creating One Home After Marriage

When my now-husband and I were preparing to get married and move in together, we were hit with a pretty startling reality: we had a ridiculous amount of stuff. I had just moved back from living in Brooklyn for two year and was suddenly faced with the task of moving my belongings, including what I had left in my family's house, into our future home. I thought this would be no big deal, since I had been living in a single bedroom in New York. I forgot to allow for everything I had left behind, as well as all the stuff my husband owned! After all, we were going to have three bedrooms! Wrong.

 

As I gradually carried things over to his house, and we started putting clothes away, it was apparent we would need to do some major purging. We got to work and soon there was a mountain of clothing in the unfurnished bedroom to haul off to donate. Much of the clothes had not been worn in years! We were astonished.

 

We have quickly learned in a year and a half of marriage that there are a few keys to creating a home where both partners can feel like they belong: reducing the clutter, finding things you both love, and compromising.

 

  1. Reduce the Clutter: When you move in with your spouse, you now have double the belongings. Odds are, you have multiples of the same kitchen gadgets, your own towels and linens, maybe even your own furniture. Do you really need two coffee makers? And that's before all the wedding gifts your registered for (and some you didn't) come in! It can be completely overwhelming to look at. It is important to assess which items you actually need and will use. As much as I love Pyrex dishes, I did not need 10!

  2. Find Things You Both Love: It is crucial for both partners to take ownership in their home. Talk to each other about what “home” feels like and looks like to each if you. What colors do you imagine? Are you more rustic, antique, or modern? It is also important to have your personal space in the home, somewhere you might share, but you might get a little more say in the decorating and upkeep of this area. For my husband, his space is the music room. For me, it is the dining room.  The space doesn't not have to be a space where you have a hobby or work. It just needs to be somewhere you enjoy spending time.

  3. Compromise: There will be times you have to pick your battles and agree to disagree. One of you will have a favorite knick-knack you cannot persuade the other to part with. In our house this is the life-sized ceramic Persian cat. My husband loves it (despite his dislike of cats) because it reminds him of a relative. I personally find it creepy and dislike that it clashes with everything in our house. We finally came to a compromise: he could keep it, provided it stays in the office, out of sight.

Marriage can be a big transition, especially when it comes to moving in with someone and sharing your life together. But it doesn't have to be overwhelming. If you are feeling overwhelmed with combing belongings and with the influx of wedding gifts, contact me! I would love to help. I have been there.

 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

Refresh: Spring Cleaning As an Act of Renewal

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

I love this verse! Do you ever feel trapped in a desert? I know I have. There are those days when the well of your soul feels as though it has completely dried up, when everything feels like it’s going wrong, when you feel like everyone is taking pieces of you, but giving nothing back. You are not alone. We all go through those seasons. 

I’m a part of the worship team at my church, and inevitably, every time I feel stuck in one of those deserts, I happen to be assigned to sing Hillsong’s “Desert Song.” It reminds me that even in those seasons when I feel lost and abandoned, there is still and always a reason to praise our Savior. As Isaiah 43:19 reminds us, God has a plan and a purpose. He is a God of renewal and restoration. He will not leave you in this desert season. He seeks to refresh His purpose for your life.

This verse resonates with me as we head into spring. There is an idea of growth and rebirth as the flowers begin budding and the animals give birth to their young. Where do you need a refresh this season? Maybe you need a spiritual refresh. Seek God in his Word and by investing time with Him. Maybe you need a mental refresh. How is your outlook on life? Seek to identify the blessings around you. Maybe it’s a physical refresh. Recommit to eating healthy and investing time in your body. 

Take time this season to refresh your home! Let spring cleaning help you to bring new life to your home. Not only does a clean home feel fresh, but it frees your mind to focus on the area of your life you really want to invest in, the area where you need that refresh. Let us help you find your focus and freshen up your home this spring!
 

Peace and Love,

Jessie

The Benefits of an Organized Home

As a professional organizer, I love how it feels to have a place for everything and everything in its place. There's something so freeing in seeing my home set to order. I recently considered what exactly it is about an organized home that makes everything feel better. Keep reading to find out what I find to be the biggest benefits of a clean home. 

You Know Where Everything Is: This is perhaps one of the most obvious points. When you organize your home, you must first go through and decide what things to keep and get rid of. Then, you must decide where you use each item the most. What is its function? Where does it make sense to keep it? Then you create a plan to find that item when you need it. Looking for your keys all the time? Why not install a key rack by the door?
 

The Weight Is Lifted: Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders as you stare at the piles of papers yet to sort and clothes that no longer fit in your closet? Once you have taken the time to declutter, you will look back at your house and sigh in relief with the weight lifted from your shoulders. Not only are you relieved of the nagging thoughts of “I need to clean,” but when your home is organized, it looks lighter. The whole house opens up when items are placed out of sight.
 

You Have More Time: Now, obviously you don’t magically end up with 25 hours in a day by organizing your home. But in a world where time is money, you do end up with more time to spend on what matters to you when you have an organized home. Think about it--How much time do you spend shuffling through the pile of mail on your counter for the bill that is due? How much time do you waste cleaning the same area, only to find the pile has collected again at the end of the week? When you invest in organizing your space, you can find what you need in an instant and all those items that gather in piles on every surface in your home now have a place--be it in a file or in the garbage. Cleaning your home no longer takes hours how figuring out where to put things and now focuses only on the actual day-to-day dirt collection your dog drags in. With all these time-eaters that add up to waste your day out of the picture, you now have time to invest in things that are important to you, such as Faith, family, friends, education, and hobbies.
 

You Feel Better-Mind, Body, and Soul: Let’s face it. Where we live greatly impacts all of our wellbeings. If your home is cluttered, you risk falling and injuring yourself. Or maybe your allergies act up because you can’t get to all the dust that has collected among all the piles in your house. You become exhausted trying to live in that state, searching for things. You are frustrated that it never gets better, no matter how hard you work at it. You become depressed because the disorganization is hurting your relationships. When your home is set to right, you have an open space, free to move about. It’s easier to clean the dust and germs we bring in daily. Our outlook changes as suddenly we are comfortable inviting friends home again and we have time for what we want to do, to focus on the relationships that we value. It’s a breath of fresh air, a clean slate, a brand new opportunity to be a brand new you.
 

It’s springtime. What a great time to invest in a fresh start! If you want to grab hold of the benefits of an organized home and don’t know where to begin, start here. Every Sparrow Professional Organization offers a free consultation to new clients. Give me a call to see how we can help your space serve you. 
 

Peace and Love,
Jessie