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


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