The Clutter Monster

 

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Guest post by Mary Colwell

Clutter… I hate it! It drives me nuts, and seems to self-multiply like a monster having babies. Piles on tables, toys spilling across the floor, and useful items that have no home…they all make me want to scream.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I can’t really relax when my house is full of clutter!

Perhaps because it bothers me so much, I tend to make a special effort to eradicate disorder from my home. I’ve tried a variety of “systems” over the years, but I’ve found that in the long run, following a few simple rules tends to keep my little corner of the world the most well-groomed.

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So without farther ado, my “rules”…

 

  1. When in doubt, throw it out!

This is something my grandfather used to say when I was a child. I didn’t really understand the usefulness of it until I reach adulthood. Now, it is perhaps one of my favorite sayings. You see, we live in a consumer world, and this world is constantly telling us we need more stuff. I don’t know about you, but the clutter in my home often comes from simply having too many things. They may be nice things, even useful things, but there are too many of them! This little mantra helps me keep my “stuff” in perspective because it reminds me that the things are there to serve me, and if they aren’t doing that, then I need to get rid of them. Getting rid of all the extras will make keeping the rest of it organized, much, much easier. So, take a look around your home and if you find something that you “doubt” you need or will use, than throw that sucker out! Yes, even if it’s a gift from Great Aunt Ethel! And if trashing it makes you feel guilty, than donate it, but either way, get it out of your home. It’s not worth your peace of mind.

Bye bye, salad spinner!

Bye bye, salad spinner!

  1. Love it or lose it!

Now that we’ve gotten rid of the things that aren’t really useful, we are left with stuff we use, but it still may be things we don’t actually like. I find this little ditty is helpful to remember when I have to deal with things like decor items, or kitchen ware, things that I want/need but sometimes don’t really love. You may have things in your home that are currently in use, but that you really don’t like. If that’s so, slowly, as you can afford, replace them. That picture frame that you hate? Replace it! That baking pan that is rusting? Buy a new one and trash the old. Useful things that we don’t love, aren’t actually useful. As I noted above, we live in a consumer society, and that is a blessing and a curse. The blessing part of it is that we have choices in what we use. So if you aren’t in love with the things in your home, then they are clutter, and need to be reassessed.

  1. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place

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So, we have gotten rid of our “doubts”, and we are slowly whittling down/replacing whats left to be just what we love. What now? Organizing those loves and those necessary evils (like bills) so they don’t turn into piles on the counter. That means making places so things can be quickly and easily put away. In some cases, this may mean paring things down even farther. A big area for many (us included) is often kids toys. They might not be broken or out grown (the doubts), and they might be very well loved (aren’t all toys!?!), but if they can’t fit where you need them to go, then they are still definitely clutter. This sometimes means being strict with yourself, or your kids. You might find yourself really wanting to keep more than will actually fit in your house, but trust me, it’s not worth it. An item without a place is a pile waiting to happen. And those piles of useful, loved, things will destroy your hard fought organization. Just bite the bullet and “Let it go…”

You will be glad you did!

  1. The 10 minute tidy
Ahhh....happy sigh!

Ahhh….happy sigh!

Okay, we now have no doubts, have lost our less then lovelies, and made a place for what’s left. The last thing I have found to be incredibly helpful in my quest for order, has been my morning and evening “ten minute tidy” routine. Every night before I go to bed, I walk through my home and pick up everything that is left out. Usually this does not include toys, as my children have a place for all their items, and know that if I find them left out they will be losing those toys for the foreseeable future. But for other things, like misplaced cushions, coffee cups, and left over items from the day, I take this time to replace them. I also make sure my kitchen is clean, and the dishwasher running it’s last load for the night. This way I wake up to a house that is tidy and ready for the day. I also have a morning routine that I try to do after breakfast. (Things like load the breakfast dishes, wipe off surfaces, and start a load of laundry.) This time of tidying means that the house (usually) doesn’t get out of hand, and I’m not tempted to make piles. I find that if my house is neat, than I am more at peace (even if my floors are still in desperate need of a good sweeping!). Now, do I always do follow my routine perfectly? Heck no. I wish I did…my life would be easier. But it IS what I aim for, and that makes all the difference.

Well, there you have it: my personal set of rhythms and rules that help me keep the clutter monster at bay. These may not work for everyone, but I can tell you from personal experience that for our home they have been lifesavers. They allow me to minimize what’s in my home, love what’s left, and generally keep things off the counter and out of the dreaded “piles”.

So, here’s to keeping a tidier home! I hope my tips have helped you a bit. Now, go forth and conquer your own clutter beast! It’s worth the time and effort…good luck!

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Mary is the happily ever after wife to her husband and loving mom to her two children. She homeschools, gardens, and runs her home with efficiency and grace. She enjoys bubble baths, good books, and time with friends and family.

 

On Locking Myself in the Bathroom

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You know how you suddenly realize that between getting milk and juice and diapers and breakfast and toys and refereeing squabbles about the stuffed giraffe and please don’t hit Sissy..WOW! IT’S TEN O’CLOCK…and I just need a minute, guys? And the words coming out just aren’t full of the love and grace they could be…

Don’t leave me alone up here. You know you’ve had those days. Please tell me you have.

It was one such memorable morning that I locked myself in the bathroom, ’cause the 4 year old can open a doorknob, you know. 5 seconds, max, and I hear the pounding little feet coming down the hall.

They try the doorknob; haha and checkmate!

Whispering ensues.

Giggling.

And then I see them: twenty little fingers wiggling under the door.

Lord, help us.

‘Cause I was escaping and regrouping, trying to have a moment to breathe and beg Jesus to make me a kinder mama…

….and they were already over it.

I’m not saying your words don’t matter…they do. Or that we should stop trying to be the best mamas we can be. Reach for excellence!

But at the end of the day, they don’t need a perfect mama. They need a mama who loves Jesus and knows just how much she needs Him.

Even if it’s praying while she’s tickling fingers under the door.

Pinterest-izing the Pantry

I promised the “after” photos today….here you go!

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There’s the wide shot…now, shelf by beautiful shelf:

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Anyone out there like DIY projects? Here’s a really fast one!

So, while I was cleaning out the pantry, I came across this cardboard soda caddy. I knew it would be perfect to help organize.

So I grabbed some craft paint…put on a gazillion coats (and a few fun stickers)….and tada!

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(Insert twirl). 🙂 Pretty cute, right?

What is your latest organizational project? Where do you find your organizing inspiration?

 

Getting My Eyes Fixed

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It was a long day before my feet even hit the floor. You know how the accumulation of sick children, interrupted nights, and busy-ness can avalanche onto your shoulders and knock you right back onto your pillow?

It was that. Except that staying in bed isn’t an option when the hungry preschooler and the toddler with the soppy diaper and the bright eyed and bushy tailed baby put their heads together.

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Sometime after a half a cup of coffee (and I do mean the large mug), I drug a thought out of the shadows and scrawled it onto paper before it could escape.

How do I fix my eyes on Jesus?

In this day. In the midst of an abundance of demands vying for my attention. In the midst of my poverty of energy.

When the tantrums leave my head pounding and the noodles boil over and Superman is called out for another lost hiker and the diapers make the laundry room reek…how?

Hebrews 12 is a blood stirring exhortation, making the statement that the only way to live victorious in this world of distractions and disappointments is to focus clear and hard.

Jesus.

So…how?

Maybe it’s changing the diaper for His sake and scrubbing the garbage pail for Him and always, always in my heart nurturing the restless longing that is for Him.

Because it’s Him that I long so soul-desperate for.

Oh, I forget at times, wandering like an amnesiac in aimless living. But fixing my eyes steadfastly, longingly on Jesus cures the forgetting of my soul.

And when the questions that seep like spilled juice onto a clean outfit damp my mind, I can say, Yes! Yes, I was made for more than this!

And so my prayers bubble up, hot and restless like the overflowing pot, splashing across the pages of my journal, and I confess,

How I claw at the veil of separation with fingers earth-clumsy and swollen with the glut of selfishness, desperate to draw the curtain aside.

That He is the antidote to the soul toxins I so greedily consume.

These moments on earth are only the preface to an eternity of pages.

Will I write His name all over these swift and slippery days, stubbornly pinning my soul’s focus on Him?

Because, fixing my eyes…

…fixes my heart.

Roasted Veggie Quesadillas (Vegetarian and gluten free)

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So there’s this beast I wrestle with.

Every. Stinkin’. Week.

It goes by the unimaginative name of grocery budget.

Don’t get me wrong. Superman is a great provider, and God has been incredibly generous with us. All you have to do is look at my Friday post to see that we have food in abundance!

But geeze Louise! Diapers and real food gets expensive!

What’s a foodie girl to do?

More to the point, what’s a foodie girl with a carnivorous husband to do?

‘Cause let’s get down to brass tacks…meat is especially expensive. And that tofu recipe was a once-in-a-marriage experience that ended with Cheerios for dinner instead.

So, when my fellow foodie friend Carla mentioned a delicious vegetarian recipe, my ears perked up with cautious excitement. Now, the original recipe was for grilled vegetable quesadillas with goat cheese, so modifications were in order.

Firstly, we don’t have a grill. So, roasted veggies it is.

Secondly, for what I am about to say, I apologize in advance. In case you’re one of those nutcases interesting people that enjoy the flavors of goat cheese.

I loathe the stuff. So nix that, please and thank you.

That leaves us with anything-but-plain Roasted Veggie Quesadillas…so let’s get cookin’!

Start with the veggies. Grab a zucchini and a summer squash and dice ’em up.

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Show no mercy to half a red onion. Toss your slaughtered vegetables in a bowl with some sliced mushrooms, and get generous with the oil and kosher salt.

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Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet, and roast them at 425° F for 15-20 minutes.

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Next, pull out your griddle and get that baby hot!

Now, here’s where you can go gluten free by using corn tortillas…or if you’re like me, you can use  regular tortillas. Whatevs.

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Begin your delicious little assembly line with this winning lineup:

Tortilla.

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Pesto shmear. By all means, don’t be shy with the pesto. Mmmmm…

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Cheese.

Roasted veggies.

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Tortilla.

The end.

Now cook ’em till they’re toasty, flip ’em with love, and when they’re all melty and delicious…slice and serve!

P.S. Sneaky hint: I like to sweeten this meal up with taco chips and fresh salsa…because, who doesn’t love that? And it kind of distracts from the whole there’s no meat in this issue. 🙂

My un-Pinterest Pantry

So here’s the deal: my pantry is a hot mess. Desperately in need of an intervention.

And I really want to have some gorgeous before and after pictures, but let’s just say that I’m wiped. We started homeschooling this week (kindergarten for the oldest), we’ve all had colds, and all I can manage is some pretty gory “before” pictures and a promise to work on it and show you the “afters”….after. Say, next Friday.

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Besides, I love getting inside peeks into people’s imperfect houses. In some strange way, I find so much encouragement when I see someone else’s overflowing laundry basket or fingerprint smudged windows. Let me tell you, there’s nothing Pinterest about this pantry!

Please don’t judge. 🙂

I may have mentioned that while I absolutely adore being organized, I struggle with getting organized. So there you have it.

If you want to send over reinforcements, I wouldn’t turn it down.

Brace yourself, girls.

Drum roll….

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In my own defense, I have wonderful helpers (the 2 year old and 4 year old) that assist me with putting away groceries.

So, there is that.

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Pretty awful, huh?

Pray for me this week….

Do you struggle with disorganization? Any tips for keeping it organized?