Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Welcoming Spring and Spring Cleaning and Decluttering Update

Spring is off to a nice start around here. Some much needed rainy weather has finally arrived, and although I love the sunny days we've been having, we definitely need some rain, it is Oregon after all! The birds have certainly been enjoying the cooler weather. This past week the finch have returned, and this beautiful red headed finch was hanging around the garden looking for seeds.

He was so pretty I had to sit and watch him for awhile. His red looked especially pretty among the red buds of my little tree.

Mr. Thrush has been visiting quite frequently, and I finally got some good pictures of his markings. Thrush have the most interesting song, every morning I can hear him calling from the trees behind our yard, their call is very distinct and interesting, here is a link to listen to the varied thrush call (you have to scroll down the page on the link a bit.)

This robin was hunting worms under our globe spruce a couple days ago, the kids and I watched him pull out a rather good sized worm. We all felt bad for the worm, but we were glad the robin found food, and I was happy that my garden, which needed a lot of soil improvement when I moved in, is finally home to plenty of earthworms!

I've been so busy with my big spring organizing project I had no time to post about our St. Patrick's day celebration. Even though we were busy with projects around the house, I still put out our decorations and had a nice feast of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and soda bread, with lime cake for dessert. We all took the time to watch one of my favorite Irish themed movies, The Secret of Roan Inish, it was a fun day. :)

My decluttering project is really coming along nicely, at the end of February I decided to give up 40 bags of Clutter in 40 days, I thought it would be challenging because I actually declutter fairly regularly, but it turns out we still had plenty to get rid of, and it amazes me what an average sized closet can hold! For inspiration in my cleaning goals, last week I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, what a great book! I had hesitated buying it after reading some reviews that felt it was too simplified, but I am glad I went ahead and read it. This book about tidying was quick to read, and had some wonderful suggestions about how to organize, and really simplify your home. Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant, and has come up with a really unique system for going through your home. One of her suggestions is to start with clothing, and to remove everything from your closet, every article of clothing, and lay it all out and go through it one item at a time, only keeping clothing that you really love and use and you feel positive about. So that is what I did with my kids this week, they took turns emptying the contents of their closet into the living room to be sorted.

Like I said it is amazing what a closet can hold! We really thinned out their clothing, as well as their school papers, keepsakes and other things. Since both my kids are young adults, we moved out the last of their old toys, some to charity, and some to be kept for memorabilia (but not too much!). :)

Between all of our closets, we reclaimed a multitude of hangers! I use all black hangers so the closets look uniform, and I usually have to buy a new pack or two a year, mostly because my Labrador Zoey likes to grab any hanger that has fallen and bite it in half as fast as she can. It is the weirdest thing, she can ruin a hanger in a matter of seconds with me right there asking her to drop it! Labs, fun and kooky companions! Anyway, we will not be needing to buy any new hangers for quite some time. I bundled up our extras with black zip ties, in groups of ten, and will store them out in my garage for future use.

My son had set out a Lego toy to get rid of, and it was sitting near my pile of hangers, it looked like some mini hanger excavating project, so I had to take pictures. :)

This week we got rid of eleven more bags of clutter, bringing the total to 32 bags, and that is not including all of the paper recycling we've done, the house is definitely feeling lighter! I have a feeling getting the last eight bags will be pretty easy, next week I'll be heading out to the garage storage to go through my totes and see what I can thin out. We are still putting the finishing touches on the new office layout, and I hope to have it done by Easter weekend. I have decided to continue decluttering after Easter until I have gone through the whole house, I was really inspired by Marie Kondo's book to get the whole house done completely, you can read more about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up through my Amazon affiliate link in the side bar, it is definitely a great book for being inspired to tidy up. :)

Who else is working on spring cleaning this week?

Linking to:
Homeacre Hop
Home Sweet Home
Feathered Nest Friday
No Rules Weekend Party Blog Hop
Think Tank Thursday
It's a Party
Home and Garden Thursday 
Sweet and Simple Fridays

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dining Room Library and Spring Cleaning Progress Report

Another week of busy spring cleaning and organizing has gone by, and I think we've accomplished quite a bit this week. In my last post I talked about how I was re-configuring the layout of our office and dining room to make room for all four of us to have desk space in our office. Our office was home to our library, which consisted of four, rather full, bookshelves, plus a little half sized bookshelf next to my desk. So I decided to remove three of the four bookshelves, plus my little bookshelf, to make room for two more desks. Here is a link to a post I wrote a few years back when I had finished organizing the office bookshelves.

Our old office bookshelves.

Now, I am not one to part with my books, I really enjoy them, so I was only willing to part with outdated books and a few that I was no longer interested in. I was shifting through and sorting piles of books all week long, which was actually pretty fun. Sometimes I forget some of the great books I have and it was nice to be reminded of what I have, and what I need to make time to read. Since I had to put my books somewhere, we decided to move them to our dining room. Our dining room was previously home to my craft cupboard, as well as two smaller bookcases and a hutch that held my children's library, I love children's literature! You can read a post I wrote a a few years back on my dining room craft area to see how it was previously set up. We also keep our growing collection of board games in our dining room hutch, and needed more space to hold some of the new games we have. So I got two new bookcases from Target that have cupboard doors on the bottom half, so we could hold the books from the office as well as properly store our board games. With quite a bit of furniture moving, and lots and lots of book sorting, here is how my dining room library turned out.

I moved my hutch to the opposite wall where my craft cupboard used to be. My craft cupboard is now in my foyer, and my foyer table is under the dining room window. My old curtains were red, and so were my old chair pads, since they were nine years old, I decided it was time for an update, so I went with one of my favorite colors, turquoise. I found the chair pads at Ikea for a very reasonable price. :) I love the new color!

Here are the two new bookshelves. I love the doors on the bottom half, we definitely needed more space for our board games and the bookcases are perfect for that. We found the bookcases at Target for a great price, it was a lucky find, at first I could only find brown, and since my other furniture was already black I had to stick with black. Just as I was about to leave for another store I spotted one black bookcase on the bottom shelf, and then asked if they had another in stock and they did! I have pretty much finished reorganizing the books, with the exception of two of the children's book shelves which I will finish this weekend, and I also want to go through our games and make sure they are all organized nicely, as well as organize the four drawers under the children's books bookcases, which hold small toys that my niece and nephew like to play with when they are over, and school supplies. So still a few finishing touches, but I am very happy with how the dining room turned out, it is so cozy and we are all enjoying it!

Now that the office is cleared out, we have installed the two new desks, and are working hard to finish the office up this weekend. My biggest clutter challenge has always been paperwork, I still have plenty more to organize, but am making good progress. One thing I have always held on to in excess where catalogs. I love looking through them, and dreaming about things I wanted, and some of my favorite catalogs from when the kids were little had pretty art work on the covers that I always felt like keeping. When I talked about my 40 bags in 40 days clutter challenge , I talked about how I was wanting to honor the transition from being a mom of young children to a mom of young adults, so letting go of these catalogs was an important step. I really loved buying Sarah and Joe wonderful toys and books that enhanced their childhood, and these catalogs represented a really fun time in my life. Even though I teach younger children in my Sunday school class still, and look forward to grand kids one day, I decided that I would be more than able of finding great products on the internet, which is mostly what I use anyway, so off these catalogs went to the recycling bin, two whole file boxes full! It seems silly, but it was actually a big step for me, and I'm glad I let these go. :) My tally so far is 17 bags of clutter gone!

During all of this cleaning I decided a treat was in order, it is no secret that I love doughnuts, and when I saw that Krispy Kreme had St. Patrick's Day doughnuts, I knew we would enjoy some. Look at these fun green doughnuts! Perfect with a cup of coffee for a mid spring cleaning break!

Speaking of coffee, Gary and I decided to try one of Starbucks Single-Origin coffees this week, we went with Laguna de Ayarza from Guatemala. Our everyday coffee is Starbucks blonde roast Veranda blend, which we really enjoy. This new coffee is also delicious, a bit more bold than our normal coffee, but not overwhelming, it is pretty smooth and rich, and I really enjoyed it this morning!

So that is what I've been up to this week, I am looking forward to a productive weekend finishing up my office project. Thanks for stopping by!

Linking to:
My Week In Review

Monday, March 2, 2015

Signs of Spring and Organizing my DVDs

I have been busy this week tackling my big spring cleaning project. In my last post I talked about my challenge to get rid of 40 bags worth of clutter in 40 days, leading up to Easter, so far the project has been going very well, and 12 very full bags have gone out the door. It is amazing what a small closet can hold! I went through and did a second look through my closet and decided to purge even more unwanted clothing, and shoes and came up with quite a bit more. Even after I packed away some of my heavier winter wear for the year, I have found my self thinking I should open up that box and rid it of a few more items. It really pays to go back through an area a couple of times, the space it clears up is invigorating, my closet is so much easier to look through now! We had a few days of rain but now our early bright spring weather is back, and it is so enjoyable. The flowers are blooming everywhere!

Every year the ornamental plum tree in my front yard puts out the most pretty pink blossoms, it has become a yearly tradition of mine to go out and take pictures of its blossoms every year.

The crocus and grape hyacinth are popping up around the base of trees, the shrubs are starting to bloom, and I even spotted a very early dandelion! With all this warm weather we've been having, I think it would be wise to get out and do some early weeding this week or we may be overrun by the end of March!

My little patch of narcissus is peeking out from under the still bare and thorny barberry, I think it looks pretty peeking out from the thorny twigs.

Last week we stopped by my mother and father-in-law's house to walk their sweet Golden Retriever, and the cows in the field behind their yard came up to say hi. There were a couple of little ones who were especially cute peaking out at us from behind their moms. There were also beautiful patches of purple crocus all through the garden. Spring has definitely arrived around here, and I am eager to get out and plant my garden! :)

I wanted to share a quick recipe here as well. Since I have been so busy with spring cleaning, as well as multiple activities with the kids, when it came time to prepare food for our most recent church brunch potluck, I needed something quick and easy. We live about twenty minutes from our church and I am not a morning person, so the prospect of getting up before dawn to prepare food was not something I was prepared to do. At the same time, I really wanted to bring something yummy to the potluck. So I came up with a very easy recipe- Bacon Brunch Tots! I got up and baked a large tray of tater tots- one of the big extra large bags, when they were cooked through and nice and crisp, I took them out of the oven, and put half of them in the bottom of an aluminum lasagna sized pan. Then I topped the first layer with shredded cheddar cheese, half of a bunch of cleaned and chopped green onions, and half a pack of chopped cooked bacon. I used a package of precooked bacon, which they sell by the bacon, because I didn't have time to cook up bacon that morning, you could cook up the bacon the night before though and have it ready to go for the morning. Then add the second half of the tots to the pan and top with more cheese, the rest of the green onions and bacon. Cover the pan with foil and return to the oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted. This was a yummy and quick brunch dish that I will definitely make again!

One of my funnest home organizing projects that I am currently doing this spring is organizing my DVDs. I have quite a few DVDs and most of them I want to keep, however, I was starting to run out of room for them all, and I really didn't want to buy another DVD cabinet because that would crowd the living room. So I had to come up with a way to store my growing DVD collection in the same amount of space. At first I thought I would use one of the notebook storage systems like I did years ago for my CDs, but I like to bring my DVDs with on vacation and they tend to sit out while they are being watched or I may want to lend them out and so I didn't want to get rid of the cases. I found myself wishing that all DVDs were sold in slim DVD cases, then I wondered if they sold packs of slim DVD cases, and indeed they do! I went to Amazon and bought a few 25 packs of clear slim DVD cases to get started.

The clear cases have a plastic sleeve on the cover to hold the DVD paper, but since it is a bit smaller I found it worked best when I trimmed each DVD cover by a thin slice on each side. I used my paper cutter to cut a nice clean edge, you can see from the picture above it is only like two millimeters off the front and the back edge. You can see up above in the picture of two DVD shelves, one before it was slim packed, and the other that I had switched the majority of the DVDs into slim cases. The slim packs allow you to shelf slightly more than double the DVDs in the same space! I am only transferring standard DVDs into the slim cases, any DVD that is in a special case like the pretty foil box that covers some of the Disney princess movies, or special multi-DVD sets or anniversary editions I am leaving those in their original cases. This has definitely solved my DVD storage problem, at least for the time being! With Netflix and Amazon Prime I find I don't purchase as many movies these days, but there are still those movies that I just love and really enjoy having on DVD.

This next week I have even more spring cleaning and organizing goals! I am re-configuring my office and dining room. Now that the kids are both young adults, I feel they need their own desk space in our office. Their room's are just too small for desks but they need space to study and work on their computers. Last night Gary and I cut out scaled down furniture shapes to represent desks and bookshelves and such and arranged them on a scaled down room size piece of paper until we came up with a good arrangement. So this week I will be reorganizing my bookshelves and making room for desks. I look forward to posting pictures of the finished product!

Hope everyone has a great week!

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