Island Watch 2011

This is Elizabeth with Ready Set Simplify reporting. We have been following this story since March of this year. The disaster on Kitchen Island has been an ongoing struggle for its inhabitants.

Here’s a shot of the island we dug up from January 2011:

Here you can see the disaster continuing to unfold in March:

Here’s the situation by the end of May:

But it looks like things are changing on Kitchen Island.  Help arrived recently from Kristen from The Frugal Girl. She knew of the disastrous situation on the island, and offered to help. Here’s the story.


OK, I’m losing the reporter bit, partly because I just really need some exclamation points! (See?)

So my friend Kristen offered to come over and help me declutter. Because she’s super nice, and guess what? She actually likes decluttering. We chose the island for obvious reasons! Kristen is not just frugal, she is a lean, mean decluttering machine!

As far as method goes, I think I would say we just picked up each item and made a decision about it. Seems simple, eh?  For some reason, I just couldn’t seem to do it myself. I think it’s the overwhelming factor. Having a friend there really helped!

This is the recycling just from that day!

And Kristen took these things to Goodwill for me (awesome):

Here we are together! Kristen’s daughter. Lisey gets the photo credit on this one:

If I look a little shocked/dazed in that picture, it’s because this was right in front of me:

Photo credit: The Frugal Girl

Woo hoo!!! Is that exciting, or what?!!

Here I am enjoying my island:

Photo credit: The Frugal Girl

Thank you Kristen! By the way, Kristen posted  a picture of our somewhat spontaneous walk to the beach  when we were finished with the decluttering.

Do you have a daunting decluttering project? Getting help from a friend is one way to get it done!


35 Comments on “Island Watch 2011”

  1. I’m still very excited about your clean island. YAY!!!!!!

    And I love the beginning section of your post. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kristen! So far so good on keeping it clear!! 🙂

      • Debi says:

        You may have already read it, but a long time ago when the kids were little, a friend recommended the book “Sidetracked Home Executives.” Read it, loved it and (to my friend’s shock) started following the suggestions. They really work. AND the book made me laugh!

  2. Chelsey says:

    I need you and Kristen to come to my house! I have a counter (and lakjsdkfjksdf (that’s me mumbling about other locations) that look just like your island.

    I’m curious to know if you had company over with your “before” island or not… I’m in that Can’t Have Anyone Over (chaos) stage… I like to organize, but I’m not good at decluttering so I’m feeling overwhelmed…..

    I need to look at the picture of your island every day and wait for inspiration to strike!

    • I wish we could come and help you! I think it’s so much easier to help someone else declutter than to do it with my own stuff! I have had company over in several forms. My plan was always to have it clear, and I would try, but when I couldn’t get to it, I just had to go with it and say something like, “Sorry it’s so crazy around here!” or “Excuse our craziness/mess.” And of course people are generally very nice about that kind of thing. It makes them feel better about their house!

      At least a couple of times I did the throw-everything-into-a garbage-bag-to-deal-with-later thing. That way you can sort of “pretend” that it’s not so bad, but there are other issues with that method, like actually going through the bag later – Will it really happen? Mmmm….maybe not. Or maybe?

      I would love to hear about it and ecourage you if you make progress!

  3. Nisrine says:


    I found your blog through moneysavingmom and I love it.
    I am also in the process of decluttering the house and organizing it room by room so I needed some ideas, and inspiration (I ll have to keep on looking at your before and after pictures to keep me going 🙂
    I have been working on some organizational projects lately and posting them on my blog.
    Hope you will stop by and check them out

  4. Tina says:

    Yay Elizabeth! So inspiring! My desk which is in my kitchen looks like your island. Perhaps I should go now and get to work on that. Congratulations on a job well done!

  5. Abigail says:

    What a crazy clean island you have! It looks so pretty too. It IS way easier to declutter with some outside input.

    I love the start of this post. Way to rock it out with some creative writing! I too (as you can see) would miss getting to use the friendly and upbeat exclamation point.

  6. Tiffany C. says:

    I love that feeling, when you can see an entire surface! It’s so exciting! And yours is just adorable! I Love that bowl! You did great! And you are right, it’s always easier to help someone else clean up their stuff than it is to do your own. ?????

  7. Cindy says:

    Wow! What a transformation! Nice work! And thanks for showing the real before and after. It’s refreshing to see real houses and the daily struggle to keep on top of them. I often look at the decorating blogs and get depressed about how lived-in our house is, when really, the living in is the great part. 🙂 Congratulations, again!

  8. rvchua says:

    I always visit Kristen’s blog, I think this can be a possible new career for her.

  9. April says:

    It looks FANTASTIC!!! I follow Kristens blog every day and I love coming here as well! It really does look GREAT!! When I tackle a problem spot in our home the next morning it always feels so good to walk past and see it. A breath of fresh air!!:)

  10. WilliamB says:

    Congratulations. Maintenance is (for most people) easier than decluttering. Two things I’ve found really helpful:
    1. Throw out trash & recycling as soon as it becomes trash.
    2. The broken window apprach works: don’t let small things become big ones, deal with them while they’re small.

    In your shoes I’d focus in keeping decluttered areas decluttered, rather than moving on to new places at the cost of letting current ones regress.

    I’ve been curious but maybe not isn’t the time to ask: how’s your fridge doing?

    • Stacey says:

      Good advice. 🙂 I’m not a natural organizer, but I’ve managed to keep my clutter to a semi-reasonable level through forced maintenance rules like these.

      One of my MOST important maintenance rules is the “one-touch” rule for mail (or two-touch if I’m really in a hurry when I check the mail). I’m only allowed to touch the mail once and when I set it down the FIRST TIME it needs to be where it belongs: trash/recycle, bills-to-pay pile, or filed away (or on the fridge if it’s a coupon or invitation or something like that).

    • WilliamB, you are so right about keeping the decluttered areas decluttered. I think I need to post updates from all previous spaces so that you guys can keep me accountable. But it’s so exciting to work on a new space! I’ll try to find the balance…

      I need to do a good clean out of the fridge again. It is no where near what it was the last time, but I don’t want it to go there again! Thanks for asking!

  11. Farm Girl says:

    Good friends are such a blessing! Your island looks wonderful and the inhabitants must be rejoicing. Your photographs tell how happy you are!

  12. Stacey says:

    It looks awesome! So sweet of her to help! I love it when friends do things like that for each other. You have a very pretty kitchen under the clutter. 😉 I’m curious, is Kristen also teaching you techniques & tricks for *maintaining* the clean (as WilliamB alluded to)? I’m in awe of her discipline in this area and I always love when she shares the practical “how-to’s” on her blog (such as cleaning her shower each morning while she’s IN it! lol).

  13. Jess says:

    aahhhh that’s what I need! A friend to clean… I mean to HELP ME clean out this storage closet! Yes!

    Well done! Looks fabulous, and I know it has to be the BEST feeling!

  14. Sarah Godwin says:

    Yay! Glad you got help and got it done. What a great feeling that must be! It looks wonderful. Best of luck maintaining that beauty.

  15. Kimberly says:

    That is super-duper-awesome!! Way to go you crazy cleaning girls!!

    Maybe you should have a daily/weekly picture widget of your island… so we can “keep you accountable.” 😉

  16. Megan says:

    Hey! Awesome! Lots of exclamation points here!

    I bet you won’t even miss Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook! It’s probably full of Jello Molds anyway!


  17. […] status of my island makes a big difference in how my home looks and feels. My post Island Watch 2011 gives a pretty good summary of how bad the island gets – with pictures of piles of […]

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