A little confession about a big box

The other day I was looking for a decluttering project that I could finish in a fairly short amount of time. I had a chunk of time, and was wanting a finished product. I still need to work on the kids’ clothes (and many other things), but I want/need a bigger chunk of time for that. So I wandered around the house looking for the right project.

Here’s where I finally stopped:

This large box of junk is in my kitchen, next to the toy organizer that should be in the basement, but can’t fit because we haven’t gotten rid of our old TV and stand.

I have a little confession about this box. It’s an unfinished decluttering project… from when Mr. ReadySetSimplify cleaned out the minivan. And I already posted the before and after pictures! Yikes! When I posted those pictures I had in my mind that the project was finished. But really there was this box sitting in my house.

This is an example of how sometimes I don’t even really see  or think about the clutter in my house! By the way, Mr. RSS did get rid of a lot of stuff from the van when he cleaned it out. But this box was left.

Now on to the finishing of the decluttering! First I took everything out and sort-of semi-grouped things together:

I got the kids involved and had them put things away and help make decisions about what should stay and what should go. About half of these things were simply put away in their proper place, a bunch of stuff went to recycling (including that big pink blow-up dolphin that has a hole in it), a little bit went to the trash, and these are the things going out the door:

Gabe wanted to give "The Thing" stick puppet that he made to one of his friends. 🙂

See how I already have them in a bag ready to go into the car? I’m trying to be a good girl, and not let them escape back into the house.

And here is the box, being repurposed as a temporary caterpillar home:

Other Updates:

  • My island is now 1/4 covered with stuff – need to fix that before it gets out of control.
  • I did my Bible reading/prayer time and unloaded the dishwasher before the kids were even awake this morning! Yay for progress!

Do you ever struggle with not really “seeing” the clutter in your house? I wonder if it’s a subconscious ignoring?

I’m linking  up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.


Hey, hey, hey! There are menu plans today!

I started menu planning in 2006. I had just had our second baby, I was doing the stay at home mom thing, and someone who was helping us with our budget (much-needed at the time) told me I needed to menu plan because our food/grocery spending was out of control. I think it was around $200-$250/week at that time.

I was pretty overwhelmed at the idea of planning an entire menu ahead of time every week, so I did some searching and started with Menus4Moms. At the time, she was doing a free menu plan each week with recipes and a grocery shopping list (she now charges a fee and has several different plans). It was just what I needed at that time to get started and I learned a lot about cooking and menu planning there.

I’ve been doing it on my own for a while now, but I am not always consistent. Lately, I’ve been kind of loosey-goosey with it and that causes me to go grocery shopping more often and spend more money than I would like. It also can be stressful when I’m not sure what I’ll be making for dinner each night. The disorganization doesn’t help with my problems with wasting food, either!

Soooo I’ve decided that I will try to do real week-long menu plans and only go grocery shopping once a week. I’m also trying to pay attention to what I already have on hand, and use things up that need to be used before they go bad/expire. Oh yes, and I’m also trying to eat healthier and cut down on processed foods. And I’m trying to simplify the whole process, too! Menu planning helps with that for sure.

Last week was my first week, and it went very well! (And by the way I spent about $125, including non-food grocery items, which I’m very happy with!)

Here’s my menu plan from last week, with notes of any changes:

Sunday: Homemade Pizza (I double it and use part whole wheat flour)- one pizza with cheese, and one with pepperoni and banana peppers, raw veggies & dip

Monday: Shepherd’s Pie, cantaloupe (I was going to do a green salad, but didn’t)

Tuesday: Curried Chicken Divan (with broccoli) served over brown rice (my daughter requested this meal)

Wednesday: Hearty Lentil Soup (a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that I modify a little), cherries

Thursday: Tuna Salad Sandwiches, raw veggies

Friday: Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad (see picture above) This was the first time I made this as the entrée instead of a side dish.

Saturday: Quiche and fruit salad Leftover night! (This was Mr. RSS’s idea. He loves leftovers. He’s a good boy. I wanted to bail out and go to Chick-fil-A! )

And now my menu plan for this week:

Does this picture not say "Foodie Blog wannabe?"

Sunday: Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta with Feta (See the picture above: I used free organic cherry and grape tomatoes that we got from an event with Mr. RSS’s work and basil from our garden! ), corn on the cob

Monday: Grilled Rockfish with grilled veggies, brown rice

Tuesday: London Broil Steak Salad  (I won’t follow the recipe exactly)

Wednesday: Roast Chicken, green beans, potatoes

Thursday: West Indian Rice and Beans (new recipe I’m trying), salad

Friday: Chicken salad or BBQ chicken pizza – can’t decide!

Saturday: Leftover night 🙂

Do you menu plan? Making anything fun this week? 

I’m linking up with Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com. Check out the gobs of menu plans you can find there each week!


Where to start decluttering? 7 questions to help you (and me) figure it out

Let’s just be super clear that I am not currently a decluttering expert. I am a person on a decluttering journey. I have a long way to go, but I have been making progress.  Today I have some advice to share as someone who has struggled with clutter for as long as I can remember. It can be very overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

Here are some questions that can help you figure out the best place for you to start decluttering, or figure out what to work on next. I have used all of these questions at one time or another. Often more than one at a time. See which ones motivate you to get started. Or just pick one and go for it!

1. What bugs you the most? Is there an area that is just driving you crazy?

For me:

2. What will make the most impact? Pick a room/area where you spend a lot of time, or the first room when you walk in the front door, or areas that guests will see.

For me:

    • Living room – the first room you see when you walk into our home
    • Coat closet
    • Bathroom
    • Kitchen

3. What will save you time in the long run? Get ahead of the things that make you fall behind. Would you be more efficient in the kitchen if you had a clear counter with  no dishes in the sink, and a refrigerator where you can actually find what you need in 5 seconds or less? Oh yes!

For me:

    • Paper clutter 1, 2 – Too much time spent digging through piles of papers just to find that one very important paper that I need!
    • Laundry/clothes – You gotta love digging through laundry baskets or piles for that one shirt.
    • Kitchen island – Having a workspace ready saves me time!
    • Refrigerator/pantry

4. Is there an area to declutter that would bless someone else in your home?

For me:

    • Car – Mr. RSS cleaned it out the last time, but I know it would bless him if I can keep it clean!
    • Living room
    • Bedroom

5. Is there an area to declutter that would bless someone outside of your home? Declutter and give things away to people who actually need or want them!

For me:

    • Clothes
    • Baby stuff
    • Toys
    • Kitchen
    • Basement – Oh wait until you see more of my basement!

6. Is there an area that will save you money, or potentially help you earn money?

For me:

    • Coupons – sitting around in piles isn’t helping so much
    • Toys and other clutter that could be sold
    • Refrigerator/pantry (wasting food = wasting money)
    • Paper clutter  – This can keep me from paying late fees (Grrr!) or missing a check!

7. What can you accomplish in a short time to get a taste of success? Pick an area you can finish in 15 min. or less. Start small.

For me:

    • Cookbook shelf
    • Bathroom vanity
    • Kitchen counter
    • Pick one drawer or shelf in the kitchen or bedroom

After writing this out I think my next new project will be the kids’ rooms/clothes. That is driving me crazy, it will save me time, and it can bless others!

How do you decide where to start decluttering? Do any of these questions help you? What will you declutter next?


Oops. I did it again. | Learning how often to clean out the refrigerator

Doesn’t it seem like I  just cleaned out the refrigerator? And I really thought I was doing a pretty good job of using the food that was in there. Turns out I was following a couple of my 10 ways to waste food.

If it weren’t for this blog, I would have no idea when I last cleaned it out, but now I can look back and see that it was in April. So it looks like every 3 months is not going to work for me. Boo!

But the good news is that I did clean out the refrigerator, I have a fresh start again, and I have learned more about what I need to change to make it better the next time!

Of course, I have pictures!

Before:

The Process:

I like to do the real deal and take out all the shelves to clean them.

This was a sad thing to find behind a drawer. I’m pretty sure it was maraschino cherry juice. I scrubbed it for a long time.

Food Waste:

I think I’m the most sad about the blueberries. 😦 Some of the cheese is because something leaked into the cheese drawer.

After:

I went grocery shopping today, so it doesn’t look as cleaned out as it might have otherwise.

Those little serrano peppers down there are the first harvest from our little garden. Yay!

What I learned:

* I need to clean out the refrigerator more often. I’m hoping once a month will be enough. Pretty please?

* I need to clean out the refrigerator before and after a trip. Some of the things in the waste pile were there because I couldn’t remember for sure if they were leftovers from before our trip or after.

* I still need to clean out the condiments, gunk, and whatever else is lurking  in the door shelves. We tend to have a lot of condiments. So many that they won’t all fit in the door. I would like to limit the number of condiments to what will fit in the door, so that they are not crowding the rest of the refrigerator.

* I tried a new strategy of cleaning out one shelf at a time as I could grab little bits of time. I thought I would like it, but I really didn’t. I much prefer doing all the shelves at once, then all of the drawers together.

* I know that being more consistent with menu planning and shopping with a list that I actually look at while at the store (unlike today), will help me. I’ve been thinking about posting my menu plans to keep me accountable.

* I need to make banana bread more. And banana muffins. And feed the monkeys at the zoo…

So how is your refrigerator looking? And how often do you think it should be cleaned out?

I’m linking up with Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing and The Frugal Girl’s Food Waste Friday.


We took a little vacation

Going on vacation is such a treat, but the getting ready to go part can be really stressful. It’s taken me a long time to realize how much time I really need to get ready to go. I know that the more I work on this whole simplifying thing, the easier it will get, and ultimately it will not take quite as much time. Here are some snippets of how things went this year.

I knew that I was behind on laundry, so I planned to catch up with laundry 2 days before we were leaving, then the day before was scheduled for packing. That kind of planning is progress for me!

I didn’t get to all the laundry the first day, so some of it got bumped to the packing day. I usually sort all of the laundry on the bed and then pick out which items to pack. It sort of works.

I think organized people must pack directly from their closets and drawers. Maybe I should try that sometime. Like when I’m all caught up on laundry and it’s all organized and put away. That could happen.

I had to get my suitcase from the bottom of the stairs, where it has been living for the last several months leading a double life as a baby gate.

Look at that! We found another area to declutter!

Guess what the fabulous Mr. RSS did to get us ready for our trip? He cleaned out the minivan! We were getting ready to spend about 9 hours in the car, so this was very helpful!

Before:

After:

I actually forgot to take the “after” picture until after the trip, so I’ll allow you to be impressed that this is the after clean-out and after road trip picture. 🙂

I tried an idea I read about in this post over at isavvymom about hanging a bag on the back of the headrest to use for trash. Great idea!

We left for the trip only 4 hours later than planned. That’s progress for us for sure! All of those last-minute things to grab or take care of take so much longer than it seems like they should! Next time I’ll plan more time for all of that.

And of course we had a great time on our trip!

How does packing for a trip go for you? Do you have any favorite tips for packing or road trips?