Hot Spot Check Up: Desk! | Week 1

I’ve been checking in on a clutter hot spot each week. I take a picture of that spot and post it for all to see. I just spent 7 weeks on the kitchen island, and now I’m moving on to the desk (AKA The Desk of Paper Clutter Madness).

Tuesday night, I started instinctively clearing the island to get ready for my hot spot post. When I remembered that I was moving on to a new spot, I almost stopped….but I decided to keep working at it even though I wasn’t taking a picture of the island. Yay!

About 6-7 months ago, I did a major desk declutter/clean up/organize session, and the results were great. Some of it has stayed under control, some of it hasn’t.

Paper clutter is one of my biggest clutter struggles, and of course my desk loves to collect papers.

Here’s a picture of how it looked about a week ago:

But you might remember that last week I was hosting a playdate, so I was doing some major cleaning up. Our desk sits right between our kitchen and our living room, so it is very visible. I worked on cleaning it up, but in the end I did not have time to deal with all of the paper clutter, so I put it all in a box and hid it in the basement. Hey, at least it fit in just 1 box, right?

Here’s how it looked after the clean up/declutter/clutterhide:

And now, here’s this week’s picture:

Most of the clutter that was added there this week is actually because the kids were using the desk as their “teacher desk.”

I am planning to go through that paper clutter box. In fact, it is now sitting next to the desk. Feel free to ask me about it if I don’t report back with an empty box.

I hope you’ll join me as I figure out what works and what doesn’t with the desk and the paper clutter!

Other Updates:

  • I’m thinking about a post about the pros and cons of hiding clutter, since I’m becoming an expert on that, it seems.
  • I’m excited to show you some before/after pictures from the playdate clean up sometime soon.

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


Menu Plan for the Week 10/2 – 10/8


BBQ Country Style Ribs

How last week’s menu went:

I moved things around a bit last week. I made the pizza for lunch one day instead of dinner, and added the Pizza Penne Bake (I add more sauce), which has turned into a new favorite “go-to” dinner around here.

Favorite meal from last week:

 I’m going with the BBQ Country Style Ribs.  I cooked them about 1 hour longer than the recipe and finished them on the grill. We all loved these.  The Chicken Tortilla Soup is also loved by all five of us and is a family favorite!

This Week’s Menu Plan


Monday – Celebrating Mr. RSS’s birthday!


  • Hearty Lentil Soup (I add celery, add chopped spinach instead of parsley, and only use 1/2 tsp of the balsamic vinegar – and I like to use turkey bacon, too)
  • Maybe some fresh-baked bread, like this Olive Bread



  • Pizza: one Buffalo Chicken pizza (I use a bit less of the chicken and blue cheese dressing. You must use Frank’s Hot Sauce if you want it to be right) and one regular cheese pizza with this crust (I double the recipe and use 1 cup of whole wheat flour)
  • Raw veggies


  • Easy Lasagna
  • green beans or salad
  • maybe garlic bread (I love garlic bread.)


  • Easy Chicken Enchiladas (I add enchilada sauce on top before the cheese, and sliced black olives, too.) topped with lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and sour cream
  • Chips and salsa

Other Updates:

  •  The MOPS playdate was a success! Things were looking pretty good around here, but I did hide some clutter. Again.

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!

Let’s Talk Laundry: Part 2

You might remember that we were hit by Hurricane Irene recently. We got through the hurricane and 5 days without power/running water without any damage to the house.  (Yes, this is a laundry post. Hang on.)

About a week after that, Tropical Storm Katia came to visit. We weren’t really worried about her. It was mainly just a bunch of rain.

So the morning after the storm I went down to the basement to get something out of the dryer, and when I stepped off the last step, my foot slipped and I slid down to my back in about 2 inches of water that was covering our basement floor. It turns out that our sump pump failed in the middle of the night. So everything that was sitting on the floor of the basement was wet.

Including Mt. Laundry (I took this picture the day before the hurricane):

It’s funny what can motivate me to catch up on laundry. The thought of  a really big pile of dirty, musty, mildewy clothes was all the motivation I needed this time.

So I just cranked through it all.

I even collected all the laundry from all over the house.

From the stairs…

From the kitchen floor sweep pile…

And now we have a cleaned-up laundry area! Those white doors have not been closed in a very long time!


  • If I am able to maintain a mountain of laundry in the basement and still have clothes for everyone to wear, it probably  means we have too many clothes.
  • I need to keep up with my 1-laundry-load-a-day idea better. I said a long time ago that I was going to revise my weekly cleaning schedule. I need to actually do it and use it.

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

Hot Spot Check Up 7: Kitchen Island | Ready to move on?

OK, just for fun, I’m going to use last week’s ‘after’ picture as this week’s ‘before’ picture.

Last week’s ‘after’ picture:

Today’s picture:

Some of the changes are subtle, but I’m pretty happy with how things are going. I’m thinking about checking in on a different clutter hot spot next week.

Maybe The Desk of Paper Clutter Madness?

That could be fun. 

Or productive, anyway.

Other Updates:

  • Still working on getting the house ready for a playdate! I’m making progress…and I’m taking pictures!

Menu Plan for the Week 9/25 – 10/1

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

How last week’s menu went:

I actually followed last week’s menu plan exactly. Woah.

Favorite meal from last week:

I really wanted to pick 3 favorites this week, but Mr. RSS convinced me that 2 is plenty when it comes to favorites, so I’m starting with the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, which I simply adore. I first made it when I saw it in Family Fun Magazine, but when I went to look for it this time, I could not find the magazine nor could I find the recipe on Family Fun’s site, so Danielle saved the day by posting the recipe! And even though I am usually a toppings-kind-of-girl,  I really like this chili as-is, or with just a little cilantro. I did double the beans. I might cut the orange zest in half next time. 4 of the 5 of us like it.

The Portobello Mushroom Burgers were the other favorite. I stuck a big slice of grilled red pepper on mine. Yummy! Mr. RSS decided to double the marinade on these. They had lots of flavor! 4 of the 5 of us liked this one as well.

This Week’s Menu Plan



  • Green salad with beets and goat cheese (I’m making it like this recipe, except I’m using romaine lettuce that needs using up and canned beets from the pantry)


  • BBQ Country Style Ribs (Mr. RSS will likely finish them on the grill)
  • Cooked apples [Edit: I removed this recipe link because when I looked at the recipe tonight, I realized it was way off from how I make these (I should have read the recipe more closely!) I usually use peeled, sliced apples and cook them down in a saucepan with about 1/2 cup water, add a little sugar and cinnamon to taste, if desired.]
  • green beans




  • Homemade Pizza night!  I’ve been using this crust recipe, with part whole wheat flour. I also knead the dough after mixing.
  • Raw veggies


  • Brown Rice with Black Beans (I’m going to add some cumin and chili powder this time.) Toppings: Lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, cilantro)
  • Chips and salsa

Other Updates:

  • I’m having a MOPS playdate at my house this week. I am appropriately frightened. I am planning to clean and declutter every day, focusing on the living room and kitchen. I will not wait until the day before –  no, no, no. There’s nothing like guests coming over to give you that extra motivation! Yikes!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!

Let’s Talk Laundry: Part 1

In high school I was one of those kids with laundry (both clean and dirty) – and everything else all over the floor of my room. I thought it was cool.

Oh yes, I did. I also thought that I knew right where everything was.


I no longer make such claims.

It did get a little better in college and in my single days, mostly because of positive peer pressure from my roommates.

In more recent years I have not done very well. Check out this before pictures from when I cleaned out my master bedroom closet:

For many years I was pretty good at washing the clothes, but then they would sit in a crumpled mess in a basket or a pile on a bed or couch. Clean, but very wrinkled. And do I seem like the ironing type to you? 


I finally got fed up with that nonsense and realized that I should not take the laundry out of the dryer unless I was folding it that instant! So for about a year I folded things as I took them out of the dryer. Big success!

Now I am brave enough to take them to another location and fold them right away.

One of my recent goals has been getting the folded clothes put away! I have clean, folded clothes, usually in baskets, sitting around.

Here’s what I’m working on:

  • I try to put my folded clothes on my side of the bed and Mr. RSS’s on his side, and we each put our own away. That works pretty well when I do it.
  • Ella (7) can put her clothes away – I just need to remind her.
  • Gabe (5) can’t reach his drawers very well, so I need to either keep doing it myself (and actually do it instead of leaving them in baskets), or get him a step stool, or something. The other problem is that one of his drawers is broken and if you pull it out too far, the whole drawer falls out – so we need to fix that.
  • Anna (1.5) All she wants to do is open any drawer she can get to and take everything out. Then possibly cram some things back in. Next, she likes to close the drawer on her finger. She obviously needs some work in this area! 😉
  • Cleaning out and organizing more of the closets and dressers will make this easier.

I’m also working on keeping up with Mt. Laundry, which has become a landmark in our basement…until now.  I  have some great before and after pictures to show you, but I’ll save them for later in the week. Oh the suspense!

What are your laundry successes or challenges?

Hot Spot Check Up 6: Kitchen Island in 7 Minutes

I sort of forgot about the kitchen island post until late in the morning today. I took a picture, but I was determined to make improvements. I just wasn’t willing to let it sit like that today. Hooray for determination!

So here’s my before picture:

I didn’t have time to properly clear it all off, so I decided to time myself for 5 minutes while I worked on clearing it, and then take another picture.

The five minutes seemed to fly by, and I was making good progress, so I decided to give myself 1 more minute timed.

After that, I was still super motivated and really wanted to work on it for just 1 more minute (and that’s really all the time I had anyway).

So after 7 minutes (plus a quick wipe of the sponge), here’s how it looked:

I really need to remember that timer thing again. The timer helped me to stay focused and it helped me to work fast! Now, I can get work done on the island and the clutter that is left doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

How are your clutter hot spots doing?