A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: clutter

Cat Pee and Clutter Concern: Oh, Grandma’s Here!

My mother came to visit last weekend.

It was lovely. It always is. She does laundry…all the way through! And she buys school clothes, and takes us all out to eat, repeatedly!

It’s so nice to have her here that I don’t even mind the fact that she bought me a book about compulsive hoarding.

I’m not even kidding.

Apparently she heard a fascinating interview about it on NPR and it reminded her of me and my life-long struggle with clutter.

I imagine that some people might get offended if someone came to visit and then gave them a book about compulsive hoarding.

Not me.

Guys? This book is rocking my face off. I always joke about being a borderline hoarder, but apparently I’ve gotten to the point where it’s not a laughing matter anymore. I have so much in common with many people who exhibit this compulsion, it is frightening. But more on that another day. (See? Classic avoidance.)

Instead, let’s discuss a different thing that happens every time my mom visits: my cat Gracie gets pissed. Literally. There is piss, loads of it, in inappropriate places.

So Gracie’s in solitary confinement and I’m In The Powder Room today weighing my options. Meet me over there and we’ll discuss.


I made my kitchen cabinet beg for mercy.

It’s week # 13 in Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge. This week Org Junkie’s topic is “Purge Magazine Backlogs.

I don’t have this problem because me no read too good. But it’s worth checking out Org Junkie’s tips on this topic if you are a magazine person.

It’s also worth the click just to see that she actually quoted LITTLE OL’ ME! Can you believe it? Me! Bearded Iris. What a kick in the rubber parts! I sure do like that woman.

So this week, instead of purging my nonexistent magazines, I’ve been working in the kitchen… again. {deep sigh}

You see, I’ve agreed to host a Pampered Chef party next weekend for my sister-in-law, Teresa. You remember her… the one with the gorgeous hands? She’s just starting out in the wild wild world of Pampered Chef and really needs her family’s support right now, so I said I’d do it. And you’re all invited! {Make sure you RSVP so I can buy enough wine!}

Now, you should know, I am not a huge fan of purchasing parties. They are just so… I don’t know… consumeristic. And people like me with clutter problems don’t need MORE stuff. We need LESS stuff. Duh.

But I thought about a way I could do this for Teresa and still honor my current path. I am going to ask each of my guests to bring a gently used kitchen gadget to donate to a shelter for battered women. All the donations will go into a fabulous kitchen basket for a woman who needs to start over in a new kitchen of her own. Isn’t that a great idea? It’s not mine, although I certainly do appreciate your applause. I got it from Peter Walsh, another of my organizing gurus. He is running a “Declutter for Kindness” campaign to help the family of a teenage boy in Virginia who is the victim of a senseless, brutal beating. It’s a heartbreaking story, but I love how Peter is using his superpowers to help a family in need.

Besides helping others, this will also enforce the One In, One Out Rule to help us stay organized. It’s a win-win.

But also, from a more selfish perspective, if my party guests are focusing on how organized and altruistic they are, maybe they won’t notice my hideous kitchen cabinets. Or the dog-hair tumbleweeds rolling by. Or my nerve-induced B.O.

So yeah… I’m carving away at my krappy kitchen klutter bit by bit to make my house more of a home and my Pampered Chef party less of a colossal embarrassment. Oh the things we do for love.

Remember this area above the kitchen desk?

Wait. It gets worse. Go ahead, open the doors and look inside.

Oooooh-weeeee. How did it get like that? No matter. Let’s fix it.

Well, I followed the Org Junkie PROCESS (it’s really much better than my ROACHES technique) and cleaned that mother out. Man, if I could leave it like this, I totally would:

Next I did something totally crazy. I’m talkin’ straight-up rubber-room, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ca-ra-zay. You’re not going to believe this, but I moved my cookbooks INTO the kitchen.

For reals.

I had been sloppily storing them in the basement (WTF?) on a gorgeous wrought iron shelf that I bought two houses ago and don’t have room for anywhere better.  You would think running up and down the stairs every time I need a cookbook would be a good thing for the old rump roast, but my brother still calls me “Saddlebags.” Butt-munch.

The hardest part (for me) about this whole decluttering process is that it is such a can of worms. You start working in one spot, then you have to “make room” somewhere else for the stuff you decide to keep, and then that other spot becomes a mess… and so on and so on. Like a domino effect of CRAP. Pretty discouraging at times.

Well I managed to make room for some of the less-frequently used things from the kitchen cabinet, in the dining room buffet, which had been previously storing school supplies (again, WTF?), but then I needed to find a new home for those. And, oh… I seriously need a margarita. And it’s Lent. And I’m on the wagon. And shit, this is hard. No wonder I’m living in squalor.

But I stuck with it and I conquered that som’bitch. Oh yeah. That cabinet is calling me Daddy and fetching my slippers right about now.

Drum roll please….

Let me open it up so you can get a better look-see:

Isn’t that better? The biggest change is the two baskets: one for me, one for my husband, The Gatekeeper. The baskets corral all the little clutter that we need easy access to like sunglasses, wallets, etc. What a difference.

Then I chose just a few of my favorite things to display: a flashy green $2 vase from Goodwill that I use all the time and some handmade pottery by the kids…

Nature Boy made this in preschool. I broke it into a million little pieces once, but The Gatekeeper glued it back together for me. He's da bomb. I like a man with a slow hand.

Nature Boy and Mini-Me made these for us at camp last year. They rock my world. The colors and big handles are fabulous.

...and look what's inside! A clay cheetah and clay piggie! So stinkin' cute & fun with every sip.

I totally forgot how much I loved those three little things. It’s hard to appreciate the stuff that really matters when it is buried under so much clutter!

And as for the other side…

I decided to move my tacky school calendar to the INSIDE of the cabinet instead of the outside of the pantry door thanks to one of my wonderful readers and commenters who told me two weeks ago that she keeps a baggie for those “evil Box Tops” taped inside her cabinet door so it’s close but out of sight. Simply brilliant. Thanks, Connie!

So that’s it. One more project down, 39 to go!  See you next Saturday at my Pampered Chef party, right?

Your friend,


PS – To catch up on my previous 52 Weeks projects, click here.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Dining Room Make-Under

Time for my weekly update on the 52 Weeks of Organizing project!

Can you believe it? This is already the end of week #8! Time sure flies when you’re gradually getting your sh*t together.

This week Laura challenged us to keep flat surfaces clear…a never ending battle for a gal like me. But last week I was so inspired by Ally’s Grandma who had posted before and after pictures of her dining room table, that I thought I’d tackle the same room in my own domestic prison. Oops! Did I say that out loud? I mean, house. Silly me.

My dining room is the first room you would see if I actually invited you into my house, which I’d never do, since it is such a friggin’ mess. But even if I didn’t open my front door all the way, you’d still get a peek at this room from my front porch if you were a Jehovah’s Witness or a pesky neighbor looking to borrow a cup of sugar. And that is pretty much all you’d need to see to know that there is something very very wrong with me.

Three weeks ago my mom came for a quick visit, and while she was scrubbing my toilets (out of love, horror, and pity), I was guilted into cleaning off the dining room table. It only took me an hour or so and by the time I was done, it was spotless. No big whoop. But that is not the problem.

One week later, while my kids were making their Valentines, the table magically morphed back into its natural state… a craft table/dumping ground/mail center/pet lounge:

Nature Boy and Gracie making Valentines in the dining room.

Here are a few more “before” shots (with a variety of angles and lighting), just so you can get the full picture of the cra-zay:

The view from my front door... so warm and inviting! Why yes those are slightly worn Pull-Ups on the stairs. So what?

Christmas village... still up Feb. 24th; extra car seat/purse holder; overflow pantry items.

So yesterday I spent another hour and put everything away where it really belongs (kinda). I even enlisted my husband’s help in packing up the last of the Christmas decorations. Note to self: must do that more often — delegating rocks! And today, drum-roll please… the room looks like this:

And this:

And this:

Ahhhhhhhhhh. So much better. Now let’s see how long I can make it last this time. Only, now how will I keep the Jehovah’s Witnesses away?! I can’t just crack open the door and pretend to be so overwhelmed anymore. Maybe they won’t want to come in if I open the door looking like this:

Really? You want to sell ME something? That's funny... I was about to tell you the exact same thing!"

Or this:

"Oh hello! DO come IN! I was just about to watch some Jeopardy... would you care to join me?"

Don’t think I won’t do it. I’m a bored crazy housewife lookin’ fer love in all the wrong places.

Anyhoooo…Laura challenged us to ponder the following questions this week:

1.  Do cluttered surfaces make you a little crazy? My answer: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Am I crazy because of the clutter, or do I have clutter because of the crazy? Deep thoughts. I will say that having clear surfaces (for once) makes me feel much better about my house and my life. It makes my husband and kids happier too. Bonus points.

2.  Are you managing to stay on top of your 52 weeks list? My answer: surprisingly, YES! This is our eighth week and I have completed 8 projects. Yay me! So far, I have organized my pantry, my linen closet, my coffee table drawers, my kitchen island, my kids’ DS cartridges, my kids’ Legos, my kitchen window sill, and all the flat surfaces in my dining room. AND, so far I have managed to keep all of these areas looking fabulous and uncluttered, except the kitchen island and the kids’ Legos. Statistically speaking? Not bad progress.

3.  Are you being motivated by your successes yet? My answer: a resounding YES!!! Each of these little successes is compounding into a true sense of accomplishment. I’ve never stuck with any kind of a program like this before, so I am very impressed with and motivated by the changes I’m seeing in my house, my routines, and myself. Eight down, 44 to go.

Only one problem…

as I’m decluttering and putting things away, I’m noticing that I tend to just move things around instead of making decisions about what to really do with them for the long term. Laura, The Organizing Junkie, says that clutter is just procrastinated decisions. So true. I’m a master procrastinator… why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? So I’m kind of dreading what it will be like to finally tackle THIS:

The Mother of all dumping grounds: basement storage room.

Wish me luck with that, would ya?!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

The Booger Heard ‘Round the World

Two bloggers. Two different hemispheres. One vision (largely impaired by too much clutter, dirt, and booze). Exposed for all the world to see as Housekeepers of Ill-Repute, Proprietresses of Dubious Maternal Instinct, and Woefully Neglectful Wives.

Here they are, flashing their dirty bits in the first of three simultaneous postings. Click here to read the sister-post.


It all started with a booger.

A single booger, which I found stuck to a semi-freshly painted wall in one of my kids’ bedrooms.


What? Can’t see it? Oh sorry… let me help you with that:


It was the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back. That wall is painted with Behr Premium Plus paint in Shortgrass Prairie, 760D-5. It is my favorite paint color in the whole house. My husband and I lovingly painted that room as a peace offering to our oldest child for having to switch bedrooms when our third and final baby was a few weeks shy of  becoming a “fire in the hole!”

I noticed that booger the other day and bitched about it via email to a fellow mother/blogger friend I had recently met through the wonders of the Internet. “Not Drowning Mother” or “NDM” was very empathetic. “Kids are disgusting,” she agreed. Even Australian kids, it turns out. She said “I’ll see your booger and raise you a whole Wall of Mysteries, showcasing a full range of human excretia.” And thus, a plan for a tell-all “simulpost” was hatched.

However, there was so much material that we decided it wasn’t fair to only focus on the kiddies and their nastiness. We would have to out ourselves as well. And in addition, why stop at only housecleaning (or lack thereof)… we also found loads of common foibles in the areas of child rearing and husband tending. But for simplicity, we decided to break it into three separate simultaneous, intercontinental, photo-filled posts.

So here is my portion of part one. A photo-essay on the squalor in which I live. Some of it is kid-induced. Most of it is my own damn fault. All of it is bad enough that I actually did apply to be a home on “Oprah’s Clean Up Your Messy House Tour,” and they actually ARE considering me as a potential guest for the show. No lie. But I don’t want to jinx it, so let’s just leave it at that for now.

Oh, one more thing. You may be wondering why on Earth we would choose to air our dirty laundry like this, and why now? It’s simple, really. A new year begins tomorrow. A new year filled with the promise for change. I am always abuzz with excitement at this time of year! Excited for the potential for living a better life and creating a better life for my family. But I am also a real fan of using one’s talents and treasures to help others. Thus, if I can help even one overwhelmed woman to feel better about her life by comparing herself to the trainwreck that is my home… well, so be it. You are welcome, overwhelmed woman! You are clearly not alone. But you better get on the stick, lady… because I am seriously going to get my shit in order this year. I fucking mean it this time. And once I do, you WILL be alone. So join me, won’t you? Let’s turn over a new leaf (or scrape an old booger off the wall) together.

And now, more proof that your home is cleaner than mine:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, my kids fingerpaint with toothpaste on you to have a ball!"

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, my kids fingerpaint with toothpaste to have a ball!"

...but why stop at mirrors? Every surface in my home is a canvas for dirty, sticky fingers.

...but why stop at mirrors? Every surface in my home is a canvas for dirty, sticky fingers.

Every surface is an equal-opportunity canvas. Yeah, that's a permanent marker. Good times.

Every surface is an equal-opportunity canvas. Yeah, that's a permanent marker. Good times.

never a dull moment, or surface...

never a dull moment, or surface...

Alright, let me explain. I was worried that NDM was going to show me up with her Wall of Mysteries, so I went on a fact finding mission to locate anything of equal nastiness. It didn’t take long. Here you see a permanent party favor from Klepto’s not-so-recent bout with the stomach bug. Yes, friends, that is the “popcorn” ceiling in the master bathroom, and the stains you see are the remains of her regurgitated cheeseburger. Beat *that*, NDM!
But they don't only create messes... sometimes they help me clean too. See? No rinsing required.

But they don't only create messes... sometimes they help me clean too. See? No rinsing required.

Typical kitchen counter any given day... notice clothes, crafting supplies, dirty dishes, an iPod, food...

Typical kitchen counter any given day... notice clothes, crafting supplies, dirty dishes, an iPod, food...

... the aftermath of letting Bucket Head help me unload the dishwasher. This should really be filed under "Good Parenting" and not "Kids are disgusting."

... the aftermath of letting Bucket Head help me unload the dishwasher. This should really be filed under "Good Parenting" and not "Kids are disgusting."

drowning in a sea of dog hair and dust bunnies.

... poor Ernie: drowning in a sea of dog hair and dust bunnies.

... my "craft corner" in the basement... only it is too messy to work in, so I have taken over every other surface in the house. You can see where my kids get it...

... my "craft corner" in the basement... only it is too messy to work in, so I have taken over every other horizontal surface in the house. You can see where my kids get it... bad Mommy. Bad, bad Mommy.

I've taken over the dining room table as well...

... underneath this mountain is our dining room table. Who has time to put things away with all this writing and crafting and present wrapping and booger scraping to do?!

Wow. That’s impressive, even for me. Who else do you know with a six year old plaster casting of her breasts and pregnant belly just sitting on the dining room table? I’d love to take credit for the gorgeous Mermaid-Nymph painting on that belly, but I commissioned an incredibly talented artist/sistah/friend to do it. I have BIG plans to turn that sucker into a night-light for Klepto’s room. Yeah, plans that have been in my head for 6 years. Sigh. Which reminds me…

"Iris, telephone! It's Oprah. She is repulsed by your messiness and thinks the rest of America will be too."

"Iris, telephone! It's Oprah."

“Take a message, dammit. I’m writing.”
Yeah. Right. Happy New Year, ya’ll! And happy cleaning!

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