A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: organizing (Page 1 of 3)

As if I needed one more reason to hate clutter.

We’ve talked before about how “clutter costs you.” Like when I found that pile of uncashed checks in my home office worth $1463 and ended up on Oprah. Well not actually ON Oprah, she probably wouldn’t like that, and neither would Steadman. I mean on her show. True story.

But two nights ago I learned another valuable lesson about how costly clutter can be. 

Long story short: I broken my frickin’ toe when I tripped on one of Bucket Head’s toys in the middle of the night.

It’s not that great of a story, so I thought it might sound better as a song. Please click the link below to hear it:

Broken Toe

I’ve never embedded a song before, so please let me know if it doesn’t work. Alls I have to say is, watch your back Ke$ha, cuz my autotune skillz are badass.

I’m actually not even sure if my tootsie is broken… I’ve never had a broken toe before. But it sure does hurt like a mo-fo, especially at night. And it’s all bruised and swollen like a narsty fat cocktail wienie gone bad. Worst of all, it just looks SO out of place on my otherwise pretty feet. Poor, poor toe. And oh, the injustice! Couldn’t I have stubbed one of my ginormous manly fingers instead?

Sorry – but it’s just too hideous to show you the unedited shot. And to the sweet man who wrote in requesting more pics of my feet, please forgive me.

Anyhooooo, one good thing has come of this. Yesterday, Bucket Head, Mini-Me, my throbbing broken toe (“Drizella”), and I all worked together to clean the snark out of his cluttered bedroom.

Here’s what it looked like the morning after I tripped on one of his toys:

And from another angle:

Lord only knows what I tripped on! Yeeesh.

In his defense, the poor kid is only four and he’s having really bad night terrors: wakes up screaming every night. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him watch all those Friday the Thirteenth movies. I don’t know. But anyway, every night at bedtime, if he doesn’t sneak downstairs and curl up on my lap on the couch, he avoids going to sleep by playing in his room until he basically just collapses on his bedroom floor. We end up moving him into his bed when he’s sound asleep and usually just scoot the toys out of the way.

Letting him keep all those toys in his room was my lazy-ass way of not dealing with his sleep problems. It was just easier for me to let him play than to put the hammer down. Bad Mommy.

And I guess I was too tired or drunk or lazy to clear a good path that night like I usually do. Serves me right. Dammit.

But stubbing my toe on one of his toys is just the wake up call I needed. It’s time to teach this kid how to be a better sleeper. And the first step is eliminating the clutter from his room.

The sleep issue is huge – and too much to include in this post. We’ll save that for another day, because I have a lot to say about it.

But for now, all you need to know is that we have a new rule: the only extra things allowed in Bucket Head’s bedroom are stuffed animals, books, and his baby doll stuff. Yes, Bucket Head has a baby doll. His name is Zeke. Shut the fuck up. We’ll have to discuss that separately too.

Ready for some after pics? Don’t judge my shitty decorating. He’s my third and final kid. He gets nothing.

I think I’m most excited about the two baskets on the bottom shelf for all the paperback books. I already had those baskets elsewhere in the house, so I didn’t have to spend anything. They fit perfectly and it will be so much easier for Bucket Head to flip though them for what he wants. Here’s how I was storing those paperbacks before:

It was a mess.

Here is the updated system:

 We carried all the extra toys down to the basement play room, where they belong. And starting tonight, SLEEP BOOT CAMP… if I can stay awake for it once the painkillers for my toe kick in.

Humbly and gingerly, but with gratitude for the KICK I needed to stay on my organizing journey,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Ask and ye shall receive.

“Ask and ye shall receive.”

I don’t know who said that, but hot damn if it ain’t the God’s honest truth.

(Kidding, I know who said that. It was Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, right?)

Earlier this week I was in a major funk about the state of my house and the fact that I had not finished any of my 52 Weeks of Organizing projects lately. I suspected that if I could just focus and complete something, it would help me tremendously. So I declared my intentions to the universe.

And lo and behold, help arrived.

My organizing guru, Laura, THE Org Junkie, heard my plea and responded with the just in time medicine I needed: a fabulous post titled Finish what you start. It is filled with such good advice that I don’t even mind her blaming ME for her being a little hard on all of us this week! (Sorry guys. It’s for our own good.)

Laura encouraged us to update and reprioritize our lists! Holy cheese! That is just the lightbulb I needed. My priorities HAVE shifted dramatically since I began this journey 24 weeks ago. Almost losing 14,000 digital photos can do that to a gal.

But I never would have thought to update my list! What a great idea!

Iris' Original 52 Weeks of Organizing List

When I look back at my original list, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me anymore. I think it needs a major overhaul. So that’s something I’ll be working on next week.

This week, however, as promised, I focused on my office desk, the office floor, and my new computer. And I actually accomplished something! Staying focused in one room made a huge difference. (The rest of my house looks like shit, but I don’t care…I’m on a mission, ya’ll!)

But before I can show you my progress, first I have to show you something shocking!

"One of these things is not like the other one. One of these things just doesn't belong. Can you tell which thing is doing its own thing? Now, before I finish my song."

Ooops, not that one.

In the process of organizing some of my photos, I came across this old picture of my home office/den in 2004:

Pretty tidy, wouldn’t you say? This picture was taken about a year after we moved to this house. That was before we had a dog, or a third tornado child.

Fast forward a few years…

Look at the dog's face! Even he can't stand it here. And do you see what Mini-Me is doing in the background? Tossing my paperwork into the air. Nice.

Hello chaos. I’m Iris. Nice to meetcha.

That was Autumn, 2008. We had recently added hardwood floors and French doors. We painted the hallway and the home office. Like you can even tell with all that clutter in the way. Let’s face it, no amount of buttercream frosting can hide the fact that the cake underneath is made of crap.


You would think that finding $1463 worth of free money in that room would have motivated me to keep it more organized.

Uh, nope.

That really happened, by the way. One thousand, four hundred, sixty-three dollars. Fo shizzle.

It was January 2009, not long after that picture above with the three kids and the dog was taken.

You know how January goes… new year, new resolutions. I was bound and determined to get our home office under control. So I started moving piles around and putting like with like. That’s when I found a stack of unopened envelopes from my health insurance company. Thinking they were just monthly statements, I had never opened them. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

So one night I sat in front of the TV and started going through that stack one envelope at a time. Sure enough, they weren’t statements. They were reimbursement checks! And they were 9 months old and about to expire. If I had not found them when I did, all that money would have been lost.

That, by the way, was what got me on the Oprah show in March of that year. Well my voice anyway, and a bunch of pictures of me, my family, and my messy messy house. Ahhhh, good times.

But here we are two years later, and I haven’t really made a ton of progress on that home office since then. Here’s a picture I took about a week ago:

"Honey call 911! We've been robbed! Oh wait...nevermind."

Lord have mercy! Every time I come home to this I think I’ve been burglarized. Only I haven’t. The thief is ME and I’m robbing myself and my family of a better life. That’s crazy.

But I’m proud to say that I am a woman of my word and I cleared that messy floor this week:

Keep your eyes on the floor... ignore the bookshelves.

I followed Laura’s advice and put a big basket by the door to gather all the items that didn’t belong in my office. Still haven’t put that stuff where it really belongs, but baby steps, right? We’re going for progress, not perfection.

Now I’ve got stacks of organized, manageable piles around the perimeter of the room that I plan to tackle one by one over the next few weeks: medical papers, warranties, kids’ artwork, things to frame, the recipe pile, etc. I’ve also got to organize that bookshelf so it doesn’t look so messy. I always wanted to paint it or stain it too, but for now, I’ll settle for tidy.

I’m feeling much less overwhelmed! I CAN do this. One little pile at a time.

Special thanks again to Laura the Org Junkie for all her support and expertise! I’ve definitely made more progress in the past week than I’ve made in the past two years! Thank you, Laura!

Can’t wait to show you all my progress next week. I’m going to stick with this room until it is complete! Come back next week and see!

Enthusiastically yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Butts, ruts, and guts.

I have a confession to make:

I’m stuck in an organizing rut.

It’s not that I haven’t been keeping up with my 52 Weeks of Organizing List. I’m still organizing my little heart out over here.

It’s just that I haven’t actually COMPLETED anything lately, and therefore haven’t had any “after” pics to share.

The last time I wrote a 52 Weeks post, I was in the process of cleaning out my closet and got totally sidetracked trying on all my vintage denim and showcasing my camel toe for all the world to see. That was Week # 18! My how time flies when you’re digging denim out of your front butt.

It’s now Week # 23 and I have made absolutely no measurable progress. Ack. Or as my husband’s dearly departed Italian grandmother would have said, “Imma disgusta.”

And I know exactly what my problem is: I’m a starter, not a finisher. Story of my life. Ask anyone.

I was on a roll for a while there, but then I lost my focus. Instead of seeing a few projects through to completion, I gave up and started a few new ones. Bad idea.

I never actually finished the Command Center I started working on way back on Week # 12.

I’m still not done organizing my closet. I have purged numerous bags and boxes of ill-fitting or out-of-fashion (probably never in fashion) clothes, but I haven’t created any new systems yet. Still in the “purge ’till it fits” phase.

We partially cleaned out the garage a few weeks ago. I still have a big pile in there to take to Goodwill. You would think that the foul odor emanating from that pile last week would have been a good motivator to get that pile out of the garage, but no… still sitting there. And no, I never did find the source of the stank.

I am up to my ears organizing my digital photos. When my laptop started giving me grief a few weeks ago, all my organizing priorities shifted. I found myself clenching my teeth and getting all sweaty every time I’d turn that computer on…just holding my breath to see if it had died yet. That was a bad feeling. I suddenly realized how important all those photos were to me and vowed that I would do everything in my power to protect them and organize them. But it’s a huge project, and it’s complicated. I have pics on three different devices. It’s going to take a while.

I am in the middle of cleaning off my home-office desk. We are replacing two ancient dead or dying computers with one shiny new beauty this week. A nice new computer deserves a nice clean desk, don’t you think? Just don’t look at my office floor. Apparently my idea of cleaning a desk is to just push everything off the desk onto the floor. My grandmother clearly dropped me on my head right after she used my soft-spot as an ashtray.

And lastly, as if these weren’t enough projects to keep me busy, I now need to deal with my sweet little Bucket Head’s bedroom closet. Yes, sadly, my one formerly tidy child has suddenly become not only a slob, but also a liar and/or master manipulator. This needs to be nipped in the bud.

"My room ith all cwean, Mommy!"

"...but not my cwothet."

It is clear to me that I need to refocus and prioritize. I think if I could just hunker down and FINISH something it would do me a world of good and get me back in the saddle. So that’s my plan for this week. I’m going to focus on my desk, new computer, and office floor. Tune in next week to see if I can get out of my rut and check something off my list!

Sincerely and with new focus,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.



Hair in my freezer?

I was a very busy girl two weeks ago getting ready for my Pampered Chef party! (Which was very nice, thank you for asking!) In addition to cleaning out my car (like a dumb ass) and my freezer (because what’s a successful kitchen show without a squeaky clean deep freeze?), I also beat my kitchen drawers into submission. Amazing how much you can get done when your dog’s in the hoosegow and you’re in a flat-out panic about having people over!

So since I did three projects in one week (take THAT To-Do List!), I took a break from organizing this week and spent as much time as possible getting Ike readjusted to life on the outside. We had his invisible fence relocated so that he can’t be in the front yard anymore (without me). He’s having a hard time getting used to the change and doesn’t want to be anywhere but by my side, which is just fine by me. Sure did miss him. Did not, however, miss having to use the Dome of Doggie Despair everytime I turn my back. Some things never change.

Okay, enough chit chat. I know you want to see some nasty before pics and shiny after pics, don’t you?

Let’s start with the freezer.


…a friggin’ mess. Every time I opened it I was sure something would fall out and break a toe. Want to know a dirty little secret? We’ve lived here 8 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever really cleaned this puppy out even one time in all those years. Oh, the shame!

So I unloaded that bad boy…

And wiped that sucker down. Naturally I used my new Shaklee Basic H2 All-Purpose Spray… it’s organic and safe and not smelly. Here’s some more info about it. It rocks. Get some.

So the two most disturbing/entertaining things I found in my freezer are this:

… some nasty old freezer-burned broccoli stems. Seriously? Did I really think I would make soup or something with those? Why do I save things like this? I mean really. Here’s an idea… buy less food, have less waste.

And this…

… that’s a snowball. Aren’t my kids brilliant? Nothing more surprising than a snowball attack in the middle of summer. Bless their hearts. It really did snow here in Georgia, a lot, this winter. In fact, we were snowed in for a whole week in January. Not pleasant.

Hmmm, what an atypical scene... Mini-Me giving Frosty a lap dance and the Light of the World shining down on, oh I don't know... who could it be... is the chosen one... my Bucket Head?

But back to the freezer. I tossed a bunch of old stuff and put everything else back in a neat and orderly fashion. Not rocket science. And it didn’t take me very long either. I should do this more often! Maybe then I wouldn’t find dog hair in the bottom of my freezer. Oh Lord, at least I hope that was dog hair. You never know in this house. Did I tell you my husband is Italian? (Very hairy… fine lookin’ as all get out, but the curtains do not match the the rug, if you get my drift.)

"the curtains"

"the rug"









Back off, Cheryl. He’s mine. (Isn’t he a gorgeous hunk of man meat though?)

But again, I digress.

So now my freezer is sparkling clean and not the least bit hairy. Look how I’ve neatly arranged my freezer packs for the kids’ lunch boxes! Obviously, I need to group all the green ones together. My word, what is wrong with me?!

Got meat? I do! And it’s neatly stacked. Look at how my Tilapia is clearly labeled with the date. I’m fabulous.

My favorite part of my newly cleaned freezer? The “V” shelf.

“V” is for veggies and vodka.

Well, look at the time. I guess I’ll have to show you my clean kitchen drawers another day. But thanks for visiting and please stop back again!

As always, I’m linking up to Organizing Junkie. Also for the first time, linking to Organize with Sandy.

your friend,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

How to prepare for a kitchen party… if you’re an idiot.

Well, tomorrow is my Pampered Chef party. {Gulp!} And like Laura the Org Junkie says, inviting company over is the best motivation for getting your house in order! That’s just one of the 100 great tips in her book, Clutter Rehab. It’s fabulous.

When time is of the essence and you are about to have a gaggle of women held hostage in your kitchen for two hours, you need to get your clean on.

That’s why this week… I cleaned out my car.

Oh yes I did.

Clearly my Grandma dropped me on my head. Probably right after my Mom squeezed my papery-thin skull and my Grandpa blew smoke rings in my newborn face.

Sorry. I just can’t get enough of this picture and thought it was worth the repeat.

But back to getting organized. I actually did clean out my kitchen drawers this week too so that I’d have some kitchen gadgets to donate to the women’s shelter. But I also needed to clean out my car because it was beyond gross. You know it’s time when you start purposefully parking far away from other cars for fear that someone will peer in your windows and know your dirty little secret.

Fortunately, I have a cool system for cleaning out my car, so it wasn’t that bad.

I recently bought some flexible rubber buckets at one of the big box stores. I won’t tell you which one because my business manager/husband tells me I do too much free advertising, but the store name rhymes with Ball*Fart.

Aren’t they pretty? I love them so much that I bought one of each color! (Can you say: “Bucket Slut”?) And I use them constantly for all my organizational needs.

I assigned one color for each kid and I keep three buckets behind the couch to toss in the crap the kids constantly leave lying around. The kids empty their buckets once or twice a week as part of their chores. It works for us. We like it.

Of course, no surprise that Bucket Head likes the buckets. We don’t call him Bucket Head for nothing.

I also enjoy the buckets for sorting/purging tasks…

He's a keeper!

These buckets are great because they are made of flexible heavy duty rubber and they have handles. They’re easy to carry, even for the kids. And they won’t crack or break when they get dropped or thrown at each other, unlike some other hard plastic buckets I’ve tried in the past. They were about $5 each. Totally worth it.

So I took two buckets outside with me to clean out my rolling petri dish the other day…

One was for crap that didn’t belong in the van (teal). The other was for crap that did (magenta). I also had a garbage bag with me for crap that could go right into the trash.

A few minutes later, the buckets looked like this:

Why yes, that IS a rainbow clown wig. Everyone has one of those in their cars, right? I like to put that on right before I go through the car-rider line at school to pick up my two older kids while I’m blasting some Donna Summer and singing along with the windows down. Beep beep….yeeeeaaaahhhh… toot toot! Good times.

Once the van was emptied out, I was able to vacuum out three cubic tons of crumbs and wipe down the surfaces. I’m no professional auto detailer, so take this next part with a grain of pink Himalayan sea salt. There are only a few things I need to clean the inside of my car…

Pictured from left to right: Shaklee microfiber towel, Shaklee H2 All Purpose Cleaner, Swiffer Duster, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.

The center of my dashboard is shiny black plastic and shows every speck of dust. That’s nasty. I have a solution though. I keep a Swiffer Duster under my passenger seat in the built in drawer right next to my first aid kit. You never know when you are going to need a band aid or a duster, right?

Some people text while they drive. Some people dust. Don’t freak out, I wait until I’m at a red light. Geez!

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is my go-to tool for scrubbing off scuffs and dried boogers. If you’ve never used one, you are missing out! Just wet it first and wring it out, then scrub scrub scrub. I use the Shaklee H2 with the microfiber towel for everything else. What a difference it makes to not be driving around in such a garbage hole. Smells better too.

Oooh, quick tip. I owe you one this week since I was busy dealing with the Po-Po and my faithful dog’s arrest on Tuesday. I have this center console table thingy in my van. It’s a great spot to rest my phone or a huge bowl of Cheez-Its. But I didn’t like the way my shiz would slide around when I took corners on two wheels. So I cut out a square of rubber area-rug backing and put it there. Works like a charm.

I also keep a little plastic bin with rubber feet and a rubber liner (also from Ball*Fart) under the center console to hold my box of tissues so it won’t slide around.

Ahhhh. Molto bene! Driving around in a clean vehicle feels like such a treat. It even makes listening to Geronimo Stilton audio books less grating.

As usual, I’m linking this post up to Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing. It’s week # 14 there and her topic this week is “Does your system need a change?” Go there and see what my other sisters in organizing are up to! So inspiring!

I’m also branching out and linking to Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify. Check it out! It feels so good to know I’m not the only one out there struggling to simplify my life and get organized!

Well if you’ll mi scusa, I have to get crackin’ for my party tomorrow! Wish me luck!

your friend,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

The KEY to staying organized…

It’s week # 12 in Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge. This week Org Junkie’s topic is “Daily Maintenance.

Finally, something I apparently rock at! (Just don’t tell my bikini line… that Mama Bear thinks it’s hybernating until Memorial Day.)

With the exception of my dining room which I am using as a staging/work area while I declutter the rest of the house, I have successfully maintained all the other spots on my project list thus far.

Just ask my awesome Facebook friend Regan.

The other day I posted a picture of myself looking quite fetching in my very messy kitchen. Later that day, she wrote on my FB wall:

I notice that you’re keeping that window sill in good order. 😉

How awesome is that? I am so tickled that she noticed my neatly maintained window sill and that she would take the time mention it. Thanks Regan!

You know why I’m soooo good at maintaining these areas? Because I am sooooo lazy.

Maintaining is much much easier and less painful than the initial work it takes to get a space looking that good. It’s just like going to the dentist. If you floss everyday (which I do!), those bi-annual dentist visits are much easier, right? Same thing with your house. It’s just that sometimes we need a big ol’ painful scraping session to get to the point where we can easily maintain it on our own. That’s what led me to Org Junkie… I had gone too long without “flossing” my house. But now I’m back on track and things are definitely starting to look bright and shiny around here.

This week I’ve been scraping away at the hidden plaque in my kitchen. Ooooh-weeee, what a frickin’ mess.

Remember that built-in desk area of my kitchen? You know, the one that will be the ideal Command Center one day?

Well, I’m slowly working on it, piece by piece.

The first thing I did was clear that sucker off!

Check out my constant companion Gracie… she loves to just hang out with me while I declutter. I guess she’s an organizing junkie too!

Here’s what the top drawer looked like earlier this week:

Here’s me attempting to follow Org Junkie’s PROCESS… removing everything, organizing like with like, and purging as much as I can:

And here’s what it looks like after containerizing:

Much better, eh? Now I’m evaluating and simplifying. And soon I predict I’ll be doing lots of smiling about it.

I only had one minor hiccup on this project.

Have I ever told you about the time I hired the world’s worst professional organizer four years ago? It was, hands down, the worst money I’ve ever spent. (Even worse than that case of Fat Burning Soap I purchased from QVC in 1997.)

I’ll spare you the details because I’m a good Christian woman who subscribes to the Golden Rule. But let me just summarize by saying that bitch flat out sucked. Bless her heart. I pray that she’ll find her true calling one day… perhaps as a toll booth operator or inspector #42 at the Fruit of the Loom factory.

One of the projects she made me do was to organize that same kitchen drawer I worked on this week. She stood over me like a Catholic school nun with a wooden ruler and made me decide on the spot whether or not to keep or purge every little thing in that drawer. It was so awful, I still have nightmares about it.

But I will tell you this. Even though working with her was like having a drug-free root canal, she did know a trick or two (tops).

And one of those two tricks I learned from her would be really handy for a normal person (i.e., not me). I’d like to share it with you now.

In that junk drawer 4 years ago was a bunch of random keys. I didn’t want to throw any of them out because I wasn’t sure what they went to or whether or not I’d need them in the future. Plus, I have a major phobia of losing keys based on a childhood incident in which I lost the key to our beach house rental and my Uncle and Grandpa scarred me for life with their angry display. Seriously… to this day, I clip my keys to my purse or my beltloop or my nipple ring. Kidding, I don’t have a nipple ring, but if I did, my keys would surely be clipped to it (and dragging on the floor behind me.)

But here’s the solution that evil organizer came up with:

Bag of random keys, labeled “Trash 5-15-08.”

Her intention was that I could keep the bag of random keys for one more year, and if I hadn’t used any of them by then, I was supposed to throw the whole bag away on 5-15-08.

Pretty brilliant idea, I have to say.

Of course, here we are almost three years past that scheduled dumping date, and have I done it? Nooooooooo.

They are keys! KEYS!!! You know the minute I throw those out I will find a magic box or trunk in my attic or basement that contains treasures beyond the wildest imagination!

I. Simply. Cannot. Throw. Away. Keys.

So here’s what I’m a-gonna do. I’m just going to move the baggie somewhere less prominent… perhaps to the bottom of my file cabinet. It’s just a little baggie. It doesn’t take up that much space! Right?

Forgive me, Org Junkie. I know it’s the wrong thing to do. I just can’t throw away keys. I can’t.

Okay, in all fairness, I’m starting to think maybe that professional organizer wasn’t so bad afterall. She just had one bitch of a difficult client. Bless her heart.

apologetically yours,


PS – to see the rest of the 52 Weeks projects I’ve tackled so far, click here.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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