A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: organizing (Page 2 of 3)

Laundry Room Highs and Lows

It’s week # 9 in Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge. This week the topic is “What is your good enough?” God help us. This is going to be cathartic.

If you are just joining us and want to get caught up on all my previous projects, click here.

Ever since I revamped my laundry system a few weeks ago and stopped sorting laundry, I’ve been itching to organize my awful laundry room. Ultimate goal: for my 11 year old son to start washing his own clothes. But there was no way I wanted him farting around in my messy laundry room, mixing bleach with ammonia, or putting too much soap in the washer like that dumb-ass Bobby Brady.

Look, can I be honest? I frickin’ hate my laundry room. I truly could not hate it more if it were located over an Indian burial ground and haunted by poltergeists. It’s small, dark, cluttered, and worst of all, ordinary. It has no natural light, old nasty linoleum floors, and energy inefficient top loading appliances that were purchased at the end of the last century. And, this room is a passageway between my garage and my kitchen, so I’m forced to look at it all the stinkin’ time.

I’ve tried to spruce it up little by little over the 7 years that we’ve lived here… a coat of leftover paint, some hooks, a set of really nice shelves my sweet Stepdad and I almost killed each other installing, a few cute baskets here and there. But all these little improvements are like putting a band-aid on a gushing hatchet wound. In other words… ain’t working. I still hate it.

I’ve always fantasized about one of those fancy schmancy laundry rooms with custom cabinetry, a built in ironing board, a spotless counter top for folding, gleaming glass canisters filled with organic plant based detergents… the works. You know — the kind of laundry room Martha Stewart would go to prison for.

But instead, what I have is this:

BEFORE: Cramped, cluttered, and ordinary laundry room.

Ugh. So very far from perfect, wouldn’t you agree?

But let’s face it – I’m not going to get that fantasy laundry room any time soon. So I would be wise to stop comparing and start decluttering. In the immortal words of Elvis, “a little less talk, a little more action.” Let’s do this, shall we?

Remember the PROCESS? (Plan, Remove, Organize, Containerize, Evaluate, Solve, Smile)

1.) Plan. Eh, f#ck it. I’m not a planner. I’m just gonna dive right in.

2.) Remove everything from the space. Check:

WOW! Looks so much better already, doesn’t it?! Decent bones, at least. Okay, I take that back, but at least my water supply hoses are made of braided steel instead of rubber. So there’s one good thing.

This would be a good time to paint the room the robin’s egg blue I’ve been coveting, but my husband said “NO WAY, JOSÉ,” since I have so many other unfinished renovating, crafting, and personal hygiene projects in the works. I swear, sometimes that man is about as much fun as a dead baby bunny on Easter morning.

In case you’re wondering where I put all that stuff… well so much for the clean dining room from last week:

BEFORE: decluttered dining room.

DURING: cluttered dining room revisited.

That’s okay. Just more motivation for me to keep moving and git-r-done.

3.) Organize. Once everything was in the dining room, I put like with like, and tossed (or recycled) a bunch of CRAP like a dozen cardboard toilet paper tubes I was saving for a craft we’ll never do.

4.) Containerize. Whatever I didn’t toss/recycle, I consolidated. Then I moved a box of pet supplies to the garage to preserve the valuable real estate I had created with all the purging.

Time to put stuff back into the laundry room!

And THAT is when it hit me: the less I put back in, the more organized and spacious the room would appear! I used containers to create boundaries, just like Org Junkie says. Turns out I don’t need a bigger laundry room… I just need less stuff. Talk about an “Aha Moment.”

And speaking of containers… I started thinking, what would oneshabbychick do to corral all her fabric softeners and stain removers? Her stuff is sooooo pretty and easy on the eye. Ooooh, I know…. she’d find something fabulous on the cheap at Goodwill and spray paint it Ivory or Navajo white. So I did just that. Check it out, my little Lookie-Lous:

BEFORE: ugly metal bin from Goodwill.

AFTER: same thing, but with satin ivory spray paint.












5. ) Evaluate.

AFTER: Iris' laundry room shelves.


AFTER: Iris' laundry room make-under.

6.) Solve. This is obviously a work in progress. I’ll keep you posted as I get used to the new decluttered space and discover if there are any problems that still need to be solved.

I am going to have my artsy pregnant friend Mama Cloud make me some pretty labels for the baskets so my kids and husband can find things. She has the most beautiful handwriting and needs something to take her mind off the ring of fire she’s going to experience in about 6 weeks.

7.) Smile. Can’t. Too tired. And all those spray paint fumes have me a little high. But I surely am grateful for the “Aha Moments” I experienced in this project and I’m looking forward to purging more stuff in my other rooms.

It may not be the perfect laundry room of my dreams, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it was last week. Maybe uncluttered is good enough for me.

Until we meet again!


© 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 PROCESS of Getting Organized and Changing Habits

For the past few weeks, I’ve been participating in a very exciting program called:

To participate, all I had to do was create a list of 52 organizing projects or habits that need to be done or developed around my home, and then tackle one project per week for the year. Piece of cake… creating the list, that is. I could think of 52 things that needed to change just in the room where I am sitting right now!

So I made my list and got started!

My "52 Weeks of Organizing" List

If this sounds like a cool idea to you, it’s never too late to get started. You can get a free copy of this cute list at orgjunkie.com.

Thus far in the challenge, I have checked the following projects off my list:

  • linen closet
  • dining room table
  • kitchen island
  • the kids’ Legos
  • the pantry
  • the coffee table drawers

This week, I vowed I would chose a project from my list that required I spend NO money, that I could do in an hour or less, and that was IN MY FACE all the time. Having a clean drawer and pantry is all well and good, but most people can’t see those things when they come to visit. If you were to ring my doorbell right this minute and I was startled (or drunk) enough to invite you in, you would see some crazy sh*t, believe you-me. And you’d judge me immediately and would be out the door before I had the chance to say “But wait! My pantry is SO CLEAN!” Or, “I know this looks really bad, but you should see my kids’ Legos!” Or, “But I know where every single DS cartridge in this house is!

So before I get thrown in a padded cell or my kids get taken away from me while they film the next episode of Hoarders! Buried Alive!, I thought I should just suck it up and tackle one of my “hot spots.” And by hot spot, I don’t mean my swollen middle toe that has been throbbing for three days, possibly due to a flesh eating fungus. No, I mean an area of my house that is an honest-to-goodness dumping ground. There are many to choose from, actually, but I picked the one that is the most IN MY FACE: the window sill above my kitchen sink. Take a gander, my pretties:

Kitchen Sink Window Sill Dumping Ground... BEFORE.

Oh yeah. Soak it in. What a visual cornucopia of CRAP. Just in case you can’t really make out all the fascinating goodies that have been randomly dumped here over the past few months, let me just point out some of the highlights for your viewing pleasure.

EXHIBIT A: coupons, Thanksgiving turkey wishbone, one slutty Barbie shoe, an empty baggie, and a soap carving.

Perhaps we would have remembered to break the Thanksgiving wish bone if it hadn’t gotten buried behind so much other crap.

EXHIBIT B: Christmas Pez Dispensers flanking Our Lady of Guadalupe and some Beano Meltaways, plus some rocks, two buttons, a frowning Lego head, and a pen. HOLY CRAP.

“Hail Mary full of grace, please protect me from my husband’s extreme flatulence and the creepy Pez Dispensers that won’t stop staring at my boobs.”

EXHIBIT C: 8 OTC medicine cups, Carmex, a burned out lightbulb in a votive candle holder, two batteries, and my dog's antibiotics for some nasty skin infection he probably got from one of my kids.

And there was more random stuff… some jewelery (Fair Trade!), some rogue coins, a Tooth Fairy Bag. You get the point… this is a dumping ground for lots of small things. Have I mentioned that I have a dog with an eating disorder and a very mischievous 3 year old son who likes to stick things in my computer ports? Also, I’m a bit on the lazy side. There, I said it.

Anyhoooo… using the tips and tools I found on Orgjunkie.com, I followed the PROCESS for organizing my space:

P – plan your attack
R – remove items from the space
O – organize stuff into piles; sort and purge
C – containerize
E – evaluate your plan
S – solve and simplify
S – smile, relax, and enjoy your hard work

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Plan – yep, got one: gonna put my sh*t away and try not to let it get like this again.

Remove items – easy. Just moved it all to the counter below the sink and to the left.

Organize/Sort/Purge – this is the step I always get stuck on. If I knew how to purge, I wouldn’t have spaces like this in my house, now would I? But enough with the excuses already. I divided all the stuff I removed from the window sill into piles: like with like.

Sorting, purging, putting things where they belong.

Then I put on some KC and the Sunshine Band and shook shook shook my booty as I ran around and put things away where they really belonged. Did I actually purge anything? Yes indeedy! I got rid of 7/8ths of those old medicine cups and the burned out light bulb. Big whoopdie-do. Everything else had real homes though.

Next step – containerize. Didn’t really need to do that here. Next!

Evaluate plan? Okay. Now here is where I had my big AHA moment. I bet I’ve been cleaning this kitchen sink window sill off every two months or so since we moved in 7 years ago. But it always seems to go back to being a dumping ground, so how could I end this cycle and keep it clean once and for all?

I needed to change my habits.

So I started doing the Org Junkie “10 minute tidy” at the end of each day, paying special attention to the window sill. I found myself policing that sucker like a new mother protecting her two day old panda cub. Every time my husband would put something there, I would be there like white on rice to say “Um, excuse me, but where does this really belong?” It was incredible. What a shift in thinking. Maintaining this little space everyday was surprisingly easy once all the clutter was gone!

Solve and simplify? Yes and yes. The simplifying was my favorite part. By removing all the clutter and putting away all the things that had real homes, I could decorate the space with the one or two things that REALLY matter to me, like my Blessed Lady of Guadalupe statue and a rock my friend gave my daughter that says “love.” I could also easily clean all the water spots off the window. Bonus!

But the solving was an important key as well. I created a “coupon bag” to hang on the fridge as a catch all for coupons that my husband and I cut out on the fly. Now there is a real home for coupons and they won’t end up on the window sill.

And finally, smile, relax, and enjoy your hard work:

Kitchen Window Sill: AFTER! Day one...

This last step, the smiling and enjoying part, is much easier to do when your hard work lasts longer than one hour. So just to show you how hard I’ve been working to keep this former “hot spot” clean, here’s the same shot, taken 8 days later:

Kitchen Window Sill Makeover, 8 days later!

And THAT, my friends, is how a lazy mama like me changes a habit in 8 short days! Let’s just compare that before and after again, shall we?

BEFORE - dumping ground!

AFTER (8 days later... still clean & clutter free!)

Well, that’s one more thing to cross of my list! Yeee-haw! Tune in next Friday to see if I can keep this motivation going and tackle my desk. I’ll also keep you posted about my progress with changing my habits and keeping the clutter at bay.

Off to do my 10 minute tidy!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Clutter Rehab: A Book Report by Iris Beard

So my very own copy of Clutter Rehab: 101 Tips and Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It! by Laura Wittmann arrived in the mail yesterday and I curled up on my couch and read that cute little book cover to cover!

And man oh man have I been doing it all wrong for 41 years.

On the VERY FIRST PAGE, in the very VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH, Laura says:

Let me start right off by admitting my little secret: I’m an organization addict. Yes, it’s true! But this doesn’t mean I have all my soup cans lined up in pretty little rows with their labels facing out, my spices alphabetized, or perfectly color-coordinated bins and baskets. My sheets aren’t folded and stacked pristinely, and I don’t make my kids sort their Legos by color!


Uh… I totally just spent a week of my life sorting Legos and then spent over $100 on a Swedish-engineered storage masterpiece. Seriously. The handle on my 3 year old pleather Target purse is broken and shedding little vinyl dingleberries everywhere I go, but I spent $100 on a fancy toy box? What is wrong with me?

What would Laura have done?

Oh, here it is, Tip #15: Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive–make do.

Damn it.

Wanna know what else I’m doing wrong?


What I used to think were oh-so-clever labeled and color coded laundry sorting bins.

Yes, Laura says “Stop sorting your laundry” (tip # 86). She just puts a basket in each of her three kids’ closets and when the basket is full, the whole load goes right in the washer. Brilliant!!! She does have a few other laundry tips on that page to keep the colors from running, but I don’t want to give the milk away for free, if you know what I mean. You’ll just have to get her book if you really want to know (and you do, believe me!). But truly, she said this tip was LIFE CHANGING for her. And can you imagine how much easier it would be to put clothes away, or even have the kids do it, if the whole basket was filled with just one kid’s stuff? I’m going to rip those fancy shmancy labels right off and stick one hamper in each kid’s closet… pronto. And you know what else… I’m going to take it to the next level and teach my 11 year old Nature Boy to just do his own damn laundry. Of course I’ll have to clean out the laundry room first since I’m the only one in this house who knows where the detergent is and the difference between a Tide To Go Stick and a Clorox Bleach Pen. Stupid men. But anyway… I’ll just add it to my list… as soon as I find it. Not kidding.

There is ONE thing I’ve been doing right that I think might make my organizing guru proud… Tip # 78: Designate a charging station. I created this little custom space saving charging station all by myself a few weeks ago. Laura is all about re-purposing items for creative storage solutions and utilizing valuable “real estate” efficiently. I think this one is a winner! How about you?

My custom cat litter box and charging station. Super!


Okay seriously. Get this book. Totally worth it. I pretty much own every organizing book ever written, and this one, by far, is the most practical and user friendly one in my collection. I’ve tried Feng Shui, I’ve tried Fly Lady, I’ve tried Peter Walsh, I’ve even tried books written especially for people with A.D.D. I’m also a subscriber to the Organizer Lady daily Yahoo group newsletter. None of them compare to Clutter Rehab or Laura’s blog, I’m an Organizing Junkie, in my humble opinion.

Well… get to it. Your house is not going to organize itself, you know.

with love and optimism,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

One down, fifty-one to go.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a great website and blog called I’m an Organizing Junkie: Living a Life of Simplicity and Order. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Specifically, I’m obsessed with the 52 Weeks project:

…create a list of 52 organizing projects or habits that need to be done or developed around your home…dressers, drawers, closet, toys, paper, you name it. Let’s do it! Having a plan is a great first step!  Tackle one a week or more and then come on back here on Fridays and we’ll talk about it. The highs and the lows. No stringent timelines, no project too small, just good fun, sharing inspiration and motivating one another.

My family and friends know that organizing is something that I am truly passionate about… probably because I so clearly suck at it. I bet if you added up the cost of all the “How to Get Organized” books in my home, then added in all the containers and baskets and shelves I’ve bought, then factor in all the money and checks and gift cards and coupons I’ve just flat out lost due to my lack of organization, you’d have enough money to hire a professional organizer to move in with me for a month and straighten my cluttered culo out once and for all.

But since that’s not going to happen, I like the 52 Weeks idea. It’s manageable. It’s low pressure. I’m going for it! Maybe 2011 is the year I finally get organized.

Here’s my list:

And I’m so pleased to announce that I have just finished one of the items on it! Whoo-hooo! Yes friends, the Lego Project is now complete. As you may recall, this is what it looked like when I started:

It took about a week of sorting, which, as I mentioned before, was oddly therapeutic and relaxing. Once I had them all sorted by color, I went to Ikea with my friend Mama Cloud and we picked out a fabulous shelving unit called Trofast. I even assembled it myself with very few violent outbursts. (Damn Swedish pictograms!) And here it is, in all its color coded glory:

Isn’t that so much better? This unit comes in either pine or white laminated particle board. I chose the pricier pine because I like how it looks and I thought it would be more durable, but only time will tell. I accidentally over-tightened one of the bolts as I was building it and it slightly split the wood. I don’t feel like taking it back though, so I just turned the unit around and now the little crack is hidden. No big whoop.

Sadly, my little “Look how organized we are!” celebration didn’t last very long. The kids were magnetically drawn to the new storage system like moths to a flame. They couldn’t wait to start playing with their Legos and all three of them kept telling me how the new system made their play so exponentially more enjoyable. Feeling pleased and proud of my accomplishment, I went upstairs to see what Oprah was up to today and when I returned to check on them a little while later, I found this:

Shit. Shit. Shit.

That is not what I was envisioning AT ALL.

They totally pulled half of the drawers out, the Legos they used were all over the place, and they did not clean up after themselves even a little bit. Shocking really, how quickly my basement went from Swedish paradise to Lord of the Flies. In less than an hour, the Legos were forsaken and Mini-Me was drawing with chalk on one of her stuffed animals, Spider-Man was sticking magnets up his nose, and Nature Boy was was on the computer playing with Photoshop:

Nice. I am quite proud of his computer skills, actually. But I’m suddenly wishing I had spent that Ikea money at the Coach store instead. Damn ingrates.

Well then. I have 51 more organizing projects to do, and I’ll be damned if the next few aren’t going to be for me me me instead of those ferrets, I mean, children. Also, I’m starting to suspect that maybe being organized isn’t just about the purging and the sorting and the fabulous Swedish containerizing. Perhaps there are rules and expectations and routines that need to be established as well. Hmmm. It’s a mystery. Hopefully my wonderful new organizing guru at orgjunkie.com will enlighten me about all this in the weeks to come. And if not, maybe I’ll return that shelf and go purse shopping instead. I’m keeping my Ikea receipt just in case… somewhere around here.

Tack så mycket,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris

Justified Recalcitrance

Dear God,

I know I promised you that I would stop with the Lego sorting if you would just give me another chance to appreciate my daughter more while she is still a little girl. I’m sorry I went back on my end of the bargain by sorting Legos yesterday. If I could just explain though: I committed said sorting with my daughter and mother as a multi-generational bonding activity and it was really quite lovely until Mini-Me got bored and started to play the keyboard right next to us at a deafening volume, even after I requested she stop. Naturally, I had no choice but to shout at her, make the “Imma-Disgusta” face, and banish her from the play room. I’m sure you can understand, given your similar reaction with your own recalcitrant children, Adam and Eve. The good news is that we are officially done with sorting process and now I can go to Ikea and purchase the mack-daddy of storage systems and get back to my promise to stop with the obsessive compulsive organizing. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your unconditional love and acceptance, and I pray that you will continue to be a good role model for me so that I can someday learn how to not be such a royal bitch.

A rainbow of temporary bliss (and/or insanity).

Sincerely yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 The Bearded Iris

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑