I’ve put off writing this post because even though I’m super excited about completing the challenge of ridding my home of 365 excess items in 6 months, this last session is tough to write about.  I’m just going to dive in and get it over with!

Most of the time when people try to get their homes organized, they start with their closet.  Many professionals will have you start with a closet.  The idea being that a closet is a small, finite space.  You can tackle it in a shorter amount of time than a room and feel accomplishment right away.  When you are trying to get organized those small victories make it easier to keep going.

So, you may be wondering, why I have neglected my closet.  It’s certainly not because I wear everything in there!  Here was my problem:  where some people have “fat clothes” that they hold onto for times when they are slightly heavier, some people have “skinny clothes” for when they lose weight and some have both, the sizes in these cases often are just a size or two different.  In my case those sizes ran from 16-28!  I have actually worn all those sizes in a two year period!  I was on a year long weight loss program where I lost 100 pounds.  Not only did I fit into my “skinny clothes”, I blew right past them.

So that doesn’t really sound like a problem, just get rid of the bigger sizes.  BUT- (and this is the part I’ve put off writing about) I have put back on a great deal of that weight.  When I removed the larger sizes from my closet, I vowed I’d never wear them again.  I only kept them because it was fun to see the boxes pile up.  I’ve always hated buying new clothes when my current clothes got snug because it seemed like rewarding myself for putting on weight.  But the truth is, I never really rewarded myself with new clothes when I lost weight either.  Finally I took a long hard look at my wardrobe a few weeks ago and thought, “This is silly.”  My clothes were snug and I dreaded getting dressed in the morning, meanwhile I had boxes of clothes in my room that fit, but I refused to wear.  That’s just crazy!

I thought long and hard about this.  I could diet.  I could exercise more.  But I wanted to stop dreading getting dressed in the morning.  I want to be able to get dressed now.  I want clothes that fit me now.  I have enough stress in my life without causing more over my wardrobe.  So here is what I did:  I went through every box (and there were many), I went through my entire closet and every drawer in my dresser and I kept only what fits me right now!  I got rid of the “just in case” undergarments, the stockings with runs and every item that does not fit me right now.  And it took a long time!  Days and days!

But the result is that I can now pull any item out of my closet or dresser and put it on at any given moment.  It is so freeing!  Look at all the empty hangers in my closet:

All the empty hangers! (Pay no attention to the unfolded mess on the shelf- that’s my husband’s area. The choice to fold or wad is entirely his.)

 I remind myself daily that though I can no longer fit into a size 16, I am also no longer a size 28.  And if I am ever either of those sizes again- I will buy new clothes.  The most important thing is that I can get dressed in the morning without dread and it did not cost me a penny.

I just could not force myself to count every item as I boxed it up.  It was a LOT.  Here are the boxes of clothing to be removed:

7 large boxes full of clothes being removed from our home!

Each of these boxes contains more than 20 items- even the one that has a winter coat in it!  But if I conservatively say that each box has 20 items, plus the small box with a pair of boots in it, the total number of items is 141.  Add that to the 256 items removed as of the Ultimate Room Cleaning Showdown and that makes 397 items removed from our house!  Ta da!  Challenge complete.

It was really hard to write about my weight issues, but if my being honest helps one other person get dressed stress-free in the morning, then putting it all out there is worth it.

So, how are you doing?  Have you accepted this challenge?  Where are you at in the process?  I would love to hear from you.

Kids do not like to clean their rooms, I knew that as a kid, I know it as a parent.  But my kids’ rooms were out of control!  I had to think of a plan that would make cleaning their rooms fun.  When my oldest 2 were little we’d have races.  I’d send them to their rooms saying, “Put away 3 yellow things.”  Then I’d say, “Pick up 5 square things”.  I would go back and forth between their rooms to see what needed to be picked up and think of a creative way to get those items picked up.  Instead of saying “Put your cars away”, I’d say, “Put away 6 things with wheels.”  We’d have several races until the rooms were more manageable.

But now, I have 17, 14 and 7 year old boys.  That old idea was not going to fly with them.  I needed to spice things up…starting with a cool name…and anticipation.  So yesterday I began to say things like, “Brother…vs. brother…vs. brother…in the Ultimate Showdown” using a mysterious announcer voice.  Each time I walked by one of them, I’d say something like, “Who will win the ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN?”  Not surprisingly, the teens came back with, “This better not be lame!”  And, “Oh, it’s going to be lame!”  And even, “This better not involve cleaning our rooms!!!!”

I simply said, “We’ll see at 10:30 tomorrow morning, won’t we?”

To not be lame, this idea needed some graphics and a prize.  The graphics?  A large chart that said, “Brother vs. Brother vs. Brother Ultimate Showdown” at the top, 3 columns for their names and the rounds numbered 1-8.  The prize?  A giant Hershey Bar and the winner’s before picture is not posted on this blog!  LOL!

Awesome Graphics- Chart taped to the wall in the hallway.

Awesome Graphics- Chart taped to the wall in the hallway.

I cannot begin to tell you how much better this went than expected!!!  They were begging me for more time!  The 17 year old pleaded with me to give him time to vacuum his floor!  And they all asked if this could be a bi-annual event!  I am NOT kidding!  I planned the events to take about 30-40 minutes.  The competition began at 10:30 and ended at 12:15 because they wanted more time!!!  And not one person complained about how long it was taking, or how tired they were!

Before Shot of one room- Yes- we actually let our child's room get this messy!

Before Shot of one room- Yes- we actually let our child’s room get this messy!


Before Shot of 2nd room- Yes- this room is even worse!

Before Shot of 2nd room- Yes- this room is even worse!

Here is a how it worked:

Brother vs. Brother vs. Brother Challenge:  The Ultimate Room Cleaning Showdown

Ground Rules:  Stand in your doorway while I tell you the challenge and say “go”.  When you have completed the task, you run back to your doorway and shout, “DONE!”  Minus 2 points for every complaint of unfairness.  When voting occurs, you cannot vote for yourself.

All contestants must tour each other’s messy rooms, as we will be voting for “Most Improved” at the end of the challenge.

Round 1:  Bring me 6 articles of clothing that you will no longer wear.  (At the completion of the round, they had to fold said clothes and put in a pile.)  Points awarded- 15, 10, 5 from fastest to slowest

Round 2:  2 Bag Challenge- you have 5 minutes to fill one plastic grocery bag with trash and one with recycling.  Contestants may not empty currently bagged trash into their trash bags.  This must be newly gathered trash off the floors and flat surfaces.  Points awarded: 15, 10, 5 x 2 (one for recycling, one for trash) awarded to the fullest to least full bags as voted upon by your siblings.  Bonus points if ALL trash is picked up.

Round 3:  Put away 10 books, videos, magazines or notebooks, then bring me 5 books you’re not keeping.  Points awarded: 15, 10, 5 fastest to slowest

Round 4:  This was supposed to be 4 minutes to pick up all clothes- with clean clothes going into dressers and dirty clothes going into the laundry.  Drawers must be closed with nothing sticking out and all dirty clothes will be washed by YOU TODAY. (So don’t just dump everything in your laundry basket!)  Points awarded: 15, 10, 5 with the most points award to the person with the fewest articles of clothing still out at the end of the challenge.   Note:  This round they begged me for more time than 4 minutes!

We totaled the scores at the end of round 4 to see where everyone was at.

Round 5:  Bring me 6 things to sell at our yard sale.  Bonus points for additional items.  Points awarded: 15, 10, 5 fastest to slowest.  Round ends when third person is finished. 1 point for each additional item.

Round 6:  You have 5 minutes to clear a 12 inch path down the long side of your bed.  Cleaning, not shoving!  Points awarded:  15, 10, 5 cleanest to least clean as voted by your siblings.

Round 7:  Completely make your bed with sheet and comforter.  Points awarded: 15, 10, 5 fastest to slowest.  (One child makes his bed every day, so he won before the round even started and helped his littlest brother with this challenge.

Round 8:  7 Minute “FREE Clean”- In this challenge contestants are going for “Most Improved” and “Overall Cleanest Room” again as voted by your siblings.  Points awarded:  25 for Most Improved, 25 for Cleanest Room- these cannot be the same person.  Again, the boys asked for more time and here is when my eldest pleaded for time to vacuum!

I think it was important to award points to everyone in every round.  That way, no one ever had zero (which was very important to the 7 year old).  No one was ever completely out of the competition until the last, high-scoring round.

The results?  First Place- 17 year old, Second Place- 7 year old, Third Place- 14 year old!

The Winner with his Prize- note his before picture did not appear above!

The Winner with his Prize- note his before picture did not appear above!

_0025There you have it!  Brother vs. Brother vs. Brother Challenge:  The Ultimate Room Cleaning Showdown!

And for those of you keeping track for Challenge 365:  that is another 30 items to sell at our next yard sale, plus 6 bags of trash/recycling = 36 more items out, bringing our total of items removed from our house to 256!

I’d  love to hear from you if you try a version of this challenge!

I’m in my first link party!  You can see it here on The Simple Home if you scroll down.


So, I believe I am up to 148 gone from my home in my quest to rid our home of 365 items in 6 months.  We’re off to a pretty good start!  Today I’m going to address some “just in case” items.  You know… “I should keep these things just in case…”

I have a HUGE stash of boxes and containers stored in our walk-up attic.  I mean, really, a huge stash.  I do not have a specific need for any of them.  I have kept them all “just in case”.  I have baskets, boxes, tins, jars.  Because I am a professional organizer, I never know when I am going to need a container to contain something!  Or, I might need a box to place a gift in for gift-wrapping.  Or, as I did for my teenage son at Christmas- I might need a box to wrap inside a box, to wrap inside a box to hide a gift!  But really- it was getting out -of-hand.  So I made the tough decision to rid our home of some of these items.

A Stash of containers.

A stash of containers.

Above you can see the 21 boxes, tins, and containers I removed from the stash.  This is probably less than half of the “just in case” items, but it’s a start.  Let’s talk about the self-talk I used to cull these items.  First of all, I decided to keep decorative baskets and boxes designed to be storage and get rid of “trash”.  Cookie tins and shoe boxes are trash.  They were easy enough to discard.  I initially hung on to the shoe boxes, because I had been thinking of using them for a project.  Now the project is already done with boxes that worked better.

Do I still need the shoe boxes?  No.

Why are you hanging on to baby wipe containers when you haven’t had a baby in over 6 years?  Well, they came in handy for storing small things like diaper cream and nail clippers in the nursery.

Do you still have a nursery?  Um…no.

Do you still have small things that need to be corralled?  Probably yes.

Could you use one of the more decorative baskets or boxes that you decided to keep to corral small items should the need arise?  Yes.

Then get rid of the baby wipe containers.

It was easy enough.  So all of the above items got recycled except the crate which went into the “Yard Sale Pile”.  We’ll talk more about that later!

I also decided to get rid of this box of toilet paper and gift wrap tubes.  I initially collected them for a craft project.  Then I decided I didn’t want to do the craft project.  Bye bye tubes!

Toilet paper and gift wrap tubes

Toilet paper and gift wrap tubes

Not wanting to waste all these perfectly collected tubes, I e-mailed my youngest son’s art teacher and asked if she could use them.  She was only too happy to take them!  I did not count these items!  For the purpose of this challenge I am going to call this “one box of cardboard tubes”.  So they’ll be one item, bringing the total including this post to 170 items gone!


 As you may know, I’m challenging myself to rid our home of 365 excess items.  I thought I might try to do that in a year, but since my first purging session cleared out 141 items I think I should try to do it in less time.  Let’s say 6 months!

So, this week I decided to try to make a little money in the process of purging.  There are a few local facebook groups in my area dedicated to consigning items.  If you want to try this yourself, type “yard sale” or “consignment” into the search box at the top of your Facebook page and you’ll be surprised how many places pop up.  I listed 6 items,  and sold 5, bringing in $100.  Here is what sold:

Clockwise from top left: a riding toy, a shelf with baskets, a doll, a drawer to hold coffee pods and a dresser.

Clockwise from top left: a riding toy, a shelf with baskets, a doll, a drawer to hold coffee pods and a dresser.

There is one item I want to talk about here because it may help you with your own decluttering issues:  The coffee pod drawer.  The coffee pod drawer was given to me as a gift from my mom & step-dad.  It was a great gift idea!  I know they saw this in the store and thought, “Jennifer will like/could use this,” and bought it for me.  And I truly appreciate the sentiment.  If they had bought it a month earlier, I really could have used it, but my husband had already bought me something to hold my coffee pods.

So I asked myself a few questions:

Which item holds more pods?  The one from my husband.

Do I need to hold that many pods?  At the moment, yes.

Will I always need to hold this many pods?  Quite possibly.

Can I use the drawer for something else?  No. It is specifically designed for this purpose.

Then I needed to get rid of the drawer.  When my mom & step-dad were here, they saw that I already had something to hold my coffee pods and they said I didn’t need to keep the drawer so there is no guilt in my selling it.  But quite often we are given gifts that we do feel guilty about not liking or not wanting to keep.

Over the years I have tried to tell myself, “It is not my fault that this gift missed the mark.  I am the one who has to maintain my home and I should be the one to decide what is worth dusting, looking at or taking up valuable storage space.”  If a gift is not right for me, I am still appreciative of the gesture, but my house is not big enough to keep everything ever given to me.  It is okay to let things go.

I’ve been using this challenge to explain my “self-talk” in the decluttering process.  Maybe some of you find it helpful.  Do you have your own “self-talk”?  Would you care to share?


We’ve gotten rid of another large item in our quest to purge 365 unwanted items from our house.  This next item was HUGE!  It was our computer desk.  We tried to sell it on Craig’s list over the last year for varying amounts of money and my husband was finally able to sell it yesterday for $20.


Sigh.  $20.  We paid about $500 for it new.  And it was just what we needed to house all of our office items…at our last house.  That’s the problem.  The fact that it was sort of self contained and could be closed up was perfect for the large open floor plan of our last home.  But here we were using it in a small room that just felt smaller with this desk in there.  It had to go!  But we paid so much for it!  But it had to go!  But we paid so much!  It had to go! But all that money….

Yes.  It cost a lot of money to buy that desk.  But what is it costing my family to keep a huge piece of furniture that we are not using?  It wasn’t costing us actual money to keep the desk, but it prevented us from using that space for something else.  In a situation like this, it helps to keep my eye on the prize.  What’s the prize?  More space in our house for our family to live and pursue our interests.  Which better serves that:  keeping the desk or getting rid of the desk?  Getting rid of the desk!

143 items gone, 222 to go!

Have you accepted my challenge?  What have you gotten rid of?  What kind of “self-talk” do you use to make yourself let go?  I’d love to hear from you!


So- I’ve had my grandmother’s electric organ for years… I mean…years!  I have fond memories of playing that organ at my grandparents house.  My grandma taught me how to play “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music on that organ.  It was passed on to me when my grandpa died and has moved with us to three different houses.  But here’s the kicker…it never worked!  In all the time I’ve owned it, it hasn’t worked!  The power of sentimentality, baby!  I should mention:  people told us it would be valuable if it worked…but it didn’t… people also told us it would costly to fix it…

Here's the organ from when we first moved in to our current house.

Here’s the organ from when we first moved in to our current house.

I finally agreed to let my husband list the organ on Craig’s List.  For $20.  Ok- I didn’t know he was only going to ask $20 for it, but it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t work and we don’t need it.  I did love it.  I do love it… but I think I will love the empty space more.

So, the first two calls he got were from people who didn’t want the organ, but were warning us that the organ would be worth a lot more than $20 if it worked.  C’mon, man!  It was hard enough to make this decision in the first place!  Stop second guessing me!!!  I talked myself down off the ledge like this, “It would be worth more if it worked, but it DOESN’T work.  You don’t know how to make it work.  It will be expensive to make it work and then any money you would make selling it would just be paying yourself back for fixing it.  PLUS- if you fixed it, you’d be tempted to keep it and you want the empty space NOT the organ, remember?”

You may have noticed in my book clearing post  that I have a ginormous, old upright piano, by the way.  So, yeah, I really don’t need an organ…

So anyway, a guy came and got our organ.  He seemed very apologetic about taking it for $20.  I felt like he was trying to warn me that he was going to make millions on our naivety without actually saying it because if he said it we’d keep the darn thing.  He offered us a consolation prize:  if we could find the hardware that would hold up the music stand he’d give us an extra $10.  He e-mailed a picture of the hardware.  My husband scoured the house and found it.  We made $30 and got an organ shaped free space in our house for the first time in over a decade!

I see this as a win-win-win situation.  I win- I get some space back in my home and am one item closer to my goal of 365 items.  The guy who got the organ wins- he’s going to make a bajillion dollars reselling the organ.  And perhaps most importantly, somewhere, sometime, some little girl is going to win because she’s going to  have fond memories of her own grandmother  teaching her to play “Do-Re-Mi” on that organ.



I am challenging myself to get rid of 365 items in our home that we no longer need or want.

It occurred to me that the easiest place to start would be the four bookshelves in our family room.  They were absolutely overflowing with double rows of books and things sliding off onto the floor.  I know we don’t need all these books!

I decided to make one pass through for this first go-round.  And I decided only to deal with books, not knick-knacks or other things on the shelves.  The exception being the bookshelf that also houses some of our youngest son’s toys.  I will go back through and take a harder look at the books that are left and the knick-knacks, but I think I made a pretty good dent!  Here are before & after pictures:           

Shelf 1 Before & After

Shelf 1 Before & AfterShelf 2 BEFORE & AFTER

Shelf 2 Before & After

Notice how the middle two shelves above were two rows deep with books.  We love books in our house!  The bottom shelf is full of record albums and yearbooks.  We’re not ready to get rid of those just yet!

Shelf 3 Before & After

Shelf 3 Before & After


Shelf 4 Before & After

Shelf 4 Before & After

That was a double row of books on the top shelf there!  And I’ll point out that my son helped me sort through some of his papers and toys on Shelf 4.  He gave a few things away and recycled some papers and some of the things I moved to another spot.  I’m sure he’ll be part of this challenge before the end, but this phase was just about books.

And here is what was removed:

All of thesebppks will be finding a new home in someone else's house!

All of these books will be finding a new home in someone else’s house!

So final count:  141 books removed!  Almost halfway to 365!  Maybe that goal isn’t lofty enough!  We’ll see after session 2!  I’ll get back to you in a few days!


So, this is it!  I’ve been thinking for awhile now that I really want to clear out our house.  We (and I’ll be honest- probably mostly me!) have a LOT of things in our house we don’t need.  I’ve decided that now is the time to do something about that!  What better way to commit to a project, than to make it public where any number of people can hold you accountable!  The goal: rid our home of 365 items this year.


I’m really not sure if this goal is too lofty or not lofty enough!

Want to join me?  Please let me know and we can cheer each other on!