January Cure – Week Two and Three

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I’m spending this month participating in Apartment Therapy’s January project called the January Cure, a whole month full of assignments designed to help you get yourself and your home organized for the new year. Well, I’m trying to anyway but I’ve found out two important things along the way.

One is that I (for once) am living in the same house and many of the tasks we have been assigned are similar to ones assigned last year. Guess what, I don’t need to do them again! I’m not bragging, I mean some of the task like scrubbing down your kitchen cabinets needs to be done every year, let’s get real the kitchen can get real gross real quick. But things like purging and organizing the linen closet have pretty held up since last year. I may have a towel or two that have gotten ratty or some straightening of my blanket stacks to do but overall the linen closet is still looking good.

The second thing I have learned is that since we are moving soon I don’t really need to clean the linen closet, I need to purge and pack the linen closet.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my January Cure has sometimes gone off on a huge tangent. I’ve done some of the projects as instructed and other days I am tackling things I need to accomplish for the move instead.

The to-do list we wrote out in week one is getting a huge workout!

So let’s see what I’ve been up to.

Clear a Closet – This one was for sure a to-do. My son’s closet was a wreck and I am not about to pack a pile of junk only to move it to another house. We tackled this one together with a bit of negotiation. He told me what  COULD go and I told him a few more things that SHOULD go. In the end we finally got things looking good.

Here are a few before and after shots.  It helps that he’s a boy and doesn’t have a ton of clothes….

Review your to-do list and choose one (not-too-big) project you’d like to cross off this month.

This one was fun since you were given a 30 minute time limit to complete it. I chose to pull down my hallway gallery wall and box all the art for the move. I came back later and filled the holes and touched up the paint but boxing the art didn’t take long at all.

Take a media fast!

What? I know, it’s harder than it sounds, taking your main block of “home time” with no television, computer, or smart phone. I decided to work on an art project my husband commissioned. A project is always a good distraction from electronics for me and with this big chunk of me time, and it’s almost done!

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Take time today to go through your linens

Like I said this one mostly held since last year but that didn’t mean there were not a few things to straighten and toss.

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Clean your kitchen! Choose an “inside or out” track and get started.

I chose the outside since the inside will get a full cleaning once everything is packed.  A full wipe down was a must but the top the fridge needed a hazmat team.  Look up there guys, it get’s gross. But not mine, it is now sparkling! The inside…that’s another story.
As for items not on the AT list, I got quite a bit done there too.
  • I painted my bold colored mantel, door, and mudroom closet back to white. Not everyone is up for my bold color choices.
  • I took down four of my light fixtures and returned the original ones back to the house.
  • I took down the art in the master bedroom and my sewing room and started boxing it up.
  • I filled about 300 nail holes and touched up the paint.
  • Packed about ten boxes of items we won’t be needing anytime soon…ten down 500 to go!

Oh yeah, and as instructed, I bought fruit instead of flowers this week. Whew, I’m tired.

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January Cure 2017 – Week One

dsc02801 It’s a new year and that means time for Apartment Therapy’s January project called the January Cure, a whole month full of assignments designed to help you get yourself and your home organized for the new year. Think of it as a New Year’s resolution for your home. This is my third year participating in the January Cure and I have to say it really does help put your home in good order for the new year. Even if you don’t complete every task you’ll be glad you played/worked along. This year with a move on the way I’m hoping to clear out the clutter so I don’t have to move it with me.

Let’s have a look at how week one went.

Assignment # 1: Let’s Go! The Cure Begins with a Quick Confidence-Boosting Declutter– Choose a drawer, any drawer but only one drawer and get to work. Well, I know everyone has a junk drawer and the longer you have it the more junk it accumulates. We haven’t been in our house much over a year and ours is pretty junky. The worst part is that last summer I spilled a pack of chia seeds in this drawer and they look surprisingly like mouse droppings. Not something you want people to see in any drawer much less one in the kitchen.

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Thanks to assignment one, my junk drawer is now chia seed free.

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Assignment #2: Bring the Big Picture into Focus: Create a To-Do List for the Year – Holy cow this list is going to be long. So much to do, I may be working on this list all month.

Assignment #3: The Storage Black Hole in Every Home – Purge the Pantry! Okay, I don’t have a pantry and every year Apartment Therapy seems to like to rub it in my face. Instead, we have a bank of cabinets we use to store dry good and one next to the range that I use for spices and baking items. I guess the bonus of not having much room means we don’t have room to hoard unneeded items so this was more of a cleaning than a purging.

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I took the time to wipe down the shelves, consolidate and reorganize. The result wasn’t a full pantry but a least it looked better.

Assignment #4: Create an Outbox – The Outbox is not garbage, nor does it need to be an actual box; it is a halfway house where things sit while their fate is being decided.
OUTBOX RULES
1. Anything can go in the Outbox
2. The Outbox is allowed to get messy
3. Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week
4. After that time you have several choices

  • Take anything back out
  • Leave anything you are undecided about for one more week
  • Dispose of the rest by moving to the recycling bin or giveaway pile

I already had an outbox started in a laundry basket in the garage so I took the time to empty it out and make a trip to the donation bin for a fresh start.

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Assignment # 5: Flowers, Floors and Sticking Together No Matter What!  Did someone say flowers? Okay, so buying flowers was easy part. Actually, the floors were even easier because I didn’t do them myself. Cheating, I know but since I went back to work full-time I hired a housekeeper, so she took care of the floors and I took care of the sofa.  You know what happens under, on, and around the sofa? Lots of crumbs, dust, and dog hair. So I took this week to vacuum and mop under the sofa, vacuum under the cushion and wash all the cushion covers.

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I think the results more than earned me a the right to buy a few flowers.

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I always love that tulips are in season during the January Cure!

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January Cure 2016 – Week Four

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Last week was the final push for completing the January Cure hosted by Apartment Therapy, it was along month but I feel like I really accomplished a lot. A few of the assignments I have not fully completed (re-lining the shelves in the kitchen cabinets) but they have at least been into motion. The others I have added to my to-do list (create a landing strip.) As usual the January Cure gave me just the boost I needed to get the ball rolling on finally settling into the new house. Have a look how the month finished out and see what I took away from the process.

Assignment 17: Catch Up Day

Up to you! Just do what you’ve got to do to help make you feel back on track…or closer to the track…or even somewhere in the neighborhood of the track!

Since I had the day off from any specific job I decide to tackle one of my to-do list items. I finally got my daughter’s desk/vanity painted. You may have seen this when I posted it last week but if not here are the before and after photos.

Assignment 18: Create a Landing Strip and Start Using it

The first two parts of a “healthy home filter” are self-explanatory, you’ll want a door mat and hooks or proper, usable space in a coat closet to hang your outerwear and bags. Once you have this space use it!

This is a space I really need but have yet to carry out. I have considered the options though. We have space for a landing strip in our laundry/mud room but I’m still trying to figure out the best use of the entire space since it has to accommodate a landing strip, the laundry, the dog beds and all the pet supplies, as well as broom closet type storage. I have a pantry in this room but it is not very well organize at this point. Some of these function could go into that space once it’s redesigned but what I’d really love to add nice landing strip piece like this hall tree.

Bedford+Entryway+Hall+TreeAssignment 19: Do a Surface Sweep

Choose one room in your home where the surfaces could use some attention. Set the timer on your phone (or stove, for you nostalgia lovers) for 3 minutes and GO. Dive in and straighten as if your life depends on it, flat-out FAST for the duration of the timer.

Well this is always my problem child, my computer desk area. I want to expand the book shelf so that the desk area looks built-in as well but for now I just have a little desk that is way too small and always full of “stuff.” Most of the mess is just laziness, dropping things on top instead of putting them away.

OK 3 minutes, GO!

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A quick sweep of this area always makes a big difference.

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Assignment 20: Empty the out box.

Guys, during the last month I have emptied the out box FOUR TIMES! I even got a few pieces of furniture sold online so I can actually see most of my floor in the garage. I guess I had more purging to do than I thought.

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Assignment 21: You’ve got your first full weekend off in a month – buy yourself some flowers, relax and celebrate!

Once again, nailed it!

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So the big question. What did I take away from the January Cure 2016?

  1. I needed this. As much as I thought I had things under control there a lot to be done even in a house I’ve only lived in six months.
  2. I little goes a long way- Doing a little each day, even just three minutes really makes a big difference.
  3. Lists make me accountable – When I write it down I don’t forget what I want to get done and I can pick whatever task I have time for that day.
  4. Just because the January Cure is over doesn’t mean I’m done. Now that I have my list I have been marking things off but also adding to it. My list is perpetual and will be something I work on all year-long.

Now back to relaxing, until next year…

January Cure 2016 – Week Three

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Week three down and we are in the home stretch of the January Cure hosted by Apartment Therapy. I participated in the Cure last year so I was a little concerned that this year would be a total repeat of last years tasks. Instead, I was excited to find that this year’s tasks were completely different. I am in a different house this year so I think it would have been okay for me to do the same tasks but for those who are not such vagabonds having different tasks each January really helps you move around the house getting everything in order even if you do little more than upkeep throughout the rest of the year. Have a look at what I’ve been up to this week.

Assignment 12: Tune out Tonight

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This evening (or whenever your main block of “home time” is) take a break from television, computer, tablet and cell or smart phone.

I recently started a new book, Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner, that has me so hooked. I had not problem turning off the gadgets for a night. I laid down to read and by 9:30 I was out for the night. I think a night of decompressing and not worrying about the internet, TV or social media gave one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a while. Maybe an hour of this every night wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Assignment 13: Lighten up the Living Room

Give your living room (or family room – wherever you spend a lot of time and/or entertain guests) a once over and remove some of the “accessories” from the room ala the Chanel quote. The idea here is to lose the extraneous things that might have started to clutter up the surfaces in the room that you perhaps just aren’t noticing anymore.

Coincident? maybe? but after my night of reading I am feeling very inspired by Mademoiselle CoCo and am happy to clear some items from my living room. Currently this room is one of my least favorites rooms in our new house. It is slightly too narrow for our furniture and extremely dark because of the sun-room on the back of the house and shady yard that block the light from getting in. Maybe spending some time clearing out the excess in this space will give me a good start at brightening up this room. I’ve started moving things out and trying different furniture hoping this will help me get this room to a place that makes me happy. The work is still in progress…

Assignment 14: Go through your bathroom and medicine cabinets, cleaning and clearing.

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This one was not too terrible. Since we recently moved from Germany I recently did a big purge so there really wasn’t anything too much excess in the medicine cabinet. I did find a few things that had accumulated in the last few months that could be thrown out but mostly I needed to do some organizing and figure a better way to store things. We don’t have an actually medicine cabinet, just under counter storage so I installed some door mounted shelves like you might use for spices in the kitchen to better store the small bottled for vitamins and prescriptions. Much better than digging through a basket for all these little things.

Assignment 15: Go through your linens

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Take time today to go through:

  • Towels & Washcloths
  • Sheets & Pillowcases
  • Duvet Covers, Comforters & Blankets
  • Dishcloths & Tea Towels

Pare them down as needed by sorting into three piles:

  • good ones that you actually use
  • ones in decent shape that you have not used in a year or more
  • ones that are worn out

This one was similar to my medicine cabinet issues. There was not a lot of purging to be done but the organization still needed work. We have a nice big linen closet but for the most part I had just been filling it up to get things out-of-the-way. This week I actually sorted through and got things organized, with a few purges…

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Okay so there was more purging required than I actually thought!

Assignment 16:

Deep Clean the Bathroom

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Is it okay that I outsourced this one? I paid my fifteen year old daughter to give the bathrooms a good cleaning on Saturday while my husband and I were out hunting a new mattress. Once I got home all I had left to do was mop the floors and do some final touch ups, and of course have a nice hot bath in the fresh clean bathtub.

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Because everyone loves a “before and after,” and so you see how far we’ve come, here is what the bathroom looked like when we moved in. FYI I didn’t do all this work this week, I just hadn’t shared the “before and after” and since the bathrooms are all sparkly clean what better time than now?

Oh yeah and the kids bathroom is also looking a whole lot better these days.

Flowers!

As long as the bathrooms are nice and clean I decided this week’s flowers would go there. I opted for an orchid because who doesn’t love orchids?

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January Cure 2016 – Week Two

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Week two of the January Cure hosted by Apartment Therapy has come to a close and it has been a busy one. I have to admit that I have not been able to dedicated as much time to the cure as I was last year but even a small amount of effort is helping me make noticeable progress. Each day of the week as the tasks are given I am forced to focus on a goal and even if I am not able to complete it right away I am feel encouraged to do it as soon as I can. Weekends seem to be catch up time but still I am able to get most of the tasks done. Here is how this week went.

Assignment 7: Do a Mini-Meditation

Find a spot in your home that you rarely (maybe never!) sit in that gives you a view on a room or area that you feel is especially problematic. Take a seat on a chair (or the floor) and just observe for ten minutes.

My daughter’s room has been in an “almost” complete state for quite a while now so I decided to have a seat and see what was left to be done. One or two of the projects are big but there are a few small ones that could easily be done in a day. Here is the list:

  • Paint new desk and order new knobs
  • Paint dresser
  • Finish hanging wall decor
  • Make DIY photo display
  • Buy or make large artwork for over the bed

Part two: Review your list and choose a project to definitely complete this month.

I chose to do the two easiest on this list first.

  • Finish hanging wall decor
  • Make DIY photo display

I had most of the display items already but I had a few spots to fill in so I was thinking the real assignment was to go shopping!

Assignment 8: Quick Closet Clean Out

Pick a closet, any closet… Whichever you choose, keep it to one closet and 30 minutes only – you have the rest of the year to hit up more. See what can be accomplished in one closet in just 30 minutes.

For this one I chose my ten-year old son’s closet. He has been quickly out growing everything so the main goal was to purge all those items and try to get rid of anything he doesn’t use anymore. I was able to purge clothes pretty quickly but got overwhelmed by the small stuff. Luckily for me my son decided to take over where I left off. He took everything out of the closet and purged a whole garbage bag full of trash and another full box to be donated. I’m not sure what got into him but I’m sure not complaining.

Assignment 9: Task to Keep on Track

Choose a date and time for a get-together at your home on the weekend of January 29 – 31 (or whatever date is best for your schedule near the start of February). This assignment is designed to help keep you on track and motivate you to keep on powering through the rest of the Cure.

Sadly this is one of the hardest task for me since we just moved to new state and know very few people. I guess that means I should take this as a challenge to invite over some of those new friends and have a coffee or something. Does it count that I signed up to host Bunco in June. If all else fail surely I can have the Cure completed by June…

Assignment 10: Fill in the Blank Day

Spend some time on the project that you selected in assignment 7 and move it forward, or even complete it, if possible

Make DIY photo display. I shared last week how that project went and I am loving the results. Complete!

Photo Frame

The second task I complete was to finish hanging wall decor. You can see from the photo at the top of the post things are coming together nicely.

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I hate to give too much away before the final reveal but this display is one of my favorites.

Assignment 11: Give your bedroom a good, deep clean.

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 This should be a very thorough job. The aim is to rid the room of as much dust and potential allergens as possible. Here is a sample guideline deep clean plan that you can use as a checklist:

  • Pick up and put away all clothes, books and belongings
  • Declutter surfaces (remove change, jewelry, etc and put in proper places) Strip the bed
  • Launder all bedding, including mattress and pillow covers
  • Flip and/or rotate the mattress
  • Vacuum curtains with brush attachment and/or clean blinds
  • Clean windows and mirrors
  • Dust all surfaces and wipe down light switches, fixtures and ceiling fan
  • Push aside the bed, side tables and dressers and vacuum/clean under them
  • Remake the bed
  • Enjoy a sound sleep in your freshly cleaned room!

In the new house the master bedroom will be one of the last rooms to be completely updated. For now I’m struggling with wallpaper border and brown paint but a good cleaning is a move in the right direction. We have only been in the house for six months so we haven’t had time to need a full scrub down but clean sheet sheets and, holy cow, wiping down the ceiling fan are never a bad idea. I also had a giant pile of artwork that still hadn’t made it on the wall that I finally moved out of my path to the bed. Now that everything is clean and clear I am feeling really motivated to move on to the next step and finally get the walls painted a lighter brighter color.

Pick up your weekly flowers

This one is always an easy task for me whether it be plants or flowers I’m always game. This week I bought two Red Aglaonemas which are supposed to do well in low light. Hopefully they will thrive in my low light living room.

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Okay guys, no more time for chatting I have to get back to work!

January Cure – The Living Room

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Week three of the January Cure over at Apartment Therapy is now complete and I a proud to say I have stuck with it and really tried to accomplish all the tasks. Last year I barely got the projects off the ground but this year sharing my progress with you guys has been a big motivator for me. Not that I would be in big trouble if I failed, but because I am just competitive enough that I don’t want to fail if someone is watching. So thanks for all that perceived judgement, with that in the back of my mind week three was a busy one. That means taking big steps towards a cleaner more functional home. Here are some of the tasks that I worked on this week.

Monday was  The Media Fast, the idea is that for a few hours during your main block of “home time” to take a break from television, computer, tablet and smart phone. I will admit that I did not do this consciously but during one of my big cleaning days this week I got so involved I did not so much as check a text for hours, but since that was by accident I don’t think it really counts. I still plan to take an evening with the entire family to really unplug but I will not lie, I have not done it yet.

Tuesday was Bathroom Cabinet Clean Out. Let me start by saying we are in a rental and when we moved in the previous tenants left a ton of cleaning products in the house. Instead of clearing everything out I kept some of it around thinking I may need them, since the previous tenants knew the house better than I maybe these were MUST HAVE items. In my bathroom clean out this week I found a few items in abundance that are definitely NOT must haves, nor did I buy. First was the Anti Schimmel  which is close to the American product Tilex for removing mildew. I have been in the house a year and a half now and have seen very little mildew which I understand can be a problem in German homes since they are stone and very well sealed. The only spot that seems to attract mildew is the ceiling in the bathroom and I am not about to stand around and spray bleach over my head (okay so I tried it once, didn’t work out so well.)

The second item that I seem to have in abundance is Ant and Roach spray. Now I don’t know what kind of living conditions the previous tenants were used to but I have not seen a single roach or ant in this house. Not even one. Flies yes, gnats sure, maybe a bee that flew in by mistake but those German cockroaches we have in the States have defiantly migrated out of this part of Germany, or at least from my house. Maybe this would explain why all three cans are almost completely full.

I decided on saving one bottle of each product just in case I should have a sudden mildew, ant, and roach infestation but the rest will have to find a new home. I need that space for the important stuff like my flat-iron!

DSC06939Wednesday’s job was Create a Landing Strip and start using it, a place for things to land and be filtered as they come in the door. I really needed help moving this out of the kitchen. The kids are constantly dumping their backpacks in the middle of the kitchen floor which only adds to the chaos in this small space. I do have a landing strip elsewhere but I have to admit I have let it get a bit out of control and it does not function as well as it could. Too many coats, hats piled high, and nowhere to ditch the backpacks and bags after school.  I decided the easiest fix was to move the coat rack higher on the wall and add a lower shelf for my purse and the kids backpacks when they get home from school. I of course had to leave a little room for Stella, this is her favorite spot in the house. I also did a quick sort through the coats to leave only the ones we wear every day, coats that are worn only on occasion were put elsewhere, another basket for hats and scarves and we were looking pretty good.  Now lets see if we can stick to the using it part!landing stripThursday was time to Clear a Closet. Ha, Ha, jokes on them because guess what? I don’t have any closets! I do have a few wardrobes though so I guess I don’t get off on a technicality. Really though, if I don’t get the joy of a closet should I have to suffer the misery of closet cleaning? I guess it couldn’t hurt, besides it could use little work in there and since I don’t have a closet that means there is absolutely no room for things that are not getting used. After a two bags of donation items and a lot of organizing I have my two BRIMES wardrobes looking pretty good.

DSC06930Once I cleared out the excess a little organization was all I needed. I installed extra shelves for folded clothing and shoes. For jewelry I added cup hooks on the inside of the door across the top, no more tangled necklaces. Voila!

Before my clean out I could barely find a hanger when I was putting clothes away. I know I did a good job because now I suddenly have a ton of hangers left over.

DSC06937My final weekend project was to show the Living room a little love. While this was just a basic cleaning project it was a big deal getting everyone to stay out of the living room on a Sunday afternoon since this is where the main TV and gaming consoles are. I managed with several “I’m board” comments from other rooms of the house. I guess I forced them into a media fast too.DSC06948Since I was making everyone else miserable I took the job to heart, moving furniture, washing slip covers, and wiping down all that media. Those things get so gross with dust. By Sunday evening I was enjoying my media again in a clean fresh living room.

And of course to finish off the project I had to buy my weekly flowers. I know, I keep buying tulips but they are so pretty this time of year. DSC06961One more week to go, lets see if I can finish strong.

Anyone else still hanging in there?