Category Archives: Homemaking

4 Organizational Projects

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I identified a few projects that would help me keep my apartment clean from an organizational standpoint. Today, I’m going to share with you what those projects are.

While I tend to have homes for most things, I tend to be lazy and not take the time to put things back where I know they belong. And once you’ve done that with one thing, you do it with two…

There are 4 areas I identified that could have organizational quick fixes:

1. My shoe pile by the door
2. My pile of coats and bags on the couch
3. My spices in the kitchen
4. My pens on the couch

Here’s how I’m going to address each of these:

1. My shoe pile by the door

shoe pileI always kick my shoes off before I get to my carpet. Problem is, they never seem to find their way to my closet. All the shoes I regularly wear end of up in a pile by my door.

When I read Marie Kondo’s book, I remember she talked about her coming-home routine included putting away the previous day’s shoes. While she didn’t say her reason, this makes sense: today’s shoes are sometimes too wet to be put away immediately and can use the time to breathe.

Instead of a pile, I’m going to allow myself two pairs of shoes by my door: the most recent shoes I wore and my outdoor flip flops.

My first thought was to buy a solution: a small shoe organizer to put my door, but I’m going to attempt to fix my problem by self-discipline, first.

coat and purse2. My pile of coats and bags on the couch

When I come in after work, I not only kick my shoes into the pile by the door, but I put my coat and purse on the couch. You can bet if shoes never walk themselves to the closet, coats (who don’t even resemble feet) never do either.

Instead of the couch, I’m going to put hooks on my entryway wall for these things to have a place that is “away” within easy reach.

3. My spices in the kitchen

I use a lot of herbs and spices, as I make a lot of things from scratch. When I cook, I don’t always put the spices away in my cute little rack, because I may need them still. The rack is always a few steps away and sometimes blocked by other items.

I’ve decided to fix this issue by moving my spice rack to the counter where I do all my cooking (right next to the stove). By having them more convenient, I’m hoping I’ll be less likely to leave them out.

4. My pens on the couch

I do almost everything at my “spot” on the couch. I use 5 pens (4 fun colors and 1 black), a Bible highlighter and a nail clipper regularly in this spot, so they tend to hang out on the couch cushion with whatever book I’m reading. But as you might guess, they don’t like to stay put, regularly getting lost in the couch or on the floor.

To combat this, I used a birthday gift card to buy a cheap pencil pouch.

I’m hoping by having these 4 areas neater, it’ll inspire me to be neater in other areas as well. I’ll let you know the outcome after I’ve had a few weeks to test them out!

My Winter Garden

As the nights (and days) started getting cooler her in Denver a few weeks ago, I transitioned my balcony garden to a living room garden.

Between powdery mildew and a cool/overcast May, I didn’t have as much success outside this summer as I would have liked, but I learned a lot and know steps to take to have a more productive garden next year. (Vinegar water did nothing to the powdery mildew, but watered-down milk did.)

One thing that will help my garden next year be more productive is if I can get a head start. I don’t have the space to make a makeshift greenhouse, but I can take advantage of my sunny living room.

So this year, I’m growing a winter garden.

I brought the herbs I had left inside. I’m hoping to keep them growing through the winter so I don’t have to start anew from seed next year. Having them inside has had the added bonus of making them more accessible to use fresh. These are the herbs I brought inside:

Basil
Oregano
Rosemary
Sage
Parsley

I’m also trying to grow again a few that I didn’t have a lot of luck with outside this year. I already had the seeds, so it is definitely worth trying. I’m trying this with thyme and cilantro (and may try chives, too).

And then there is the final plant I’m attempting to grow: a tomato plant.

A month ago, I cut off a few suckers from my tomato plants and placed them in containers of water. I refreshed the water a few times, and after 2 weeks roots had grown that are 3-4 inches long:

tomato sucker roots

I then planted the now-rooted suckers in new containers. One shriveled up, but the other successfully took root and now looks like this:

planted tomato sucker

I don’t know what will happen with this plant, but it doesn’t really hurt to try.

While my winter garden has settled in front of my sunny sliding glass window, I know that won’t be enough light as the days are getting shorter and shorter. I’m supplementing daylight with an LED grow light (the first purchase from my homesteading fund…much better than Diet Dr Pepper!).

Here’s my entire garden set up:

indoor garden under grow light

I’m happy to see what happens with my little garden going forward. So far, they seem to enjoy their new set up, and it’s great to have so much green inside as everything outside is going brown.

Are you trying to grow something inside this winter?

Culling Clothes

This is the pile of tops that I had before I purged 21 of them.
This is the pile of tops that I had before I purged 21 of them a few weeks ago.

Before I get into today’s post topic, I want to tell you a story from my college days.

I spent an entire year (either freshman or sophomore) keeping track of what I wore each day. As a challenge to myself, I decided not to re-wear a top for as long as I could. Turned out, I had enough seasonal clothes to not re-wear the same thing for 60 days.

A couple of months ago I talked about the minimum amount of clothes I thought I needed. Obviously, my ideas about clothes and the challenges I give myself have changed. Since then, it is something that has come to mind a lot. I took a MOOC on sustainability that brought up how our clothes are designed to be laundered easily, not for long-term use. I also had a conversation with a few other ladies in our church about how in other cultures, it’s not looked down upon to wear the same thing over and over.

Why can’t we just assume that we can each decide for ourselves when an article of clothing actually needs washing?

While I’d love to have no qualms with wearing the same thing two days in a row around the same people, I just don’t think I can do that in the workplace as I don’t want my personal appearance to distract from the work that I do.

So how am I practically applying my evolving clothes philosophy?

My pile of tops, post-purge.
My pile of tops, post-purge.

1. I pulled everything out and went through them Marie Kondo style. I was able to get rid of 57 pieces by doing so. I’m not done minimizing clothes, but I think this is a great place to start. (I’m also going to be cleaning up other areas as well…more on that later).

2. I hang my clothes up to air after I take them off. (My indoor clothesline definitely comes in handy.) In the morning, I smell and examine each item and either hang it back up in the closet or throw it in the laundry basket depending on what the evidence supports.

3. At the end of two weeks, I do one load of laundry. Yes: I’ve minimized my laundry load (from clothes at least) to one load every 2 weeks, half of what I used to do. This is better on my clothes and saves me time.

I’m sure these habits will keep changing as I learn and grow, but this is where I am now.

Knowing Your Foundational Habits

Not my actual sink or dishes. Because I've never taken a picture when they're bad...but you get the idea.
Not my actual sink or dishes. Because I’ve never taken a picture when they’re bad…but you get the idea.

I feel like my apartment’s neatness comes and goes in waves. Right now, I’m on the upward swing towards neatness.

I have found that there are a few things that I can do to increase the likelihood that my apartment will be clean.

I call these my foundational habits for tidiness.

I think that we all have foundational habits, though they likely vary from person to person. Foundational habits are the things, when done, that drive us to take an extra few seconds and walk something back to it’s proper resting place or to throw something away rather than piling it on the table.

These are my foundational habits:

1. Emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes. If I don’t remove the clean dishes from the dishwasher, then I have to pile dirty dishes in the sink. When the sink gets full, I have to pile them on the counter or table. Any new dirty dishes don’t get rinsed, as the sink is full, so they require more work before they even make it into the dishwasher.

When I see the dishes piled on every kitchen surface, I’m also less likely to put away groceries or anything else that might have found its way to my dining room table. Finally, when I see my table piled high, I’m less likely to allow books and papers to pile at my “spot” in the living room.

2. Taking out the recycling. I don’t struggle with taking out the trash: it gets smelly before it gets full. But the recycling is another thing. My kitchen recycling bin can fill with recyclables in less than a week. Additional recyclables then are piled on the recycling can, table, chairs or on the floor. This adds to the clutter from above and makes me not want to do anything about straightening up.

3. Putting away clean laundry. I grew up in a house where laundry was done in an orderly fashion. It was collected regularly, sorted in the laundry room, promptly done, then folded/hung immediately out of the dryer and stacked in piles for each person in our house.

When I first started doing my own laundry in college, I was equally orderly in my laundry. But somehow in the last few years, I got in the habit of piling my laundry instead of folding it. This got worse when I hung it to dry instead of using the dryer: now it tends to hang on the line in my bedroom until I wear it or I have more laundry to hang two weeks later.

If my laundry is hanging in my bedroom, what drive to have to put away anything else in there?

These are the three habits I’ve found to be foundational, so they are the things I work on first when I tidy up (ideally 10 minutes a day). What habits are foundational for you? Are there any changes you can make to make these less of a bottleneck?

In a couple of weeks I’ll share one way I’ve learn to make laundry less of a hindrance to tidiness.