Tag Archives: clutter

Apartment Modifications Part 1

unnamedWith the move in progress, the kids and I visited Riley in Texas recently for a whole week.  He has been in corporate housing (housing provided by his work until he gets more established), and will be for a couple more weeks.

This housing arrangement, while temporary, was a bit of a shock for me because it is a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment.  There is no yard, there are people around us to be respectful of (tough to do with two little ones who enjoy running and hearing their voices at full volume), and not as much space.

While there can be benefits to apartment living (not having to worry when things break, for instance), our weeklong visit got me to thinking of ways in which my current simple living strategy would need to be modified for apartment dwellers, especially those with kids.  The rest of this list will come next week!

Playing outsideWe were lucky–the apartment we were at had both a balcony and a park within the complex.  That said, it was very warm, wet, and mosquito-y during our time there, so we did not spend as much time outside as we ordinarily do.  I can absolutely sympathize with those who cannot just open their back door and enjoy a backyard.  Modification:  We planned thirty minutes of outside time each day, and shared that expectation with the kids–a sort of accountability program.  And we packed the bug spray, so no excuses!

Keeping stuff in checkExtra stuff takes on a whole new meaning when you have a smaller space.  It enforces the “one in, one out” rule.  Modification:  There would be no room for error on this, if we were staying in an apartment for longer than a month:  we would have to pare our possessions down even further, and keep them pared down. Honestly, this is something that we would benefit from, regardless of where we were moving to.

GroceriesI had to haul four days worth of groceries up three flights of stairs, with both kids in tow.  That was enough of a feat in itself–I can’t imagine doing that with a couple of weeks worth of groceries.  Modification:  If I were staying in an apartment long-term, I would back off the “buy as much as you can to avoid shopping more often” rule, and would instead focus on saving money other ways, such as a store loyalty program or coupons.

Living in an apartment with kids for one week was a good lesson for me, and reminded me that everyone’s situation is different.  What works for one person, may not work at all for the next.  Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Kicking the Heels off (and Other Lessons from Purging)

homemade jewelry holder
My homemade jewelry holder is looking a little bare. Maybe I’ll downsize to a smaller one at some point.

I’ve been very slowly continuing through the zones I’ve identified using Marie Kondo’s decluttering method. Most recently, I used my Memorial Day holiday to attack 4 areas:

– Toiletries
– Makeup
– Accessories/shoes
– Jewelry

I was surprised at how purging these items affected me emotionally. While I’m definitely a below average American woman in the amount of time and money I put in these categories, there were times that some of these things meant to me more than they do now.

The most difficult thing to part with was my nail polish. Up until a year ago, I painted my fingernails weekly. Since then, I’ve only done it once. I’m not ready to say that I’ve given it up for good, but I also know that I won’t get back to that weekly habit. I had spent a lot of money on that nail polish and it has given me a lot of joy…but it’s not currently giving me joy. I decided to keep 8 colors that I can most likely see myself still using, and gave the rest to a family that would use them.

Most of my shoes fit in the closet, but these are the ones I wear more regularly.

I felt similar emotions cleaning out my jewelry. I simply don’t wear it anymore, apart from a special occasion. Some of the pairs of earrings that I got rid of had been some of my favorites to wear…in the past. I did keep a few pieces that I still really like and can see myself wearing.

One area where I really enjoyed cleaning out was my high heel collection. Why did I still own them? I always opt for a pair of flats when flip flops (or going barefoot!) is not appropriate. I had been holding on to them “just in case”, but all they have been doing since I moved them 2 years ago is gather dust. I now own 17 pairs of shoes…which still sounds like way too many (flip flops add up). I’ll continue to pare that down as most that wear out will not be replaced.

What things have been unexpectedly hard for you to get rid of?

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!

Birthday Thoughts

33Today is my 33rd birthday. I hope never to be embarrassed to tell others how old I am…why should I be?

Officially being a year older makes me consider how I’ve grown in the last year…and where I still have work to do.

Probably my greatest area of growth in the last year was financially. Which makes sense, as it was an area of emphasis. In the past year I’ve doubled my retirement and emergency savings as well as paid off $9,000 in student loan debt. I’ve tried to track what I’ve spent this year so I have a baseline for future years as well (more about that in January). Instituting my first “Buy Little” months this year were helpful to show myself that I can indeed live on less. It’s a habit I will continue.

As far simplifying, I’ve done better than previously, but not as well as I wish. I still have too much clutter in my life, though I’ve taken a lot less in than I ever have. I want to keep working through the Marie Kondo zones to tackle the clutter. I think I need to really work on reestablishing my habit of cleaning for 10-15 minutes every day to get a handle on things better. Inevitably, if I’m able to continue to get rid of things faster than I get new things, I’ll get there.

There are other areas, too, that I’m evaluating my life, but I won’t discuss them here as they are outside the scope of this blog.

What milestones have you accomplished this year? What do you wish to work on in the next year?

Photo by Stephan Mosel

Clearing the Clutter

One of my neighbors regularly keeps large appliances and pieces of furniture in his pick-up truck. Occasionally he must need his truck bed for other things, as I’ll see these items sitting alone in his covered parking spot.

I don’t know my neighbor’s story, but from where I stand, this seems completely ridiculous. Regardless of the value he sees in these items, they clearly are costing him time as he’s having to regularly move them out of the way. Of course, when he drives around with these things in his truck, he’s also costing himself money in reduced gas mileage.

But aren’t we all like that guy?

Diet Dr Pepper cartons

No, I don’t have any appliances or pieces of furniture in my car. But until a few hours ago, I had 7 empty Diet Dr Pepper boxes (completely useless, especially as I gave it up) in my trunk. Looking around my apartment, I have Christmas notepads in a pile on my shelf, dishes to be washed on counters and table, a jacket I haven’t used in months on a chair…


I try to keep my life free of knick knacks, which definitely helps in the clutter department, but how many times have I walked by that jacket and not hung it back up?

How easy is it to come home and to throw things down in a pile instead of putting them away?

For me, I know that getting my foundational habits in order is the first step (and I’m doing better on these, though not great). But I think my next step is to put something away every time I’m up from my usual seat at the couch where I read, blog and watch TV.

How about you? How will you cut down your clutter?

As for me, I’m off to put that jacket away. (And strongly consider which things I can get rid of altogether.)

Purposefulness in Apartment Living

sunny apartmentI live in a 580-square-feet, one-bedroom apartment. Some might consider that small, but I find that it’s really sufficient space for one person (I think it would actually be enough space for two, if that man ever comes along). I almost wish it was smaller because I would feel more freedom to get rid of things.

I don’t think I’ll live in an apartment forever as I do want to have a second bedroom for guests and a larger space for gardening. But for now, I’m quite happy to be where I am.

Advantages of Living in an Apartment

1. Hands-free maintenance. This is probably my favorite thing about living in an apartment. If something breaks, all I have to do is place a service request.

I’m not very handy, but I will definitely be learning some of my own maintenance when it’s time to buy my own place.

2. Living in close quarters. I know, that sounds crazy that I think that this is a perk, but it is. I love watching people come and go from my building and the parking lot.

Lots of people share horror stories of noisy neighbors (and I have had those), but I prefer older apartment complexes because they walls are more sturdy and transmit less noise.

3. Better use of resources. Because of those close quarters, I save money on heat. Between being sandwiched between other apartments and a very sunny apartment, I only run my heat for a few hours on the coldest of days.

apartment kitchenI also like that my apartment has a community laundry room on each floor, instead of machines in unit. I only run 2-3 loads of wash every other week, so I definitely don’t need my own set.

4. Perks. I like having a pool within a 3-minute walk of my apartment. While some houses have neighborhood pools, they don’t tend to be so close. My apartment also has a gym, if I ever wanted to take advantage of that.

5. Small spaces help you limit your belongings. The larger our space, the more we will feel compelled to fill it (and the less compelled to purge).

While I do hope to be a homeowner some day, I’m not waiting until that time to feel like I’ve “made it.” I don’t think that we should look down on apartment dwelling as second-class living.