2012 Home Goals

It seems like everyone is talking non-stop about goals lately.

Oh wait, that’s just me.

I shared over New Year’s weekend some of the categories I set goals for each year, but I had not really considered having goals for my home since we became renters again last year. Today I want to change that and thank The Nester for making me think differently about the importance of the space where our family gathers.

Living Room

1. Light

This move brought us to the beautiful, and sometimes dreary, Pacific Northwest. On top of the weather challenges, we chose a home in a development where the houses are physically very close together. I mean, let’s-just-lean-out-of-a-window-to-borrow-that-cup-of-sugar-from-our-neighbor-close. That means our family room gets almost no natural sunlight. I want to incorporate more mirrors, routine window cleaning, and any other technique I can find to bring in more natural light.

2. Simplicity

This sounds vaguely like a resolution instead of a goal, so let me be more specific. While I would love to wake up every day with every flat surface in our home clear of papers and forgotten items, I live with actual humans, so that is unlikely. However, I would like to work in one room per month with the specific goal of decluttering and organizing. I want to spend less time on stuff and more time with people. This goal will be reached specifically when I find things to sell or donate. It will also be reached when I recognize systems that aren’t working and improve them. For instance, SkipperClanJr really isn’t using the desk in his room for more than junk storage, so it’s coming out this week. Over the weekend, I found bigger labels for our Christmas boxes so we can actually read what each one holds. Much better than the tiny tape labels my label maker generates.

3. Routines

While I’ve incorporated a weekly cleaning plan that I like, it doesn’t happen every single week. I also find there are deeper cleaning tasks that are not currently on my schedule. I would like to track these better so that the routines are in place before we become homeowners again {someday, not in the immediate future}. I think this is just another area of becoming a person who finishes and a living example of what Jesus meant when he said,

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things”

Home Goals Party

What would you like to be different in your home this year?

Enjoying Christmas: Decorating

I love layering our home with Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Last year when we put the ornaments and lights away, we knew this Christmas would be spent in a new home. Things we didn’t use or absolutely love were given a new home. I still had about a dozen boxes. I really enjoy Christmas. This year, for the first time in five years, we the guys strung the roofline with lights.

To help this element of Christmas be more enjoyable and less like work, here are a few things we’ve done.

Use a wreath to display ornament collections. When SkipperClan wanted to go from our hodge-podge collection of ornaments to a purposefully coordinated set on the tree, I wanted to find a way to display our keepsakes. I found a wreath was a great way to keep that mis-matched collection. Using a wreath instead of a tree helped me pare it down to the ones that were truly special.

Add small trees. When we sorted through the ornaments, we separated the kids’ ornaments as well. For Kit Kat we used the wreath idea, but for SkipperClanJr we used a small tree. They each keep their ornaments in their rooms. I also have a small tree that has been close to our front door in the last couple of houses. It’s a very small tree that doesn’t have any room for ornaments and it’s pre-lit. It’s a simple, warm, and inviting addition to our Christmas decor.

Group similar items. We have a small wooden nativity that was a gift from my Father in Law. Another one is housed inside a white ceramic bell and was a clearance sale find at a dollar store over a decade ago. There’s one that has the stable and figures made to look like gingerbread men. Finally, one meant to hold a tealight candle in the back is a burgundy ceramic figure. These are grouped together on our entertainment cabinet this year. These diverse finishes become united just by being grouped together.

Shop smart. Whether you are looking to decorate for your first Christmas together or looking to add to what you have, I highly recommend shopping during the after-Christmas sales. Our Christmas tree, many wreaths, ornaments, and more were purchased during the post-holiday sales. If you are looking for things to use right away, consider dollar stores or thrift stores. Many inexpensive items can be found simply because other people grew tired of the decor they had. Which leads me to…

Give away. Any decorations you haven’t used in the last year or two probably need to find a better home than your storage space. Could your church or local food shelter use them? Instead of just dropping them off, maybe you could help put them up?

Store carefully. When it’s time to take the decor down, use tissue paper to protect surfaces from rubbing or scratching against each other. I put items that are used together in the same box. Stockings make great packing material for the stocking holders. A wall hanging that was made for us protects the angel we put on top of our tree. Specialized containers are great, but we have gotten those during clearance sales as well. Anytime you can use boxes that are similar in size, they will stack and protect contents better.

Christmas decorating can be fun to do together when it serves as a reminder the celebration, instead of being another chore full of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations.

When do you decorate for Christmas? What do you love most about it?


In striving to live more simply this year, I have made one major change.

I don’t enjoy shopping like I used to.

For years, shopping was a hobby for me. Unfortunately, I have the financial story to back that up. I loved going out to relax by browsing fashion at the mall or looking for just the right home accent. Many times it was another hobby that needed supplies, and of course I never had just the right items in my stash.

I am not saying having hobbies is wrong or that shopping for new clothes is evil, let’s just step down off of that high-and-mighty right now. We’ve all got something in our lives that needs evaluation.

For me, that type of shopping just made things worse in the long run.

  • I did not learn how to delay something today to have even better tomorrow.
  • I had lots of stuff that needed to be organized, cleaned, and maintained.
  • I spent time on things that I could have spent on people (even myself).
  • I bought into the idea that having certain things was the American dream.
  • I believed a good deal was anything $x.xx off the retail price, good fit or not.

This year has brought a real shift in my thinking. Now I wonder…

  • Can I get this free through Craigslist?
  • Where will I put it and what will it replace?
  • How can I use deal blogs or coupons to reduce the cost?
  • Where can I borrow this from if it’s not a consumable item?
  • How much does it cost per use and is it worth it?
  • Will the fun, enjoyment, memories from it be worth the cost?

I have been using an old phone for several months since the previous one just. quit. working. It was limiting what I could do with my business and managing our family’s busy schedule. Yesterday I got a new one for $30 that does everything. Deal.

We use wireless internet in our home for college work, high school homework, boosting our phone signal, and streaming media (since we don’t have cable or satellite). Yesterday the router which has been performing poorly for months, quit working. Through price matching another store’s sale at the BX, a gift card SkipperClan was given and a coupon for 15% off any item, we got a $90 router for $42. Deal.

SkipperClanJr has not stopped growing like a weed despite my pleas…so last night we had to go clothes shopping. After putting a shirt on hold at Kohl’s that looked great but seemed very overpriced for the quality, we found a similar item next door on Target’s clearance rack for $5. Deal.

Coupons are fun when you get free and discounted products you were going to buy anyway. Libraries are great for reducing the clutter in your home while encouraging learning and entertainment. Craigslist is a great resource for items you need in a community where people are constantly moving.

My goal is no longer just to see how entertaining shopping can be, but to see how I can use shopping to simplify my life and reach our financial goals more quickly.

#64-#68 Of One Thousand Gifts

God-idences (not coincidences) that led to us finding the technology we wanted for the price we needed

A teenager who is willing to be seen in public with his mom while clothes shopping

Bloggers who work hard to share great deals and ideas

People who toss perfectly good furniture on the side of the road for me to take home {project coming}

Having a husband who can get all the technology running smoothly

Organized Simplicity

I remember my aunts gathered in the living room of the little house in Florida. Their mother crocheting in the recliner. Their children running through the corridor from screen door to screen door. Me, sitting with the buckets, shelling peas alongside them.


Each year seems to go by faster and faster.
They grow up so quickly.
Can you believe another one is heading towards college?

Year after year we could rely on the steadfastness of that home. The unchanging green metal chairs on the porch, the shade of the tree in the front yard, the smells from the kitchen as families gathered. My children have known nothing of the sort.

Our military lifestyle has moved our home around the world. Grandparents have moved as well. Our possessions purged with each cycle of loading-unloading of the moving trucks. Technology changes both our tools and our information at an exponential pace. Nothing of our culture calls us to simplicity.

Maybe our Creator does though.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness… Matthew 6:33a

The challenges of our year have been blessings.

Selling our home simplifies our responsibilities in home management.
Back pain simplifies our family responsibilities, increasing our ability to serve each other.
Completing college degrees simplifies our dreams, narrowing the focus for the future.

These circumstances increased my desire to simplify our lives, to be intentional in my time with those in my sphere of influence. I purged clothes and craft supplies that had moved in boxes across oceans and continent. I focused for 31 days on choosing not to purchase the extras in life. I walked and prayed with friends new and old. I read. I am still reading.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4

His Word teaches me alongside the example of mentors I have never met face to face.

This handbook is one of my favorite reads this year. Part One asks us to consider “Living Simply in the Real World.” Part Two challenges us to take “Ten Days to a Simpler, More Organized Home.” There are questions for us to ponder so that simple living meets our intention, not just the author’s. There are tools to help us along the journey in our finances, our space and our schedules. We have a mentor on these pages. That is the greatest gift an author can give.

#7-#10 Of One Thousand Gifts

Military living which reduces the clutter in our home

Hardships that draw us closer to our God

Writers who share their journey to mentor us in ours

Steadfastness in our lives that gives us a glimpse of His

Ready, Aim, Organize Your Life

If you have ever worked to organize a space only to see it fall into disarray within days (or hours!), you know that organizing is an ongoing process. How would you like a tool to help that process seem more manageable? Ready, Aim, Organize wants to give you something to do just that!

Desk Calendar

The Organize Your Life 2012 Desk Calendar breaks organizing down into tasks that you can incorporate into your busy daily schedule. Here are some of my favorite features.

It is easy to keep in plain view. The calendar can be hung on a wall or propped into a standing position with the easel backing. At about 6 inches by 6 inches in size, it doesn’t take much space to keep handy.

It has a neutral color palette. The color scheme will fit in most decor styles and be pleasing to the eye. In a daily reminder system, you want a product that will grab your attention so you remember to act on it. However, no one wants a calendar that stands out so much it becomes the focal point of the room. This has just the right mix.

It combines weekend days into one sheet. Hopefully your schedule includes down time each week, whether you take a true Sabbath rest or family day. This calendar gives you one sheet each weekend so you can keep up the habit without feeling the need to sacrifice a drive in the country for organizing the coat closet.

It holds a mix of practical steps and encouraging thoughts. Some daily activities are as simple as making a call to cancel magazine subscriptions you don’t read. Others are reminders that you probably need to plan for less activity in the days immediately following the switch between Daylight Savings Time and standard time.

It functions as a calendar. While the focus is on a daily reminder to streamline and organize your life, the details you need to use this as a functional desktop calendar are beautifully designed. You can easily see the date, day and year. National holidays get a small note under the date.

It is easy to recycle. From the box and packaging, to the plastic stand, to the paper pages, I don’t see any element of this product that cannot be recycled. I also think that as you tear the pages off each day, you could easily drop them into a jar or box. The following year you could simply pull out one sheet per day and review that area’s functionality and level of organization.

It is well priced. Currently 13.99 at Calendars.com or TheTimeFactory.com and select stationary stores across the US, this would be a great gift for an office Christmas party or the family member whose name you drew for gift-giving. This breaks down to 4cents per day to become more organized – that seems very reasonable to me.

Now for the best part: giving one reader a copy of the calendar FREE!

Congratulations Jessica C.! We will be contacting you to get the calendar shipped to you!
(This contest is now closed)

  • Leave a comment here sharing how you think this tool would help you become more organized (required).
  • Follow SkipperClan on Facebook and leave a separate comment letting me know you do.
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, then leave a separate comment letting me know you did. Here’s an example: Win a 2012 Daily Organizing Calendar from SkipperClan and ReadyAimOrganize http://bit.ly/qaMYda
  • Visit Ready, Aim, Organize and sign up for their email newsletter, follow them on Facebook or Twitter and leave a separate comment here letting me know you did.

This contest is open until Thursday, October 6, 2011, at 10:00 pm PST. ONE winner will be selected at random and announced later that week. Open to US recipients only. Please read my full disclosure policy and contact me with any questions you might have. I received a complimentary calendar for review, however all opinions are my own!




30for30 Challenge

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love a good challenge. What better way to set and reach a goal than to have some accountability? I shared with you a couple of weeks ago that I was not sure how much to purge from my closet. How much should I keep while I regain my strength and health over the next few months?

Overwhelmingly, the response was to get rid of it!

I worked this weekend on sorting and was quickly able to put about one third of what I had in a pile for donations. I went back to my friend Pinterest for a little outfit inspiration and came across the 30for30 Challenge.

How to take the 30 for 30 challenge:

1. Take 30 items in your closet.
2. Make 30 outfits.

If you’d like, give up shopping for the duration of the challenge. Then take that money you’ve saved and take a bath in it. Or put it in a savings account, whatever you think is the more responsible choice.

I have about 25 items selected so far. I took a few photos to help me remember the different ways I can mix and match the outfits. I will not be counting jewelry, scarves or coats in the 30 items but I did select three pairs of shoes and two purses to count towards my 30 items. I also figured that undies and workout clothes are freebies. So, for the month of October I will be seeing how far I can stretch what I already own.

What do you think, could you take this challenge with me?

Office Makeover Part 2

I shared with you recently how much I love the inspiration I get from Pinterest. I thought it would be fun to show you how I used the site to organize my office.


This is the main wall-o-stuff when the project began. I wanted to avoid using plastic drawers if at all possible while organizing my business and craft supplies. However, the advantage plastic storage has is that the contents are more easily seen…and therefore more easily accessed. I knew my makeover had to include more open storage while using a very small budget. Pinterest gave me dozens of ideas, here are just a few of them.

I shared with you in Part 1 how I got my Expedit bookshelf for $20 and that I have more purging to do, but for now I am happy to have like items organized and accessible.


 So here are some of the Pinterest inspirations with the results in my own space.


Office Version with Quilt Rack built by my Father In Law:



Office Version with $2 IKEA racks found at a yard sale:


Office Version with a bucket I already owned:


 My Office Version with a great Goodwill Find:

This piece was a really good deal – it was 50% off this price!



Office Version with Art by my Kids

Did you notice the egg carton on the sewing cabinet? That is for another Pinterest project I hope to finish this month. My goal is to complete at least one Pinterest project each week with Julie over at Dutch Being Me.

Have you used Pinterest for browsing but not for creating yet? Is there a recipe or craft you’ve seen in a magazine but haven’t just done it? What’s stopping you? Put it on the calendar this week and let me know how it goes.

Speaking of What to Wear

One of the items on my 52 Projects List is to declutter the clothes I own. I recently read several great articles on the topic including this one over at Simple Organized Living.

In our previous home, we minimized the clothing we owned because we had only one deep, standard closet in our master bedroom. I am so excited to have a full, walk in closet here. I did not hope to own more clothing simply because I have the space. Instead, I planned to enjoy the fact I could place a hanger on the rod without having to drive a wedge between hangers already in place. I think the picture shows what has happened during the first few months here.

Driving across the country for our move and limited mobility from back pain the last few months was not exactly beneficial to my weight. There are a lot of things in my closet that just do not fit. Most of them will fit though with very few pounds lost. I am finally able to do a workout where I actually sweat (not just recovery-level physical therapy). Most of us wear only about 20% of what is in our closet, but for me that is definitely the case in the short term. I want to go through the clothing I own, purge what I do not need and organize what I am keeping. I truly feel I am in a temporary situation of not wearing most of what I own though. (I am already down a few pounds since my workout intensity increased). So, I thought I would ask you what I should do.

Should I keep the things that don’t fit or do a complete purge, keeping only what I can wear?

Office Makeover Part 1

Remember how I told you last week about my barstool makeover? The great thing about a project like that is how quickly you can make a dramatic change. Now, remember when I asked you to share your thoughts on plastic storage drawers? Well, that project certainly led to dramatic change. Unfortunately, for most of the week it was just the kind of change where one organizing project led to another.

I wanted to hide the storage drawers in the office, but that meant I needed to get the shorter set from the garage. That meant I had to swap the contents out and clean the one I wanted moved to the office.

I wanted to put a few boxes of memorabilia and seasonal supplies into our front closet where the vacuum was stored. To make room for those boxes, I needed to move forward on organizing the upstairs linen closet so that our vacuum would fit there.

As I determined which shelves, bins and boxes worked best on the expedit bookcase, I was able to utilize some of the remaining stash to add storage in other rooms such as the garage and a bedroom. As I emptied cabinets and storage bags, I needed to take pictures and post ads to Craigslist.

Finally, as I organized like items together and put them in the individual cubes of the shelf, I realized I need to do a second round of purging! Pulling it all out eliminated at least one third of the items from the space through recycling or donation. Each category (scrapbooking, stamping, cross stitch and business) has items that are no longer my style or I know I won’t commit to working with in the next year. I am using the one year mark as a guide because I believe after that amount of time, it is likely my tastes will change further and it is not worth storing it. It would be better for me to spend a few dollars for an item here or there over the course of the year than to have so much in the room that I am distracted from my goals.

One of my best friends in the world is here to visit for a week, so I plan to do a final update in a couple of weeks. For now I’d love to know: what project have you started that turned out to be a lot more work than you expected?

Storage Drawers

If there is one thing in life with which I have a love-hate relationship, it is plastic drawer systems.

SkipperClan just has a hate relationship with them.

Why on earth am I blogging about them? Well, I got a steal of a deal on Craigslist this week when I scored an IKEA Expedit bookcase for $20. I hoped we would be able to use it in SkipperClanJr’s room, but it just won’t fit.

That means it is time to tackle the serious decluttering and organizing of my office that has been needed for the last…well, six years!

In 8 days, my best friend will be here for a visit-YAY! That means I have the deadline that is critical for me to actually finish a project like this. I thought I would share this project because I think we all have ‘that space’ that just never seems to get or stay organized. Hopefully there will be some tips you can use, even if you don’t have an office. So come back next week for the finished project.

So that takes me back to the topic of this post: storage drawers. Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Where do you use them? If you have them showcased on your blog, share a link.