Appliance Closet

As our homes have gotten bigger so have the the number of different things you can put in them. I am not telling you to go buy a bigger place to store all of the things you own. In fact, I would tell you to go through all of the things you own, keep only the things you want and love… then spread them out giving them (and you) room to breathe.

Today I want to talk with you about one way you can create space for you and your belongings to breathe by helping you to create an Appliance Closet.

I’m big on assigning meaning and purpose to spaces to help you keep things organized and able to find those same things when you want them. For example, in your kitchen you probably already have a silverware drawer. You probably actually have some sort of organizational product inserted to keep your spoons separated from your forks as well. This is one area that people do not generally expand on. You have a set or two of silverware based on the number of people that regularly eat in your home and that it’s it.

Small appliances are another beast. Yes, beast. You have been inundated by infomercials and home parties and door-to-door salesmen. Oh wait, we don’t really have those anymore. Instead of the door-to-door salesmen we have friends who make us feel like we have to buy something to support them. You have the freedom to choose to not give in to peer pressure or people pleasing by purchasing something you don’t need or want. There are other ways to love and support your friends. (A sweet hand written note and a few bucks can go a long way!)

After you have decided what small appliances you want to keep because they work well for your family, you now can decide the best place for them to live based on how and when you use them. Perhaps you have a closet off of your kitchen that isn’t being used as a pantry. This a great place to designate at your Appliance Closet. You can accomplish the same idea with a small bank of cabinets as well. Put your most used items where you can reach them easiest. Chest and hip level and in the front. Put your heavier items that are lesser used closer to the bottom. Your lighter weight and least used higher up.

Do you already have an Appliance Closet? If so, what have you enjoyed about that space? If not, does this make sense for your household and the space that you are working with?

Squatters or Residents: Why it can be so difficult to let things go

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve noticed that I like a good analogy. I find it easier for people to understand what you are saying if they have a category to put it in. As with any analogy, sometimes you can’t carry them over one-to-one but the spirit is what we’re going for. When helping people see that they get to choose what stays in their homes and what leaves their homes this might be a good way for you to think about it.

Are the items in your home Squatters or Residents?

A few months ago my family got a notice that there had been squatters on property near ours. No one knew them, they had just set up a temporary home and were living on property that didn’t belong to them without having any permission. We wouldn’t have even known they were there since they had set up camp in a location that we didn’t see. To our knowledge they weren’t doing any harm. But it is illegal so they had to go. As residents in the area, those who own property and houses, we belong there. We have a known purpose, are paying to be there, and are active in the community.

Items as Residents
This part is simple. The items in your home that belong there as residents have purpose, are beautiful or functional. You have chosen for them to take up space in your space. You know what they are, where they are, and how you use them.

Items as Squatters
You probably have a lot of stuff in your house that you don’t even know is there. It’s living in the back of cabinets behind another pile of things. It’s living under the bed or in a box that has started to fall apart. It’s in the bottom of your purse or sock drawer.

But, it’s not doing any harm, right? Well, maybe not that you know of. But what if what you don’t know is there is actually something you could use and have been looking for. Harm might be a strong term or it might not be.

A few ways these squatter-items can bring harm.
1. Taking up valuable space that can be used for things you know and find useful or beautiful.
2. Taking up space in your mind or time in your thought process that can be spent on something else.
3. If it is something you could use but you don’t know it’s there, it is now time, money, and energy being spent looking for it or repurchasing it.

Are the things in your house squatters or residents? Do you know these items? Do they belong there? Do they serve a good purpose for you, your family, and the way you want your household to run?

You are the home owner so you get to decide if something is truly a squatter or resident. But until then, those items you don’t see and don’t know are there… they are just squatting on your property.

I hope you had fun with this analogy and that these terms helped you make a connection with letting go of things that don’t belong in your home.

Not Your Usual Suspects

During the month of April I ran a series on social media using #covidcleanout in which I posted a different area to focus on cleaning, decluttering, or organizing each weekday. They were not meant as a challenge but prompts for those who were looking to get some things done and just couldn’t figure out where to work next.

Instead of a month of prompts, I decided to do a list for you of things that you might not think to do or things that don’t get done very often. I divided them into categories for you. To clean, to repair, to change, and miscellaneous.

To Clean
trash cans – Bag up the trash and get right on in there. Sometimes a good garden hose can do the trick and sometimes you need to scrub it.
gutters – I did mine six weeks ago and they need cleaning out again already.
pots/pans – A little Bar Keeper’s Friend or something similar helps to shine up most pots and pans. Be sure to read all instructions for safety.
vacuum – If you have any hair in your home you’ll want to clean it out of your vacuum head. Grab a screw driver and some scissors because you might need to do some disassembling.
furniture – Vacuum, shampoo, spot clean.
walls & cabinets – A simple damp wipe will do most times.
ceiling fans – Whether you use a pillow case, a duster, or a vacuum, now is a great time to clean your ceiling fan blades and lights. While you’re at it, switch the direction for the summer.
oven – A lemon half and some baking soda make a quick and easy cleaner for an oven.
dishwasher – Get those crevices where gunk can build up.
washer and dryer – More crevices, get in there and clean them out.
your email – Create filters, unsubscribe, and delete, delete, delete.

To Repair
rug pulls – A needle and thread are going to be your best friend. Thread those pulls back into the rug if you can. Cut only if you can’t figure out a better way.
jewelry – Untangle knots with the help of a sewing needle, find a video to help you repair what you can DIY, and take the rest to the jeweler for professional help especially on those prized pieces.
clothes, throw pillows, bags, furniture, stuffed animals – replace buttons, tie up loose threads, repair holes, replace accessories and zippers
shoes – Re-glue soles, replace broken or worn out shoe laces, give a good shine, and take the others to the cobbler that you aren’t able to do on your own.

To Change
rekey your lockbox – It might be time to update that code for your lockbox. Make it memorable and give the new code to people who need it.
switch fan direction for summer – Counterclockwise for summer, pushing air down.
air filters, water filters, vacuum filters, any filters – Be sure to check on your not-often-changed filters to see if it’s time to change them.
smoke detector batteries – It’s a good idea to check these once a month and change them once or twice a year. A good time to do that is when we change the clocks. Go ahead and give your detectors a check.

trim and repot plants – Making sure to check the specific plants you are caring for, give them the proper care for this time of year.
tighten screws in door handles, drawer pulls, and face plates – Believe it or not, those screws that were perfectly tight when you installed them can loosen with use. Grab a screw driver and tighten them up.
level oven – I’ve lived at my home for years with an uneven oven. I think I tried to level it at one point but I couldn’t get it to work. So this might just be me. 😉
secure drawer liners and inserts – Drawer liners that do not have an adhesive can bunch up causing more frustration that they are worth. Be sure to secure them so that they can provide maximum protection and beauty.
shred – Plug up that shredder and go to town!
make a tax guide for 2020 based on 2019 tax filing – The IRS gave us an extension this year. Take some of that time to make a list of things that you need to keep up with for your 2020 taxes so that you aren’t scrambling next March to gather all your documents.
touch up paint – Grab your touch up paint and touch up!

What are some unusual things that you did with your free time during the pandemic?*

*I fully recognize that there were plenty of people who have the same amount of time or less time during the pandemic. Also, time does not equal capacity.

When We Finally Get to Look Back

It took me a while to come up with a title for this post. Things like “That Time I wrote a Book in a Week” and “How a Printable Turned into a Book” and “How Will You Remember This Time?” all sounded good. None of those titles quite fit what I wanted to convey.

This is the story of My Pandemic Time Capsule, A Guided Journal. It’s a quick one, as you may have gathered by the alternate titles, and I wanted to share it still. I want this to be a testimony to the way that this time has been different for everyone and even within one person’s life.

For a week or so I had seen a printable floating around the internet for kids to fill out and look back on later in life. It was certainly for younger children as it included drawing your feelings and listing out your favorite color and food. I wanted something for adults to be able to have as well. I mean, how cool would it be to have a record of someone from their time living through the Spanish Influenza 100 years ago? After a quick search and finding nothing except for a short article with ten questions, I set out to create my own time capsule for anyone old enough to write on their own.

I envisioned this to be a blog post and a printable. Short and simple. As the questions kept coming to my mind and as I brainstormed with a few people in different walks of life it morphed into an actual book to be printed. That all happened in one day!

What was the process like?
1. I kept a spreadsheet of all the questions and added to them as they came to me or were suggested. These questions are meant for anyone who can write on their own. The questions put themselves into categories that were simple and helpful. For example, it is easier to fill in a lot of questions with basic information such as “Where were you when you first heard about the virus?” and “Who are you sheltering in place with?” than it is to answer questions like “What do you miss most right now?” and “What is helping you to cope?” So I put each question in one of four categories.
Basic Information: Simple questions about basic information about the pandemic and you.
Activities: What kinds of things have you been doing?
Community: Anything to do with the community around you.
Thoughts and Feelings: You may spend a little more time on these as you think about your own thoughts and feelings surrounding your life during the pandemic.

2. Groups of people came to mind and questions specific for them were added to the list. Multiple groups of people are directly affected by this pandemic. I wanted to give them a set of questions that were more directed to their stories. No matter the circumstance before, life has changed. Maybe it was a big change for you, maybe it was a little change. The questions in these sections provide an outlet for you to write out, maybe process a little, and look back on in years to come.
The Parent: Whether your kids are home for the first time or now staying home more than normal, family life has changed.
The Employee: Whether you are an essential worker or someone who has been furloughed or somewhere in between, work spaces have changed.
The Business Owner: Whether you had to shut down or amp up, business life has changed.
The Student: Whether you were homeschooled or in a building, school life has changed.

3. I didn’t have the time or energy or ability to print and ship these books on my own so while I was coming up with questions, I was working through the self-publishing process with Kindle Direct Publishing. Thankfully there is a direct process with lots of guidance (especially when you’ve had a friend that has done the process before!) to get the book out to the people.

A few more days, several dozen more questions, and a lot of work later the book was ready to be released. What had started with a simple printable idea had turned into a guided journal that people could actually write in and keep for when we finally get to look back.

To get your own copy, just click here.

Rainbow Wall

Over the past month we have found ourselves in an unusual, unprecedented time that has left us with a lot of unknowns, sadness, and potentially fear with the Covid19 pandemic. I wanted a creative way that I could keep track of the days, the thoughts, the good, the hard, and the truth.

This is my own rendition and compilation of different things I found around the internet. You could always just write these things down in a notebook too. This is just something I have been doing. There is nothing magical or prescriptive about it.

Here’s the list and some description to fill it out a little more for you in case you would like to do something similar.

Believe (red/pink)
What truth about God did I see today?
What truth do I need to believe?

It is easy to let the world speak louder to us than the truth of who God is. This helps me to pinpoint one truth each day to believe and focus on. On the wall opposite of this I have scripture (truth) written on index cards.

Celebrate (yellow)
What is something good that happened today?
What am I thanking God for?
What brought joy/life?

It is also easy to only think about or remember the bad parts of our day. This prompt reminds me that there is good and to thank God for it.

Sun & Fun (green)
How did I get outside?
How did I move my body?
What did I create?
What’s something new I tried?

Being in the sunlight and moving your body are important for so many reasons. So are trying new things (win or lose) and creating things. This could be a craft or recipe or a game or song.

Lament (blue)
What loss or pain did I grieve today?
What am I crying out to God about?

There is a fine line between lament and complaint. My purpose on this card each day is to express my sadness (usually in a flood of tears earlier in the day) and remind myself that God cares, hears, and loves me through it. I don’t stay in that sadness though. I grieve it and move on. And I might find myself sad about the same thing the next day but I will still grieve it and move on.

Connect (purple)
Who did I check in with or connect with today?
This is a simple way to record who you’ve been in touch with. Who did you text or FaceTime with? Who did you send a card or get a phone call from? As the days run together this might remind you to check in with specific people too.

In what ways are you keeping track of the days, learning as you go, leaning into the slowness, and processing what’s going on in your life right now?