Under the Kitchen Sink

I wanted a quick project that was still forward progress in this process so I took some time to declutter the cabinet under our kitchen sink this weekend. It’s amazing the things you accumulate! Because I want this to be our final declutter (aside from maintenance declutters) I was ruthless in my approach. My process was pretty simple. Instead of looking for things to throw away, I decided what I wanted to keep because I actually use it… not plan to use, or might use, or should use. Only truly used items made the cut.

First, I took everything out of the cupboard, and wiped out the interior. Gross.file3-1

Then I went through each basket and bin, and put the items I use in one area and the items I don’t in another. I boxed/bagged the cleaning items I don’t use to take to the hazardous waste facility, and then went through my keep pile again. I culled my rag bin because it’s silly to have 25 cleaning rags, and I reordered my cleaning supplies. Instead of keeping my cleaning supplies under the sink, I decided to try a new approach. I put all of the cleaning supplies I use in a bucket and moved it to the laundry room. So, instead of gathering products when I clean, I can just grab the bucket and take it where I need it.

The only items that remain under the sink are kitchen related: Dish soap, rinse aid, dishwasher detergent, counter cleaner, garbage bags, our watering can (because our house plants are all on our main level), and our plastic wraps, parchment paper, foil, and ziploc bags. It is so much more streamlined now, and when I open the cupboard I don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff.


All of the general cleaning items I use throughout our house now live on a cart in our laundry room. It simply makes sense to keep it all in one place. We still have too many, but now that they are all in one place, I will stop buying duplicates :).

How do you store your cleaning supplies? Would love to hear your tips/tricks.





‘Lagom’ playroom

Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount” and it is my inspiration for our “kid cave” (AKA basement family room). I want my three kids to have enough toys for a variety of play options, but not so many that they can’t appreciate, love, or care for them. Simple enough, right? Right. Now, my idea of what’s “just the right amount” is likely different than many others, but that’s the beauty of any concept/idea – you can interpret it to suit yourself.

I’ve spent a lot of time observing my kids at play, and what I have noticed is that they generally gravitate towards the same types of play: dress-up, building, and role-play. So it seems logical to divide the toys we have into those categories and keep what they TRULY play with, following two simple rules:

  1. No duplicates
  2. Nothing broken or in disrepair

I won’t go over everything in minute detail, but at the end of the day, we boxed up…

  • duplicate and excessive
    • baby doll items
    • play kitchen/food items
    • Barbies and accessories
    • dress-up items
  • toys that simply aren’t played with
  • toys that are out-grown
  • toys in disrepair or broken condition

I’m not going to lie and say purging toys is ever easy. I have done it a thousand times (that’s an exaggeration), but I always confront the same demons. That voice that says…

“You paid good money for that.”


“That was a gift.”


“They might play with it someday.”

No. No. And No.

This time I reminded myself that I had to be ruthless, keeping the end-game in mind. Fewer toys translates to less cleaning up and more meaningful play.

Here’s what we wound up keeping:

We kept 5 dolls as well as the doll accessories that are truly played with, are good quality, and in good condition (this included the stroller, crib, and high chair). We kept the Duplo Lego table and legos. We also kept an assortment of books. The play kitchen as well as a bin of play kitchen items also made the cut. Despite being significantly pared down, we still kept a lot of Barbie stuff. I feel good about what we kept though because the Barbies are well loved, and what we kept gets played with. We kept the magna tiles and marble run, and we kept a bin of dress up items. We also kept a handful of items that don’t fall into our three “keep categories,” but are used and loved.

Going into any purge of kid stuff, I always let my kids participate and have some say in what they are ready to say goodbye to. My daughter is extremely good about letting things go, but my oldest son gets more attached to things. So, at the end of the day we also kept a bin of super heroes and WWE wrestlers that I can’t say truly get played with, but that my son wasn’t ready to part with. And while we slimmed our stuffed animal and toy vehicle collection, we still have several.

I’m really happy with our progress this weekend. While I am certain we kept more than we should have, I can say with full confidence that we definitely pared down, and this space is closer to my idea of “just the right amount” of toys.

I hope you found something useful in this post, and I would love to hear any tips you might have for creating/maintaining a “lagom” playroom.

Until next time, keep it simple.



P.S. Confession – I wasn’t up to the challenge of tackling our games and puzzles just yet. That is another closet for another day.

Maintaining Organization

Judging by the hoards of people at Menards and Target stocking up on rubber totes and organizers this past weekend, I am quite certain many people have resolved to “get organized” in 2015. For many years, that was me too. I have always loved organizing, but my systems often failed me so “staying organized” was (year after year) always near the top of my list of resolutions. I can honestly say, I have not made that resolution for two years! Sure there are things I would like to improve and some systems always need modifying, but I have found a few key things that have allowed me to maintain order and organization within our home…

1. Decluttering is of utmost importance. Clutter attracts clutter so it is important to keep surfaces clear (save for the items that are really necessary or truly loved). My house may look a little sparse to some, but less clutter leads to less mess and less cleaning, and more time for me to relax.

2. Purge. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stuff you more than likely just have too much of it. Before you start organizing all that stuff, go through it. Donate or sell what you no longer need or truly love. Just pick one room at a time to go through, and grab a box. You will be amazed by all the stuff you own but have ZERO need or desire for, and the burden that will be lifted by removing that stuff will feel amazing!

3. Designate/Define spaces. Paper clutter drives me crazy so I needed to designate a space for bills and paperwork. For me, it was key that my paperwork be easy to put away and ignore. My paperwork is kept in a laptop computer hutch in the family room on the main level (easy to put away), and I can close it so that my paper piles aren’t visible (easy to ignore when they don’t need my attention). The filing drawer at the bottom is where I keep the files I am most likely to need.

4.  If a space is bothering you, determine what the real problem is. In most cases, the solution is highly dependent upon the problem and the person. Look at the mess and make a mental note of what it is comprised of, who the culprit(s) is/are, and determine why/how the mess occurred. Our master bathroom was really bugging me, but when I took a minute to critically and thoughtfully determine why it was bothering me, I discovered that it wasn’t my organization. In reality, It was a small (2 year old) problem with an easy fix. My daughter kept pulling everything out from under the cupboards while I got ready in the morning so child safety locks were a logical and easy solution.   *****I feel like I need to mention that we do not keep any chemicals or medicines in the cupboards which is why we hadn’t already installed the child safety locks)****** 

All in all, I would say getting and staying organized is a lot less about the systems you have in place than it is about your approach. My tip for getting and staying organized is simple: approach your space with a critical, thoughtful eye and never forget that LESS IS ALWAYS MORE.


Drop It Like It’s Hot

Sorry… I couldn’t resist going “college” for a minute. haha. Good times, good times.

Anyways, not long ago I posted about ways to reduce kitchen clutter. One thing I mentioned was creating a “drop spot” – somewhere to place your keys, wallet, sunglasses, etc.

Previously, I just had an occasional table on an awkward wall near the kitchen (in close proximity to the front door and garage entry). I recently moved that occasional table to our family room so we were left without a “drop spot.” Seriously, not more than 5 minutes later, his [the hub’s] wallet, keys, phone and chapstick were mocking me from the previously clutter-free counter.

[Confession: I am a serial furniture re-arranger… my husband stated (quite bluntly and not very nicely) just this week that every.single.day SOMETHING is moved, and he therefore cannot be held responsible for misplacing ANYTHING… I don’t agree…but I cannot deny that there is a bit of logic in what he said… just don’t tell him that.]

So, I decided to go budget friendly and semi-permanent. Meaning, I chose something cheap and not quite so easy to move.

Our new “drop spot”



…just a picture ledge. It really does work perfectly for our needs though. My wristlet, his wallet, and both our phones fit perfectly. The best part is that I have a place for a couple favorite photos AND there isn’t extra room for unwanted clutter.

I’m diggin’ it :).



Confession: I have a “stuff” problem. So much so that I am CONSTANTLY buying baskets to put my “stuff” in. I’ve come to the realization that I place waaaaay too much importance on material possessions, but they aren’t “important” to me.

I want to live simply…live with less, and do MORE of what I love. Enter my new goal: SIMPLIFY.

I don’t really know where to start, but I do know that I want this to be long term. So, I am going to start slow. If I purge too fast, I know myself well enough to know that I run the risk of going on a spending spree to replace what I purged. Classic Sarah.

My plan is simple. I am either going to donate or sell our “excess.”

I am slowly going through our home (systematically), examining its contents, and asking myself these questions:

1. Do I use/need it?

2. Does it add value (not monetary) or meaning to our life?

If the answer to either question is yes, then it stays. If the answer is no, then I ask myself another question…

3. Is someone likely to buy it? (Yes items are noted for garage sale)

If the answer is no, I ask myself one more question…

4. Could someone else need/benefit from this?

No? Trash. Yes? Into a box for donations it goes.

I am hoping this is just the beginning of something great for our family… time will tell. If you are on a similar journey or already living a “less is more” lifestyle, all tips, suggestions and words of wisdom are much appreciated. 🙂

This is definitely different than any kind of purge I’ve done before so, like I said before, I’m taking it slow. Radical change doesn’t happen over night :)…though my husband might say his Type A wife sometimes attempts just that…


Less is More

De cluttering can seem overwhelming. A few questions that immediately gave me pause when I started simplifying were: what defines clutter? What if it was a gift? What if I need it again? What if it holds sentimental value? What now?

Well, I have discovered that each one of those questions is (fairly) easily answered.

1. What is clutter? Anything that gets in the way of completing a specific task is clutter, and anything you don’t use or (really) love is clutter. (e.g. a centerpiece that has to be moved every time you sit down to dinner).

2. What if it was a gift? So what. Rest assured, the gift giver did not intend to give you something that would collect dust or that you would keep FOREVER. See answer to question 1.

3. What if I need it again? You likely won’t, but if you are worried put it in a box and let some time pass before getting rid of it. Also, really think about the word “need” as it is often confused with the word “want.”

4. What if it holds sentimental value? Objects don’t hold memories. You do.

5. What now? Donate it to benefit someone else or sell it to pay down debt.

When you are done, you won’t just have less stuff. You will have more time, more money, and more energy to focus on what really matters to you. Less is more.


5 Simple Fixes for Kitchen Clutter

1. Designate a drop spot near the entry you use most so that your mail, keys, purse and wallet don’t end up on the kitchen counter or table.


2. Mount hooks for your keys.

3. Your gadgets are likely to end up wherever the chargers are so avoid charging your electronics using kitchen outlets. I have found that one cell phone charging on the counter is HIGLY likely to attract other what-nots like keys and lip balm. We keep our chargers near the computer.


4. Avoid decorative objects on your counters and center pieces on your table. Clutter attracts clutter. If you start with a clean surface, misplaced items are more likely to be noticed and, consequently, put away. Same goes for canisters – try moving them to a cupboard or pantry instead.

And last, but CERTAINLY not least…

5. Resist the urge to create a junk drawer. If you already have one, purge it and find homes (outside the kitchen) for all that “junk.”

There you have it – 5 simple fixes for kitchen clutter. Easy peasy.