Category Archives: Home

Build Habits

{Photo Credit: Colin Dunn, via Creative Commons}

I am notoriously bad at remembering to take my vitamins, plus the iron makes me queasy if I take it in the morning, so instead of stashing them in the cupboard, I put a cup and my bottle of vitamins on the bedroom dresser, next to my lamp. Now, before I turn off the light, I swallow the vitamin for the day and go to sleep. I rarely forget. I never get queasy. I don’t know if my vitamin consumption habits have definitively helped improve my sleep quality, but I can say this: I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a long time. I used to wake up every couple of hours, and now I sleep straight through more often than not! I can’t tell you how exciting that is, but I digress.

My point wasn’t to take your vitamin at night to sleep better. My point is any daily task–like taking a vitamin–can be habitualized. I suspect tying the habit to a daily ritual (getting ready for bed) is what worked for me. Every night, I brush my teeth, I get fresh water in my cup, I take my vitamin, and I turn off the light. Then I go to sleep.

This made me wonder: what other simple, but often forgotten, tasks could I or others make habitual? And would tying them to a specific time, location, daily ritual, or other event help me (or them) continue the habit until it becomes second-nature? My guess is YES.

I’m going to keep a look out for those opportunities to hack my lazy brain into a mean, lean,  house-cleaning machine!

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Filed under Home, Life, Organizing, Ponderings, Uncategorized

In Praise of Imperfection

{Image: Robb North}

Oh, goodness. Has it really been a month already?

So much is going on, and yet, at the same time, not a lot is going on in my life. I’ve had bursts of energy, spurts of hyper-extroversion in which I enjoyed lots of time with friends, extended periods of hyper-introversion in which I spent lots of time perched on my couch with a laptop while thinking or writing. I’ve had ups. I’ve had downs.

I’ve tried to eat healthier lately. I found out I have a mild case of hypothyroidism, on which I’d love to blame my steady weight gain since graduation from high school. Alas, I know the truth. I’ve had one too many McDonald’s value meals and never met a brownie I didn’t like. But that, among other things, has made me realize even more that what we eat truly does affect us. I’ve also tried to work out more. But don’t ask me how many times I’ve been to the gym or out for a run this week, because I couldn’t answer you. Although I do plan on going today. But even if that doesn’t happen, I feel stronger just knowing I’m taking my health seriously and I’m focusing on nutrition and activity to overcome migraines, hormone imbalances, and excess weight. I’m not trying to have a perfect diet or activity level all the time, but MOST of the time would be wonderful! I’m sure I’d feel so much better if I did.

I also think I’m in a down-cycle right now creatively. I need lots and lots of down time. Outside of working on a novel and experimenting with “clean” or “Paleo” recipes for dinner, I’ve not been super crafty or even productive. I’ve been focusing on improving things that aren’t really blog-worthy. Like, for instance, finally getting the hang of staying on top of doing my dishes. I know. It is shameful. I’m a grown woman who hates doing the dishes. I think it is latent rebellion against my grandfather who would insist I help my grandmother with the dishes immediately following a meal when I’d rather be out running around in the backyard. Grandpa would be glad to know I have finally understood why he was so insistent about that. When my counter looks like a mess and my sink is full, it seems the rest of the house follows suit not long after. It’s a pride thing. I guess that’s why Fly Lady says to start by polishing your sink.

It’s true part of the down-cycle is simply burn out from being productive for so long. (Can I get an Amen?!) However, it’s also true that I’ve avoided Pinterest for long periods of time, cut back on my Facebook time, ignored Twitter, and let my Google Reader feed get backlogged. It’s really easy to be busy without really doing anything. It’s also tempting to want all the pretty things I can’t buy or make. Suddenly my blank walls seem depressing when I see decorated ones. My lack of a headboard for my bed is lame and lazy. My bathroom’s cabinet chaos is embarrassing. Yet when I tune out the social media influences, I find myself content with my bare walls. I don’t envy the amazing DIYer’s tufted headboard. I don’t worry that I have yet to create a cute and functional first aid kit and have instead used a hand-me-down from the 80s that holds the gauze and Band-Aids just as well. I rejoice in the fact that I am living within my means. I am using what I have. I am focusing on being grateful for the present reality instead of eternally looking forward to deceptively better future.

How about you? Have you embraced simplicity for stretches of time? Have you been inspired or exhausted by the social media noise? Do you feel embarrassed if you haven’t produced something tangible to show off in a few weeks? Do you long for just living in your imperfect home with your imperfect family and laughing away the imperfect moments?

You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. And you know what? I think it is healthy! Take a sabbatical from perfection and thrive in all your imperfect glory.

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Filed under Balance, Budget, DIY, Home, Home Improvement, Life, Ponderings

10 Quick Ways to Spruce Up Your Home Today in 10 Minutes or Less

Everybody loves a quick fix. I know I do. So today’s post is quick and easy. Here is a list of things you can do in ten minutes or less that will improve your home. These things frequently get forgotten or put off, but they all make a big impact from little effort.

What can you do in ten minutes or less?

1. Dust your lamps with a lint roller.

2. Vacuum your mattress. (Not kidding!)

3. Throw out any food in the refrigerator that is old or out of date.

4. Shine your sink.

5. Change your air filter.

6. Wash the doorknobs (betcha didn’t know they’re the dirtiest place in your house!)

7. Freshen up the trash disposal in your sink. (I drop in some coffee grounds or a lemon peel and turn on the mechanism for a few seconds. Works like a charm!)

8. Weed your DVD or Blu-ray collection.

9. Organize your spices.

10. Throw out junk mail. (Hint: I trash it as soon as I bring it in the house!)

Happy organizing!

If you’re new to this site, welcome! I hope you’ll look around. Start here to learn more about my organizing journey, or subscribe by RSS. See you soon!

{Image: Polina Ivanova}

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Filed under Cleaning, Home, Home Improvement, Organizing, Sorting

Home Tour Tuesday: The Entryway Hall

Is it Tuesday already? Crazy. But here goes … welcome to the Brame residence. Come on in and stay awhile! Here’s my little ol’ entryway hall in all its (non) glory. Our home is a builder basic house with its share of little quirks. Not the least of which is a funny curvature of the wall where the hall ends. The bottom is wider than the top. You can sort of see this in the first picture with the shot of the entire hall. Hmmm.

From the perspective of our kitchen and living room, looking down the hall, the dining room is on the left. (Or, if you prefer, it is on the right immediately upon entering.)

I knew that I eventually want to get a console table for the hallway, to hold miscellaneous items and pull the hallway together. For now, that dream table is going to have to wait; we are operating on a tight budget as we pay off debt, and I’m okay with that.

Not having money to buy new things has made me re-purpose those items we have. Hence, the use of two tv dinner folding tables we got for our wedding. Ta-da! Instant “console.” I added the crocheted lace runner from my grandmother to tie the two pieces together. The lamp is another item stolen from another room. Its mate is in our bedroom, but I like to have a softer light than our overhead light to leave on when we go out, so that it is easy to see when we first enter the hall when we return. The letter “B” was a thrift store find before I even met my husband. Funny how that works out, huh? The bulletin board is for storing notes and our gym’s class schedule (and most recently Christmas cards from friends). The basket in front of it is yet ANOTHER item stolen from another room. I use this one to hold keys until we put up a key-holder, but its siblings are in our bathroom, holding toiletries. Finally, the white plastic-coated wire “mail sorter” is actually a plate holder from The Container Store.

I’ve had this set-up in the hall for several weeks now and can’t imagine living without it. My keys are usually handy, as is an iPod for runs, and any outgoing mail or bills I need to remember to take with me to the post office when I make a Creative Salvage shipping run. Having a “landing strip” is an invaluable tool for staying organized on the go. I love mine, even if it is pulled together from the most unlikely culprits. Spending $0 on it was worth the sacrifice in other rooms, although I admit I’m really looking forward to purchasing new or new-to-me furniture and trimmings that will let me return the current items to their original uses.

I got the idea to create a landing strip from Apartment Therapy. If you’re not familiar with Apartment Therapy, go check out their site, but for now, here’s a video their founder, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan created to discuss the importance of having a landing strip in the entryway of your home.

Day 8 – 20/20 Home Cure – Fall 2010 from maxwell gillingham-ryan on Vimeo.

What vision do I have for this spot in our home in the months to come? Well, I pulled together a little somethin’ somethin’ with Polyvore. Take a look!

Entry Hall

We already have the sweet branch hooks from Urban Outfitters. I am working on finding a good, simple console table. They don’t call me the Craigslist Queen for nothin’ … I’m haunting that site all the time! I would add the baskets for storage, the umbrella stand for looks and practicality, a box to hold the dog leash perhaps, and if budget allowed, a new (fun) lamp and maybe a cool lighting fixture for the ceiling … like maybe a chandelier? Oooh, that would be nice. My big dream is to get rid of the boring, bland tile and install hardwood or laminate flooring. That may or may not happen, but I added it to the inspiration board, just in case. Oh, and the wire basket for files? I already bought something similar this weekend, and I’m excited to install it!
So, then the BIG question is … paint color. The hall expands into the main living space with our living room and kitchen, however there is that small edge where the hall ends and the wider kitchen/living are begins, so I could possibly use a different color.
Which color would you use? Each color patch is an option. I’m just figuring this out slowly, over time, so I make the correct choice.
And that completes this week’s Home Tour Tuesday! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you’ve checked out the fabulous free giveaway I’m hosting. The deadline is this Thursday at 9pm CST, so add your comment to enter the drawing today!
p.s. I’m trying out a blog photo layout from Pugly Pixel. Isn’t it pretty? Many thanks to Katrina for being so generous with her lovely creative freebies!

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Filed under Entry Way, Home, Home Tour Tuesday

A Happy Home, One Habit Adjustment at a Time

happy home

{Image: Krystian Olszanski, Flickr}

I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but I go to bed and just at that point where I think I might drift off to sleep, an idea hits me and I have to mull it over before I can fall asleep. Thirty minutes … an hour … TWO hours later … I finally collapse from exhaustion. It’s a problem; I know!

But some nights those ideas are really worth it. Last night was one of those nights. I was so excited about posting the book giveaway, but I recognized I needed to allow my mind to rest a bit, so about thirty minutes before I went to bed, I put down the laptop (hard to do when both you and your husband work at home and depend on your laptops to pay the bills), and I did something as my evening ritual that is still relatively new to me: I tidied up the main living areas, fluffed the throw pillows on the couch, wiped down the countertops, swept the floor, and did some dishes. I let myself unplug and wind down and got a few things done in the process. I hoped this would help me calm my mind so I could fall asleep sooner.

It would have worked, if I hadn’t realized that I had accidentally hit on something that I’ve begun doing. I had found at least one cleaning-type activity in most rooms of my house that I either already liked doing or wouldn’t mind attempting to do on a regular basis. What’s more, that one thing made a huge difference in the appearance of the room, and that one thing inspired me to do more in the room!

So, what ongoing habits have I either already established or am working on establishing that have made the difference for me? Here they are:

  • Bathroom – pick the towels and clothing up off the floor.
  • Kitchen – wipe down the countertops regularly with my homemade all-purpose cleaner, so I know they are clean and ready to use.
  • Living Room – banish paperwork from multiplying on surfaces. The coffee table isn’t always paper-free, but only the most essential pieces area allowed to stay, like bills that must be paid.
  • Dining Room – whisk items out. Once it becomes seen as a dumping ground, items multiply and we can’t use the dining room table for its intended purpose.
  • Bedroom – make the bed in the morning. I will admit … this one is very new to me. I’ve never been much of a bed-maker, to my deep abiding shame. But oh, what a difference it makes! And really, now that I work from home, I can’t use the “I go to work earlier than Daniel gets up” excuse.
  • Entry Hallway – create a make-shift “landing strip” with a basket for keys and a wire pot-lid holder for outgoing mail sorting. Now I know exactly where to look for that bill that needs to be mailed or that new insurance card I need to put in my car!
  • Office – only allow actual office stuff! This one is harder to enforce, since I currently photograph my vintage home decor for Creative Salvage there, but I try not to let the photo shoot take over for Daniel’s sake.
  • Coat Closet – hang up our winter coats at the end of the day. This sounds so small, but it’s really huge, since we prefer to use one of our living room side chairs as our “closet” and it is a daily battle to get those suckers back on hangers after each use!

I’m far from perfect. It is hard for me to focus on cleaning more than my other pursuits sometimes. Even though I work from home, the hours still fly by and the dishes go untouched while I work on editing item images, packing orders to ship, designing a brochure or writing copy for Daniel’s and my primary business, or drafting a blog post.

But these seemingly small habits I’m forming have begun to help our home be a happier home, one little adjustment at a time. And that’s really my goal for this whole process: I want our house to be a sanctuary where we can rejuvenate and relax and friends and family can stop by and feel welcome.

What habits are you forming?

Psst! Have you entered my giveaway drawing to win the book Organize Now! and a dayplanner yet? The deadline is Thursday, January 19th.

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Filed under Balance, Cleaning, Home, Organizing

A Tour, A List, and a Giveaway Announcement!

Wow. I can barely believe it. In just two days, this blog will turn 1 Year Old. I’m strongly considering making it a smash cake.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I’m rolling out a smorgasbord of goodies and new projects in the coming weeks and months. The move and the holidays took so much out of us over the past few months, but now that we’re all settled in, we’re ready to begin again with renovating and decorating and organizing. I can’t wait to begin!

I realized I haven’t shown off the new house on the blog yet, except for the office, so in honor of our one-year blogiversary, I’m launching a new series, Home Tour Tuesdays, to expose the rooms in all their bland glory and then we’ll revisit them again after projects are completed along the way.

Which brings me to The List. Daniel asked me to make a list to keep track of all the things I think need to be improvement upon in the house. The idea is to budget out into the future and pace ourselves financially. There’s just one “little” problem. The List is really, really long. Seriously. It’s so long I had to make it its own page so I wouldn’t bore you to tears in this post. We’ll be referring to and adjusting The List as we can over the next few years. As projects occur, I’ll link to them and mark them as in progress or complete.

My hope is that by the time we are ready to move out and into our first completely-ours home (as in, we bought it), we’ll have the list completed and the duplex will sell quickly to a new owner who will appreciate the updates and love it as much as we have. Fortunately for us, my dad owns the home and is in support of any renovations we will do since it will hopefully enhance his likelihood of selling his investment property.

Finally, stay tuned after this inaugural House Tour Tuesday for my very first giveaway announcement! It might be Behind Closed Drawer’s birthday, but we’re the ones giving away the gifts! Sweet.

My room-by-room tour will begin next Tuesday, but for now I’m starting things off with just a little teaser of what’s to come. I give you … our front door:

Welcome to our house! It’s not fancy, but it is home. When we walk over this threshold, we walk into a place where we work, relax, and live. There’s happy doggy paw prints scattered across the tile by the back door on rainy days; there’s dishes in the sink; there’s empty walls waiting for the money to fill them with artwork; there’s even dirty socks on the bedroom floor sometimes. But, above all, there’s love. Love and faith and family and friends and the things we’ve collected in almost two years of marriage that make the place ours. Our deep desire is for this home be a place where loved ones are welcome, where old and new friends can stop by for a cup of coffee and good conversation, and where Christ is always honored.

So, welcome, friend. I can’t wait to show you more! My initial 365 days of organization are nearly up, but each year brings 365 more. The journey is not over. In fact, with this new place of residence, it has only just begun. I hope you’ll join us as we discover what new things this year will bring.

Okay then, you’ve been very patient. Are you ready to learn about this fancy giveaway I’m doing in honor of my first year blogging?

Starting on Thursday (our first blogiversary!), I’ll be collecting entries to win this book by Jennifer Ford Berry, plus a few extra goodies.

You can cast your vote by commenting on the giveaway blog post on Thursday, and you will receive additional entries by sharing the giveaway blog post with others in your social network and posting another comment to let me know.

I’m so excited! Tell your family and tell your friends. Tweet it. Pin it. Facebook it. Spread the word. I’ve flipped through the pages of the book after purchasing it for the giveaway and let me say, it’s pretty good stuff to give your own organizational journey a kick start.

{Image credits to stoon for the frame, Ralph Aichinger for the key, and AssasinM for the bokeh background. You guys rock.}

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Filed under Entry Way, Home, Home Tour Tuesday, Organizing

Friday Finale + Etsy Organizing Love: Hello, 2012

Is it Friday already? Ka-razy.

This year I am very blessed to spend time with Daniel and my extended family for Christmas, so I am looking forward to that already. If you are blessed in a similar way and find yourself with some time to browse, here are a few things online that caught my eye this week, followed by a lovely treasury full of organizational goodies over at Etsy.

And now … some Etsy Organizing Love:

‘2012..Time To Organize! ‘ by Maddenphotography


Vintage 1960s Wooden Na…

$15.00

Black and White Key Rac…

$17.00

New Years Resolution – …

$25.00

wooden suit hangers. Se…

$16.00

Perpetual Calendar, Wal…

$12.00

Vintage Italian industr…

$38.99

Vintage Small Industria…

$10.00

Weekly Planner Chalkboa…

$54.00

Desk Organizer CRAFTING…

$59.00

COUPON ORGANIZER – Love…

$34.00

Yellow and White Pencil…

$14.00

unique journal -handmad…

$200.00

LINOCUT PRINT – Radiohe…

$22.00

Retro Globe Lamp

$52.00

Desk Accessories in Ash

$360.00

Ribbon rack organizer …

$29.99

Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.

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Filed under Home, Organizing, Uncategorized

Laundry, Dishes, Paper

These are the three things that are my nemeses. I have won battles, but the war is still going strong.

2012, please bring me systems or solutions, or just plain self-motivation to get them done in a continually ongoing and efficient way. My year of organizational endeavors is almost up, but those three things still mock me from the counter or bed or hamper or office desk every time they pile up and become the Goliath to my David.

I’m claiming the victory as mine!

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Filed under Cleaning, Home, Kitchen, Laundry, Office, Paper

Pinterest Can Help You Organize!

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? The wealth of cleaning, organizing, and home decorating knowledge to be found in this social networking site is astounding. I’ve collected sources for organizing help from all across the web and compiled them together for future reference.

Here’s a screen shot from just a portion of what I’ve gathered:

Here is a sampling of my favorite finds …

- Use a magazine holder to store canned goods in kitchen cupboards! From PBJ Stories.

- Hang kitchen cleaners in spray bottles from an adjustable shower curtain or tension rod. From A Thousand Words via Apartment Therapy.

- DIY Bathroom pocket holder for small items. From The Complete Guide to Imperfect Housekeeping. (Or, just use a portion of a cheap Wal-Mart hanging plastic and fabric shoe organizer. That’s my thought. I’m just lazy like that.)

- Use a multi-tiered pants hanger to store rolls of ribbon. From the Creating Keepsakes Blog.

See what I mean? There’s a plethora of information out there, waiting to be found, and full of pictures for visual learners like myself.

If you like this sample, I encourage you to follow my organization pinboard on Pinterest, along with those of others, to keep abreast of new ideas I find along the way!

 

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Filed under DIY, Home, Organizing

Moving in Progress Update

Well, folks, it’s been three weeks since we moved into this house and one month since I quit my day job. Here’s the progress, to date:

  • Kitchen fully unpacked. Still some organizing to do.
  • Living room unpacked. We plan on purchasing a rug and selling our current coffee table/end table combo; for now, though, they are doing just fine holding up coffee and lamps.
  • Dining room mostly unpacked. I’ve been ignoring the two upright laundry hampers that hold all the odds and ends we took out of the old house in a panic at the last hour. I should probably unpack those. Oh, and Daniel would probably appreciate me moving the broken down boxes and packing paper in a trash bag out of there. Probably.
  • Bedroom has two boxes left to unpack and a ton of clothing to figure out where to put it. Maybe I’ll just take it all to Goodwill. Oh, and I am storing ALL of our wall art in the bedroom, propped against walls. Again, Daniel would probably appreciate me moving that. Somewhere.
  • Office is 3/4 painted. We just have the IdeaPaint and green accents to add. Currently, it is a little crowded with all the vintage things I’m taking pictures of for my new little Etsy shop. Oh, you didn’t know I had a new little Etsy shop? Why, take a gander by clicking on this link or the one on the top of the lefthand sidebar. Please and thank you. Otherwise, and this will sound like a broken record, Daniel would probably appreciate if I put all those lovely vintagey things back in their storage space.
  • Second bedroom (oh, how I love having a three bedroom home now!) is sort of our storage facility for the time being. It is mostly inhabited by stacks of books on the floor and a large air mattress for guests. One day it will be a clear floor and a real bed. And probably storage for my Etsy stock.
  • Outdoors. We love our new grill! It’s grill out time in the Brame household at least once a week these days, while we stubbornly hold onto the last warm vestiges of Fall in Tennessee. I should probably rake those leaves.

And that about sums it up. Our current organizational progress is mainly of the “figure out where everything goes” category. The GREAT news is that we have only 8-10 boxes, total, that are still unpacked, and most of those are crafting and art supplies that are being stored on a huge industrial rack in the garage. We really only have 4 boxes unpacked in the house itself. So, technically, we’re pretty much moved in.

I have some Craigslisting of our furniture we’re selling to do, and I have some decorating to do, and I have some cleaning schedules to figure out, but for three weeks later, it ain’t too bad to have the house in livable condition. I’m thrilled.

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Filed under Dining Room, Home, Kitchen, Living Room, Moving, Office, Painting