I'm a wife to a U.S. Marine and mom to two boys! We are a military family, living in our 7th home in 11 years! I specialize in renter-friendly, movable, and budget-wise décor and organizational solutions that are high on style, function, and simplicity.
One of the main ways I transform our rental spaces is via window treatments. Whether it’s long curtains or trim cornice boxes, adding some texture, color and pattern on top of every window is a great way to not only personalize a room and make it feel cozier, but also add some instant style relatively easily. Long curtains are usually my preference, but sometimes the windows themselves or the overall design of a room call for something a little less dramatic and fussy. In these instances, I tend to rely on simple valances to add that design jolt I crave without the fuss of yards and yards of fabric. The wonderful thing about valances is that they require less fabric than most other window treatments, aren’t as cumbersome to hang, and are super simple to DIY! Today, I’m sharing the latest tutorial in my Home Decor Sewing School series by showing you how to make a window valance (the quick and easy way)!
A few weeks ago, I gave you all the latest peek at our current rental kitchen. The wallpaper certainly created the biggest visual change in here, but the valance above the window also helped the room feel more complete.
There is nothing particularly fancy or functional about valances…they are literally just strips of fabric above a window. However, they are the ideal place to use a large-scale, eye-catching, unifying fabric to set the tone or feel of a room and/or bring lots of different elements together.
I chose to hang our valance on a curtain rod to match the other window treatments throughout our lower level. However, there are many ways to hang valances, including rods, rings with clips, tension rods and even Velcro if you really want it to be a quick, simple, and totally temporary DIY.
Valances are not only a great solution if you want a quick project that uses very little fabric, but it’s ideal on windows where long drapes would get in the way. You may typically see valances on kitchen windows, as well as any windows above counters, couches, and in kid spaces where longer curtains might be in the way.
There are many, many ways to make a window valance (including just throwing some fabric over a tension rod!), but this tutorial outlines how I prefer to do it. This method features a lining on the back of the valance and a rod pocket to make for clean lines and simple installation. That said, these instructions could also be easily adapted to fit your specific needs. Like all the other projects in my Home Decor Sewing School, I tried to break this down to make it as simple as possible for the novice or everyday sewer. If you can measure and sew a straight line, you CAN do this project, I promise! Let me walk you through it!
NOTE: My flowered window valance was VERY wide (about 70″!) making it really hard to photograph in a way that would be truly helpful to you. So that you could see exactly how this window valance comes together, I re-created a (much) smaller version with some scrap fabric.
To make a window valance, you will need the following supplies:
Curtain fabric – This fabric (also referred to as fabric A) will be the main fabric seen on the front/outside of the valance. Use the measurements guides below to determine how much fabric you need. In order to avoid having to match seams across a large window, you may need to purchase enough yard length to fit your valance width.
Drapery lining fabric – This tutorial uses inexpensive drapery lining (also referred to as fabric B) for the underside of the valance. The lining helps with construction and creates a nicer backside of the valance (which might be seen from the outside of the window). You don’t need anything fancy here so ask the fabric store staff for the most inexpensive drapery lining they have!
Blackout drapery lining (optional) – If you use a thinner fabric that allows a lot of sunlight to shine through, you may need to use blackout lining instead of or in addition to the regular lining.
The first step is to measure your window and cut out the curtain and lining fabrics!
In order to cut your fabric, you need to know how big you want your finished valance to be. In order to do that, you need to measure your window! First, measure the window width. Typically, you want your finished valance to extend at least 3-5″ past the window casing on both sides (if possible). The length of your valance is certainly up to you and your aesthetic preference, but a 20″ length is a good starting point.
TIP! It is MUCH easier to cut off extra length than add it back on, so if you aren’t sure how long you want your valance, leave a few extra inches and trim it before hemming!
Once you have your finished valance measurements figured out, use them to determine the cuts of your fabric. You may certainly tweak these equations, but these are the measurements I typically rely on. In the diagrams below, fabric A represents the curtain fabric, and fabric B represents the curtain lining.Hopefully the above equations make sense to you. If a more concrete example helps, here is how I would cut fabric to create a valance measuring 20×10″ (finished):
The biggest thing to note is that your curtain fabric and lining fabric will be the exact same HEIGHT, but the lining fabric will be LESS wide than your curtain fabric. If you were to lay the lining on top of the curtain fabric, it would look like this:In fact, here is my curtain fabric (blue) and my lining fabric all cut and ready to be assembled into a valance!
Sewing the Valance Together
With RIGHT sides together, line up the top and bottom of the curtain and lining fabrics (they should be the exact same height). Next, line up the two left edges of fabric and pin together; repeat on the right side. (Unless you are making a valance that is as long as it is wide, you should be pinning the shorter sides together). You’ll notice that because the lining is cut smaller than the curtain, it will no longer lay flat once it’s pinned together on both sides (shown below).
Using coordinating thread and a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew down both sides of the valance.
Remove the pins and flip the valance right-side-out. Next, use a hot iron to press the seams smooth and flat.
Because your lining was cut smaller than your curtain, about 2″ of the curtain fabric will end up folded toward the back (that’s what you want!). This gives your valance a nice finished edge but also keeps the constrasting lining well-hidden from the front.
When pressing your seams flat, you want to make sure that you have an even amount of the curtain fabric on both sides. Notice in the picture below, I have the same amount of blue fabric folding toward the back on both sides of the valance. Depending on the size and bulk of your valance, getting these seems pressed and even may take some work and patience!
The picture below shows the backside of the valance. With everything pressed and smoothed, it should lay flat. From the front, you should only see your curtain fabric (not shown).
Finishing the Top and Bottom of the Valance
With the sides taken care of, the next step is to finish the top and bottom of the valance. For this step, a sewing gauge and hot iron will be necessary.
On the top of the valance, fold the fabric (both the curtain and lining fabrics) down 1/2″ and iron in place.
Then, fold the fabric over AGAIN another 3″ and iron in place.
Adding Blackout Lining (Optional)
At this stage, you would be wise to hold your curtain up to a window to see how much light is coming through. I *thought* my dark fabric plus basic drapery lining would be sufficient to block most light, but boy was I wrong! The light was pouring through my valance, which didn’t make it look very nice at all! To make your valance opaque, you will need to use blackout lining.
There are two options for using blackout lining on your valance. The first is to use it instead of regular drapery lining. However, I worried that I’d end up with transparent edges where the lining didn’t extend. The other option is to trim out a rectangle of blackout lining and insert it inside of your valance before sewing the top of the panel. To use this second option, simply cut out a rectangle of blackout lining similar to the dimensions marked by the red dotted lines below.
Before moving onto the next step (where you sew the top hem in place), slide the blackout lining between the curtain and draper lining layers. Take care to make it flat, straight and as far to the top of the inside of the valance as possible.
With the blackout lining in place, pin the top hem (that we measured out a few steps ago) in place, and stitch in place. Not only does this stitch line hem the top of the valance, but it holds that blackout lining panel in place.
You will want to stitch as close to the hem’s edge as possible. I used a contrasting thread so you could see it. But because your threads will be visible from the outside of the valance, be sure to use thread that matches perfectly with your curtain.
At this point, the top and both sides of the valance should be sewn up and looking clean and tidy! Let’s finish the bottom edge.
Similar to the top, first fold over and iron 1/2″…
Many of you long-time readers know that one of my biggest organization “passions” is meal planning. I’m not entirely sure why, but for years I have been on a never-ending quest to streamline our meal planning and shopping as much as possible, constantly trying new services and systems to cut time and effort wherever I can. Well…after tons of trial and error, I’m thrilled to report I might have finally found my panacea for making grocery shopping truly easy and efficient. If you can believe it, I’ve stepped into a grocery store just a dozen or so times in the last 9 months (seriously!!!), and that’s because I’ve fully converted to online grocery shopping. I’m beyond smitten with our new routine, and I don’t know if I will ever go back to conventional grocery shopping again. Today, I want to break down how I shop for our family’s groceries online and chat about the pros and cons to consider if you want to try it too!
PS. This post is NOT sponsored by Walmart or Amazon. I’m just sharing my honest and real opinions and experiences so you might benefit from quicker and easier grocery shopping too!
What I Use
As I’ve mentioned multiple times, grocery shopping is pretty much my least favorite household responsibility of all. From the moment I start planning our meals and compiling our list until the groceries are shopped for, loaded, and put away, the process is just plain long, exhausting, and exasperating to me. When Greg first left on deployment last Fall and I was embarking on 9 months of being a single parent, I was looking for any way to eliminate stress and make our lives easier. A lot of families in our neighborhood used Amazon Fresh, so I decided to give it a try. After planning out our meals and building my grocery list in my normal way, I logged onto our Amazon account and filled my cart with everything we needed. The next morning I opened my door, and all my groceries were sitting on the front step waiting for me…perfectly packaged to ensure nothing spoiled or crumpled. All I had to do was bring the bags in and put my groceries away.
As much as I loved opening my front door and finding my groceries waiting for me, there were a few aspects of Amazon’s service I just couldn’t get over. For one, they often didn’t have some of my usual items available. So more often than not, I found myself going without, making substitutions I wasn’t thrilled about, or running to a store to grab the items myself. I also had a bit of a hard time with the excessive prices. I certainly loved the convenience of grocery delivery, but not at the cost of a significantly increased food bill. Finally…and this was the biggest thing of all for me…the amount of packaging and trash was excessive. Amazon does a beautiful job of packaging their groceries. The dry foods were packed just right so that nothing was crushed, and the cold foods came with cool packs and dry ice. While effective and impressive, as I broke it all down and tried to figure out what to do with everything, the amount of waste…on top of the increased prices…was hard to justify as a regular, long-term solution.
I was just about to switch back to regular ol’ grocery shopping when my girlfriend said she used Walmart Online Grocery. I’ll be honest…Walmart is not my favorite place to shop, and I was seriously skeptical of everything from the service and selection to food quality and prices. Still…she raved about it, and I was curious, so I gave it a try too. 9 months later, it’s pretty much my favorite thing ever, and now I’m raving about it too.
How It Works
There are a few differences between Amazon Fresh and Walmart Online Grocery, but the main difference (from a usability standpoint) is how you actually get your groceries. With Amazon, they are delivered to your doorstep. With Walmart, you have to go get them. But if someone else is going to get all my groceries, bag them up, and load them into the car for me…for free…I can handle going to pick them up. Here’s how it works.
I first make sure my local store is selected, and then I choose a specific time window when I want to pick up my groceries. Time slot availability certainly changes with the seasons/holidays and how much staff Walmart has on hand; but these days, I can almost always get a same-day pickup window. I usually place my order on Sunday morning and can pick it up between 4-5pm that evening. There are 12 time slots a day, running from 8am – 8pm; and you can reserve a slot 7 days in advance (if you’re really on the ball!)
With a time slot selected, I have about an hour to fill my cart and checkout. After that time, the time slot is usually released and you have to pick another one that is available (which is why I don’t usually log on until my list is planned out). To fill the “virtual” cart, you can use the search bar to look for specific foods, or (if you’re a regular shopper), you can shop directly from Favorites to fill your cart with the things you normally/often buy. Very easily, you can compare prices, increase/decrease quantities, remove items from your cart, etc. Once I’m done shopping (which usually takes about 10 minutes), I pay via credit card and submit my order.
Once my order is filled and ready for pickup (which is almost always about 30 minutes before my scheduled time slot), I receive a text and an email saying my order is ready. I “Check In” (via the app or by calling) to let them know I am on the way. Once at Walmart, I drive to the designated pickup spots and alert them I have arrived. Typically within minutes, a Walmart employee emerges with my order. They review any substitutions (all of which I can accept or deny), and load up my car. I sign that I received the order and drive away with my grocery shopping complete and my sanity in tact!
Pros of Online Grocery Shopping
There are many, many things I like about using online grocery shopping…especially from Walmart. Here are some of the main pros!
Ultimate convenience. I love that I can sit down anytime, anywhere and place our grocery order. I’ve fallen into a good Sunday morning routine because that works for us, but I could also do it bright and early or late at night from the couch in my PJs, or sitting on the porch while the kids are riding bikes. And just as I can place an order whenever it works for me, I can also pickup when it works best for me. For a while, we were picking up groceries on the way home from church. Now, one of us usually goes and grabs them while we’re finishing up our Sunday chores like laundry and house cleanup.
Walmart is everywhere. Unlike other grocery stores that offer pickup, Walmart is (pretty much) everywhere. By using the zip code locator, you can find any store that has Online Grocery Pickup near you. When I was traveling over the holidays, I put in an order at my sister’s local Walmart. I selected everything and I paid for it, but she picked it up. When we arrived late at night, all of our items were waiting for us, meaning I didn’t have to travel with our favorite snacks, diapers and other essentials or run to the store the minute we arrived!
No more dragging kids through the grocery store. Need I say more?
Substitutions. It is inevitable that something you order isn’t in stock by the time the employees get around to picking your order. In these circumstances, they will usually substitute another product for the item you requested. It’s been my experience that they usually substitute with similar flavor (instead of brand or count); and most of the substitutions are in line with what I would choose if I were standing in the aisle myself.
Price adjustments. Let’s say I order a gallon of milk for $4. If Walmart doesn’t have the gallon available, they will likely substitute 2 half-gallon cartons. If those cartons cost $2.50 each (for a total of $5), Walmart will honor the $4 I intended to pay for the gallon. Seriously. And they do this all the time. Just this past weekend I got a 24 oz clamshell of blueberries for the 10 oz price because that’s all they had left!
Selection. Walmart seems to carry almost everything I normally shop for. I have yet to come across a product or brand they don’t carry. Sure, items might be out of stock from time-to-time. But in general, their selection is vast and comprehensive!
You can reject anything. In the instance that the substitution they pick isn’t what you want or had in mind, you don’t have to take it. Likewise, if the produce they selected doesn’t live up to your standards or you simply ordered the wrong thing, you can reject any item when you pick it all up and they immediately take it off your bill.
Produce. Speaking of produce, I’ve heard people say “I don’t trust anyone to pick out my produce!” Admittedly, I am not super picky about our produce, but everything that has been picked for us has been excellent. We’ve never gotten a bag full of bruised applies or mushy peppers. In my experience, the produce quality picked for me is just as good as what I’d pick for myself.
Reduces duplicates in your kitchen. This just might be one of my favorite aspects of all: shopping online really allows me to make sure that I not only have everything I need for the week, but it also prevents me from buying duplicates I don’t need. “Hmmm….are we out of mustard? Let me go check! No, we have mustard, I don’t need that this time around!” Being able to walk around the house and check for staple items before I buy them has truly made our shopping more efficient and budget-friendly!
Price comparisons. When I shop in “real life,” I don’t always take the time to compare unit prices. However, online grocery shopping makes comparison shopping so quick and easy that I find myself doing it more. At a glance, I am able to see which product is the better bargain!
No impulse shopping. If you’re not walking past the bakery with fresh bread or cookies, it’s harder to throw those items into your cart. Likewise with any foods/items you don’t want or need to be buying. By ordering online, you aren’t exposed to fancy displays and alluring promotions; and having a single snapshot of your cart allows you to really evaluate what you’re buying before checking out. Removing items from your cart is as simple as a click, rather than having to walk items back to where you found them.
Forgot something? If you genuinely forgot something after your order has been submitted, hope is not lost! You usually have a few hours to edit your order before it’s picked!
Quicker. This probably goes without saying but online grocery shopping is so much faster than traditional shopping. I have found our weekends go by so much smoother and our chores get done so much faster when I am not spending precious time hauling myself (and my kids!) through the grocery store. While the Walmart staff is picking out and bagging up my groceries, I can be busy doing other (often more fun!) things!
No more exhaustion. Think about how many times you touch each item during traditional grocery shopping: take item off the shelf and put into the cart | take item out of the cart onto the conveyor belt | (sometimes) move items into bags | move bags into your cart | move bags into the car | move bags into the home | unload each item | put each item away. It’s exhausting! With online shopping, by the time I get home to put my groceries away, I am touching/lifting the items for the very first time. Using online shopping has eliminated the exhaustion factor for me.
It’s Free. Yup. Free. Seriously. I don’t have to physically shop for or load my groceries, and I don’t pay a single penny to have it done for me.
Cons of Online Grocery Shopping
All that said, online grocery shopping isn’t perfect. Here are some cons to think about as well!
Not getting exactly what you want/need. On occasion, the substitution the Walmart staff chooses is not exactly what I would choose for myself…OR…sometimes a product is completely out and no substitution can be made. In these instances, I am simply left without the item(s) for the week. In the case of a snack or treat, I just forget about it and order it again the following week. But if it’s an item I need for a specific recipe or occasion, I will have to get it somehow…which usually involves another trip to another store. I hate going to more than one store to grocery shop, so unless it’s something like milk or diapers, I usually find a way to work around the missing item!
Timeframe availability. Every now and then, I will log on and not be able to get my “usual” pickup time. While this is certainly annoying, there are usually many other time slots that will also work for me. If you like to get your grocery shopping done in a very specific window each week, you will have to learn when exactly you need to place your order in order to guarantee that time slot. Otherwise, you’ll have to be flexible in your planning!
System glitches. In 9 months of using Walmart’s Online Grocery, I’ve experienced 2 system glitches. And as you can imagine, when an online shopping system goes down, there is no way for the staff to fulfill orders. In these cases, it has been inconvenient and annoying, but the staff has gone above and beyond to notify me and/or make things right (usually in the form of store credit).
Hot and fresh items. At our Walmart at least, you cannot order items from the hot/deli counters, including rotisserie chickens. I personally don’t buy these types of food so it’s not something that impacts me. But it’s something to consider if you rely on these foods regularly.
Pay attention to sizes. When you are standing in a store, you can see how big or small an item is. But when you are ordering online the pictures may not indicate size and/or the listed size may not be helpful to you. When I first started ordering my groceries online, I had a few occasions when the item I got was significantly smaller than what I thought I ordered. After a few times, I learned how to pay attention to serving size and note how many pounds/ounces of meet I require to feed our family.
Order minimums. I am not sure about other stores and services, but Walmart has a $30 minimum order to take advantage of the free pickup. Since I only shop once/week, I can easily meet this requirement. However, if you shop more frequently or just need a few things, this option may not be available to you.
You have to pick it up. When I first explained to Greg that I had switched from Amazon to Walmart, his response was “But now you have to go pick it up.” Yes – that’s true. But I found picking up our groceries…usually when I’m out running errands or coming home from something…far outweighs the extra cost/packaging Amazon incurred by delivering them instead. At this time, as far as I’m aware, Walmart doesn’t have a delivery option, so yes…you have to go get your groceries yourself.
Coupons. I don’t use coupons so I can’t talk educatedly on this point, but from what I can tell (based on some minimal research), you can’t use coupons or gift cards on online grocery orders. Whomp.
Phew! I didn’t realize I had SO much to say about online grocery ordering. But honestly friends, using Walmart Online Grocery has completely changed the way I plan and shop for our groceries…all for the better. What was once one of the biggest stressors and time-sucks of my week has become something I hardly think about or dread. And I just can’t get over this easier and more-efficient way to get our kitchen stocked! I don’t think I will ever go back to conventional grocery shopping again!
So tell me….have you tried online grocery shopping? Do you love it? What were some of your pros and cons? Which store/service do you use or like the most? If you haven’t tried online grocery shopping yet, consider this your little push to try it just once. I promise…it might change your life!
When we were cleaning out the garage a few weekends ago, I was so excited when I stumbled upon two empty plastic shoe boxes (I knew they were out there somewhere!). Why? Because I originally had 12 of them, but when I was recently organizing my clothes in my dresser drawers, I could only find 10. With all 12 in place, my dresser drawer storage system felt “complete,” and it occurred to me that I’ve never really shown you my favorite way to quickly and easily organize drawers. Sure, I’ve been known to come up with clever and easy DIY solutions…but really…my favorite method is to use off-the-shelf bins and baskets to create customizable and changeable dividers within a drawer. Let me show you what I mean and give you a tour of my newly organized clothing drawers while I’m at it!
One thing I have learned from moving so many times is that we need serious flexibility when it comes to our organization systems. A dresser that holds office supplies in one house might become a bedroom dresser in the next. A trunk that holds games now may hold pillows and blankets in a guest room later. Our kitchen cabinets may have space for our entertaining supplies in this house, but our next one might have a much smaller layout. Figuring out the right organization solution for every space in each house is actually one of my very favorite parts of moving so much. But it also means I don’t like spending a lot of money outfitting each and every nook with “perfect,” high-end or very specific-fitting organizers. Mainly because there is just no guarantee we will be able to use them over and over again (especially if they are designed to fit something that doesn’t move with us).
Over the years, I have come up with some pretty clever DIY solutions for organizing drawers. Not only does the DIY approach allow me to truly customize a drawer for my specific needs, but the materials I tend to use (cardboard, foam core, balsa wood, and paper) are pretty inexpensive and easy-to-find should we need to either abandon or expand the system in future homes.
While DIY drawer organization solutions are often easy, inexpensive and fun to pull together, they do take some brain power, skill, supplies and…time. Sometime I have that time in abundance and sometimes I don’t. So when I need to create more order in a drawer ASAP and just don’t have the time, desire or supplies to create a custom solution, I turn to unsuspecting off-the-shelf products instead.
My Easy Way to Organize Any Drawer
Below is a shot of the drawers where I store my clothes…can you spot what I’m using to create dividers within the drawer?
Let me take everything out for you. There…now you can see!
After playing around with a few options I had on hand, I quickly discovered that four of the clear plastic shoeboxes I bought from The Dollar Tree years ago fit perfectly in these drawers. Their size is big enough to hold pretty much everything I store in these drawers, and their height is shallow enough to allow the drawers to open and close with ease. Instead of having to DIY something to fit these drawers that won’t move with us (they are built into the master closet), four $1 boxes created the dividers I needed in order to keep my clothes sorted and tidy (and looking oh-so-nice!)
In addition to the idea of using off-the-shelf bins inside your drawers, there’s one thing I really want to highlight. In the previous photo, do see that channel along the right-hand side of the drawer? Sure, I was bummed when one or two more shoeboxes wouldn’t fit there. But honestly, I didn’t need them to. The edges of the shoe box create dividers, and items can sit both within the boxes and outside the boxes (within channels created by arranging the boxes!) These boxes are so well-fitting that the 5th compartment maintains its size…and just happens to be the right spot for all my cardigan sweaters!
I used the same arrangement in my bottom drawer. There are four shoeboxes hold bathing suits, pajamas, and hats. That 5th compartment became the perfect nesting place for all my scarves and wraps! Whether you use as many bins that can fit within your drawer or just one or two, you can use clever arrangements to create compartments that can perfectly corral a variety of items.
Keeping Bins In Place
But what do you do when you can’t find PERFECT fitting boxes for your specific drawer? It actually doesn’t matter! Well…the height of your bin, box or basket DOES matter because you need to be able to close the drawer. But the other dimensions can vary greatly…they just needs to fit within your drawer, hold what you need them to, and create other usable spaces if necessary.
In my top drawer, I didn’t have quite as much to store, yet I found the shoe box size still ideal for undergarments, socks and stockings (I tell you, these shoe boxes are PERFECT for a variety of clothing items!). To keep everything a little more accessible, I lined up the four boxes across the front of the drawer (instead of two-deep like I did in the other drawers). This arrangement left me with about 5″ of space behind the boxes. I could fill that space with something else, but I don’t have anything else I need to put there (thanks, KonMari!). But all that space meant the boxes kept sliding around each and every time I opened the drawer. So…to keep the boxes in place, I just placed some adhesive-backed Velcro under each box.
BONUS TIP!One of my friends also said she uses shoe boxes to store undergarments in her drawers. When moving day comes, she pops on the lids on the boxes and they can be packed right up!
Every time I open my clothing drawers, I just get so excited. Not only do I really love everything that is in there (thanks to my ruthless decluttering), but the organization solution was just so simple and works so perfectly. Not only has this $12 solution ($12 for 12 boxes) created some serious and easy-to-maintain order in my drawers, but they can come right out and move with us. And since they are clear, a generous size and we have a a lot of them, I know we’ll be able to use them in other homes we live in!
Same Concept, Different Drawers
Regular readers will certainly notice this isn’t the first time I’ve used this bins-in-a-drawer trick. In fact, I find myself continuing to use it over and over again as I work my way through the last few spaces in this home! Here are just a few other places I’ve used the same idea!
Notice both above and below, the boxes didn’t fit perfectly. Nonetheless, I was able to arrange them in a way that created empty compartments I could still fill and use!
The base drawer in our bathroom is extra deep, so the more shallow Sterilite boxes were a poor use of space. I discovered these deep acrylic bins (that I bought to organize our bathroom two houses ago!) were a perfect fit. Can you spot the three different boxes I used. The far channel is just another example of employing that leftover space!
In our kitchen, I actually discovered that these super inexpensive drawer organizers from IKEA fit the depth just right, but the available widths were just a bit too skinny. By securing the dividers to the drawer with Velcro, we were able to make one more compartment perfect for storing longer, bulkier items!
Finding the Right Bins
Once you have the right baskets in hand, this type of organization project really couldn’t be simpler. Just place them in your drawers, play around until you find the best arrangement, secure if necessary, and put your things away. However, finding “just the right” basket can admittedly take some work. Here’s some tips and tricks to keep in mind while shopping or hunting through your garage:
The main thing you need to focus on is size (obviously), but most specifically: height. Make sure your baskets are shallow enough to allow the drawer to close, but deep enough to hold what you need to store.
Speaking of storing items, consider what you need to put in the drawer before selecting bins. If you need to organize small supplies like paperclips and rubber bands, smaller baskets would be ideal. If you need to store clothes, toys, or bigger items, more generous-sized bins will be required.
Don’t make yourself crazy looking for the exact right sizes to fill up your drawer(s). Experiment with various configurations and embrace empty space by finding the right item to put there!
Keep the baskets consistent. Surely you can use whatever you can find; but if you’d like your drawers to look clean, streamlined and simple, use bins in all the same finish/color.
If you move a lot and might need to reimagine your arrangements regularly like we do, I also suggest buying a lot/extras (as in, 12 or more). This will give you flexibility in both applications and arrangements without having to use different baskets.
Here are some of my favorite “generic” bins that are perfect for organizing drawers!
You guys know I love a good bin or basket and use them pretty much everywhere. Even if you aren’t a crazy basket lady like me (is that a thing?), I hope this post demonstrates that you don’t need fancy, expensive “drawer organizers” or fussy DIY projects to create some order in your drawers. It’s been my experience that finding inexpensive, sturdy bins to fit drawers is pretty easy; and with some experimenting, you can come up with some pretty amazing arrangements to take advantage of every inch you have!
Have a great weekend, my friends! See you back here next week!
Well, hello June!!! Are your kiddos (or the kiddos near you) out of school for the summer yet? We’ve got two more weeks, and you better bet we are all ready for longer days, warmer weather, pool time and more relaxed schedules! With the end of school and start of summer on pretty much everyone’s mind, I thought it was the perfect time to share this fun, quick, easy and oh-so-silly gift idea for kids. We actually made these for all of Henry’s friends for Christmas this last year, but I think they would be equally fun as party favors or to celebrate the last day of school. This silly string gift for kids couldn’t be easier to pull together (especially last minute!), and it’s also a pretty budget-friendly idea if you need to make a bunch for all the neighborhood kids! Oh…and it probably goes without saying, but the kids will LOOOOOVE it and think you’re the coolest Mom on the block!
Passing out cans of Silly String is probably sufficient to say “Happy Summer.” But adding the sunglasses and a “Game On” tag made them feel more like thoughtful gifts and really encouraged the kids to break the cans open and have a silly string fight right away!
I found the Silly String from Target’s toy section (2 cans for $3) to be much cheaper and performed better than Party City’s version. Bulk packs from Amazon are a great option for parties, scout troops or classes with lots of kids (24 cans | 48 cans).
For the sunglasses, I picked these up at Party City for $0.05 each. Yep – you read that right…5 cents. They are nothing fancy, but they worked for the 5-minutes the silly string battle lasted, and the kids really got a kick out of them. Here’s a great bulk option, as well.
I’m not known for quick, short tutorials but this one really is. All you need to do tie the can of Silly String to the sunglasses with some ribbon or twine. If you’re feeling creative, add a tag or label with each kid’s name or a cheeky phrase. I made the Game On tags using the “GameOn” image (#M453F6) from the Sports Mania set in the Cricut Design Space library.
On the last day of school, simply pass out the cans to all the kiddos and let them have fun!
TIP 1! I do suggest having extra cans on hand. Not only do some cans malfunction once you start spraying them, but some extra kids are sure to show up once a silly string battle breaks out!
TIP 2! If you can, keep the kids on the cement. Once the string dries up, it’s much easier to sweep up on hard ground then pluck it out of the grass!
These were such a fun gift at Christmas time, and I am definitely considering making them again to kick off our summer break! Although…water balloons could be another fun and unexpected surprise for the kids as they arrive home from school! Do you do anything fun to launch your summer and celebrate the end of another school year?
Alright, friends…today’s post is short and sweet! I hope you have a great weekend. For the first time in what feels like a month, we aren’t undertaking any huge home projects. I might actually just relax instead! #probablynot #alwayssomethingtodo See you back here next week!
It’s been a while since I’ve done an informal behind-the-scenes update. And since we’re all probably rolling a little slow this morning coming off the long holiday weekend, I thought it was the perfect time to catch up! So if you need a little distraction at the start of the work week, grab a coffee (or your beverage of choice!) and let’s chat about what’s going on in our life behind the blog!
Life After Deployment
It’s now been about 6 weeks since Greg returned home from his latest deployment. And to briefly sum up our “Return and Reunion” (what the military calls the post-deployment period), I would say “awesome.” But you guys know I am anything but brief, so I’ll fill you in a little bit more.
Every deployment is so unique…with its own highs and lows, trials and successes…most of which are dependent on the type of deployment, length of time apart, home life, location (his and mine) and community support. This deployment was particularly busy for both of us. Greg’s job was incredibly stressful and demanding, and life with two kiddos and a business to run left me with little time to be lonely, bored or sad. While all this hustle certainly made the time fly, it also prevented Greg and I from remaining as connected as we’ve been on past deployments. Early in the deployment, I think we both worried that we weren’t talking, writing, or bonding “enough.” However, we’ve done this enough to know and understand there is a certain amount of detaching you simply have to do in order to make it through, live your life, and do your job (his: military service, mine: keep the family going). The circumstances necessitated that we detach a little more fully this time around, and so we did…clinging, trusting, hoping that we’d find our way back together again once it was over.
But you guys…9 months is a long time…long enough for me and the boys to really settle into a new way of life. And I’ll admit, as Greg’s return got closer and closer, I was pretty anxious about reuniting and putting our family back together. I worried our reunion would not go as smoothly as it has in the past. Did we live our own lives just a bit too much to truly come back together as a family? Had I become too independent? Did we still know how to work as a team? Do we still know how to live together? Do we still love and like each other (scary and weird to ask, but true)? Did I do enough to keep the boys connected with their Dad? And on and on and on.
Here’s the craziest thing about deployments though…and I think many military families would tell you the same. Once deployments are over…they are over. All the waiting and anticipation and the worry and the stress are gone. Gone…almost the second they walk through the front door. Sure there are a few days that feel weird and awkward and uncomfortable…but really, it’s just a few. Yes there are things to talk through and adjust and compromise on, but you figure it out. Before we knew it, we settled back into our usual roles (slightly altered of course as the kids, lives, and circumstances change); some things look and function exactly as they did before he left, other things are new and we’re still adapting day-to-day. Life keeps moving forward into a new normal…and that new normal came quicker and feels sweeter than I expected. I am so grateful…and relieved!
We’ve had deployments in the past where we felt broken and defeated by the end. This time around, we’ve emerged feeling full and proud for the hard work we both accomplished and oh-so-grateful to have our family happy, healthy and back together! It feels awesome to close this latest chapter in our story and set our sights on new adventures and challenges that are surely just down the road!
The Organization Toolbox
It’s been just about 2 months since I launched the new Organization Toolbox, and I wanted to not only give a quick update but also share a huge, heart-felt “THANK YOU!” Transitioning the Toolbox to a paid platform was something that was very hard and scary for me. And although I could come up with a million reasons why it might not work, I felt in my heart of hearts that it was the right decision for me, the blog and my family. To say that I’ve been blown away by the success of the Toolbox would be an understatement. So many of you embraced me, my products, and my idea; and I seriously do a real life “happy dance” each and every time a new membership comes through.
Many of you long-time readers know that I have worked tirelessly on this blog for almost 7 years…most of the time doubting my skills and underestimating my achievements. It feels like I have floundered and failed over and over again as I tried to find the right combination of authenticity, enjoyment, and profitability amidst an ever-changing blog landscape that is as infuriating as it is inspiring. The Toolbox is the first big projects I have undertaken that truly, genuinely “clicks” with who I am, what I want to do, and how I want to spend my time. To see it take off so brilliantly has left me humbled, awe-struck and so gosh-darn proud (which really takes a lot for me to say!). It feels like I finally got something right!
So…thank you, my friends. Thank you for supporting this endeavor. Thank you for cheering me on whether a membership was right for you or not. And thank you for allowing me the platform to share my talents and passions with those of you who truly appreciate it! (And speaking of the Toolbox, a Summer Boredom Buster kit hits the blog next week, and it’s one of my favorite kits yet!)
Okay. Enough mushy stuff. How about some other, more practical updates!
I have been trying to launch a Paperwork 101 series for for.ever (and I know some of you all are waiting for it). What’s holding me back from getting it going? I just can’t decide the best way to do it (I know that sounds silly, but these are the things I agonize over). My gut reaction is to do an 8-part blog series. But since I only do 8 posts a month total, it would either swallow a whole month or drag out forever. So then I thought about an email-style “workshop,” but I hate that the content wouldn’t be on the blog for casual readers to access. I also thought about adding a Saturday post just for this series throughout the summer but I’m a little worries about adding in extra work when I have kiddos home for the summer #workathomemomproblems. So…I figured, I’d just ask you! Whether you’re interested in this series idea or not, I’d love a response on the questionnaire below! (If you’re reading this in a blog reader, please click through to access the survey!)
Around the House
There are obviously lots of benefits to having Greg home, but one of them has been a renewed effort to work around the house. There are certainly many projects I am capable of and willing do to myself, but there are others that are simply easier, quicker and more fun to do with him. In the weeks since he’s been home, we completely revitalized the backyard by power-washing the entire area, re-arranging furniture, laying some mulch, and installing a (free!) playhouse we got from some friends. The result has been a lot more time spent out back which has been an amazing change for how we live and use this house!
This past weekend, we undertook a massive…and I mean massive…decluttering and reorganization of our garage. I was finally ready to get rid of loads of things we’ve moved over and over and over again yet have never made their way into the house. Although I’m not quite sure Marie Kondo would approve of everything I kept, finally letting go of so much created the space we needed in order to truly maximize space and function in there. I didn’t document a ton of our decluttering because we were working so hard all day long, but we did do some pretty cool organization-related things out there that I think you guys might find useful!
Look for more on both of these spaces coming soon!
Phew! So that’s a quick-ish glimpse at what’s going on in the Duester-house behind-the-scenes! It’s certainly been a busy and exciting time for our family, but we’re generally feeling pretty whole, happy and content these days. And boy…what a nice way to feel!
From the moment I first saw this photo on the Walls Need Love’s Instagram account, I wasn’t able to get the idea of a wallpapered “tile” backsplash off my mind. I really loved how the modern geometric pattern looked like tile (great for a kitchen backsplash!), but I also had a hunch the colors would play nicely with our brown cabinets and countertops. Not only would the white background of hex paper really lighten and brighten our kitchen, but the gold-hued lines were a great match to our honey oak cabinets. After ordering a sample and deciding to go for it, I watched and waited on this paper for months. I finally jumped for a few rolls during Black Friday sales (which is one of my best tips for scoring peel-and-stick wallpaper cheap!) and just recently got around to (finally!) getting it all installed. I’ve applied peel-and-stick wallpaper to a ton of different surfaces over the years, but I’ve never done a backsplash…which, as I learned, has some tricky nuisances. So today…I want to show the transformative effect this project had on our ugly brown kitchen, and also show you how to wallpaper a backsplash with peel-and-stick paper should you want to try it in your own home too!
Here is our kitchen before I added the peel-and-stick hex wallpaper. As you can see, it’s a pretty monochromatic space. Admittedly, adding such a strong dose of cool-and-crisp white to this very warm kitchen was a pretty big gamble.
But now that it’s all done, I am beyond thrilled I took the leap and went for it.
The bright white paper has indeed infused some lightness and brightness into the dark kitchen, and the gold lines play off the cabinets just enough to make it all work. While the oversized hexagons don’t quite give me that tile look I was originally going for…
…it’s gone a very, very long well in helping me like this kitchen more!
As you can now see, I decided to wallpaper more than just the backsplash, taking the paper all the way to the ceiling (I’ll explain why a bit later). When combined with a new kitchen curtain and the white chairs in the adjoining dining space (seen here and at the bottom of this post), the white actually works!
Wallpapering the backsplash definitely turned out to be one of the tricker wallpapering projects I’ve done, so let me walk you through exactly what I did and how I pulled it off!
Every backsplash/kitchen may vary, but in general here are the supplies you will need to keep on hand!
Wallpaper – This project could theoretically be done with any kind of wallpaper (traditional, peel-and-stick, etc). I personally chose the peel-and-stick route here for durability (most papers can be wiped clean) and for ease of removal (it just peels right off!). See the links at the bottom of this post for more tips, tricks, and tutorials for buying and using various wallpaper products.
Before purchasing your wallpaper, it’s a good idea to accurately measure the space you plan on wallpapering and devise a plan for how you will use the paper. When trying to determine how much paper you need, take into account the roll dimensions, pattern size and scale, and pattern repeat information (usually detailed on the wallpaper’s web description or packaging). Also think about which orientation you will hang the paper, as that may affect how much or little you need to cover certain size areas. If the paper can be easily returned, considering buying extra (because not being able to finish when you run out of paper can be very frustrating).
Measure & Plan
Wallpaper can be expensive, so I highly recommend spending a considerable amount of time planning out exactly how you will cut and apply the paper to your backsplash and other areas. To do that, start by removing any outlet covers, artwork or other items covering your backsplash…
I mentioned before that wallpapering the backsplash was my trickiest papering job ever, and the picture above shows exactly why. Backsplashes tend to have lots of things that need to be papered around. Outlets are certainly one, but your backsplash might have vents, hoods, shelves or other items that can’t be removed and need to be considered. We have these under cabinet lights (that we never turn on but obviously can’t remove because….#renters); and since these lights extend pretty much the entire length of all the cabinets, they prevented me from throwing up a simple sheet of paper and calling it a day.
To deal with anything you need to paper around, make a detailed plan of your entire backsplash. As you can see below, I not only detailed out the length and height of each area (to the left of the stove, to the right of the stove, to the right of the window), but I also marked the exact placement of each light and outlet. On another page (not shown), I dove into even further detail, notating where precisely each feature was so I could translate those measurements to the wallpaper during the cutting phase (more on that below).
With the dimensions fully calculated and notated, you can then determine how best to cut your wallpaper. Typically, wallpaper is hung from top to bottom and you work laterally across a space. Well, I wanted to use as little wallpaper as possible (because it’s expensive) and I wanted to reduce the amount of seams I had to match. As such, I chose to apply the paper horizontally (from side-to-side, rather than top-to-bottom). While this choice certainly added to the complexity of the installation, it really allowed me to maximize every inch of paper. If you notice in the notebook above (right-hand page), I cut each strip in half (possible because of the height of my backsplash and how I chose to install it). Instead of a 10′ length of paper with lots of excess, I had 20′ of 13″ tall strips that better fit the area being papered. This approach may not work for you based on your pattern and orientation preferences, but my point is this: think very carefully about how you can apply the pattern and how you can cut the paper to get the most space covered as possible!
Cut the Wallpaper
Figuring out the plan for the wallpaper may very well be your most tedious and time-consuming step. However, once you have all the measurements figured out, you just need to translate them to the wallpaper and get cutting.
Start by cutting the large rolls down the sizes determined in your planning. I found it easiest to do large cuts (both length-wise and width-wise) using a rotary cutter and large ruler.
When papering large expanses of wall, I usually deal with outlets and other features as I get to them (as I’m applying the paper). However, I found the backsplash such a tight space with so many extra features to work around, that it was practically impossible to get the paper to lay flat. After some trial-and-error, I determined it was much easier to cut each feature out before applying the paper to the wall. To do that, translate the size and placement of each “extra” feature to your wallpaper (precise size and location measurements are KEY!) to the wallpaper strip. In the photo below, you can see the faint lines of the light fixture (along the top) and the outlet (vertical line in the top/middle).
Once you have each feature measured and “drawn,” cut them out using a ruler and very sharp X-acto knife. This part can feel tedious and a bit scary (slicing big holes in the middle of your wallpaper can be a big risk!) so don’t hesitate to re-measure and double check as much as necessary!
Apply the Wallpaper
Once you have all the necessary features cut out of the wallpaper strip, it’s time to apply it! As I mentioned above, I chose to apply my paper horizontally to conserve paper and eliminate excessive match lines on such a small area. To do so, stick the lead edge of your paper strip to the wall, ensuring it is as vertically straight as possible. As you work across the wall, slowly peel away the paper backing and smooth the paper down.
Work carefully around features such as lights and outlets and use a sharp scissors and X-acto knife to trim away extra paper as necessary (below, right). Once you get the paper in place, you can use a smoother to really adhere the paper to the wall and work out any wrinkles.
Once the paper is applied, re-visit your outlets and other features to make sure sufficient paper is trimmed away and the paper is laying smooth and flat. Replace outlet covers once you’re satisfied with the placement and smoothness of the application.
Tips & Tricks
All of those pictures and descriptions make it sound like you just lay the paper down, replace your outlet covers and walk away. In truth, it required a lot of placing, peeling off and re-placing; tugging and pulling; and sweating. Working with peel-and-stick paper CAN be very exasperating, so here are some things to keep in mind:
Don’t hesitate to pull it off and re-lay it down. Whether it’s your initial 2″ or the full sheet, if it’s angled funny or has lots of wrinkles you can’t get out, simply peel the sheet off and re-stick it. I promise, it will stick again.
Don’t force it. Working from side-to-side can be really tricky from an alignment perspective. If your initial 2″ aren’t quite level, the paper will only continue to “veer off course” as you move across the wall. It’s better to peel it off and re-align it instead of trying to re-route the paper further down the wall.
Corners. I chose to cut long strips of paper that would stretch into and past the corners so that the pattern would continue nicely. However, getting paper to turn-the-corner straight can be very difficult. In hindsight, I would have sliced the paper at each corner and started a fresh application at each turn.
The paper is REALLY durable. Don’t hesitate to bend, wrinkle, or curl up the paper as you’re working with it. It’s veeeery durable and once you have it smoothed onto your wall, those bends and wrinkles won’t even be noticeable.
Take a step back. Despite my efforts for the smoothest application possible, I was still left with some pretty considerable wrinkles in the paper (those darn corners!). I know they are there, and up close I can see them. But during day-to-day life, I rarely notice them. That’s one of the best things about wallpaper. It’s so “big picture.” So do the best you can, step away, and just enjoy the improved view!
Deciding Where to Stop
One of the trickiest things about backsplashes (tiled, painted, papered, anything!) is deciding where to stop. I am not sure there are any “rules” about where and how your backsplash should stop, as I think it’s mostly personal preference. My original plan was to only tile the backsplash, and I used the width of our counters and the height of the cabinets as my guide (as seen below).
But even as I stepped back, put my supplies away, and called the job done, the “tiling” really bothered me. The white paper felt random in the context of the rest of the kitchen; and instead of my eye drifting to the pretty paper, it kept drifting to the ceiling where there was none. Below is a quick..
It’s a little surreal to be documenting Henry’s 7th birthday here on the blog! I have shared each and every one of his birthdays and the related projects around this time each year (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th), so it’s a little bit of a tradition for me! And while the parties have become less and less of a crafting marathon and Pinterest-worthy shebang, I still love to bring Henry’s latest obsession to life through small party projects (you can read more about my approach to easy party decor here). This year, Henry requested a Pokemon-themed party at the local gymnastics place, and I embraced the challenge! We used the most famous Pokemon, Pikachu, for a majority of the decor (which I’ll show you another day), but I had a distinct “vision” to make the cupcakes look like Pokeballs. Well, I was shocked when I couldn’t find a ready-made tutorial or printable on Pinterest for exactly what I was looking for, so I set out to come up with one myself. The result are these adorable and oh-so-easy DIY Pokeball Cupcakes that truly stole the show!
My vision was a pretty simple concept. Cupcakes with lots of red frosting on top could serve as the red top half of the iconic Pokeball, and white wrappers with the signature black dot could finish off the look…
And sure enough, once I paired these ready-made cupcakes with the wrappers, we had Pokeball cupcakes ready for the party!
Here is what you need to make your own Pokeball Cupcakes!
Cupcakes with LOTS of bright red frosting – I like to order cupcakes from a local grocery store. Not only do they taste and look so much better, but it’s reeeeaaallly hard to get true red frosting on your own!
E-cutter machine such as a Cricut Explore or Silhouette – Note: I have a Cricut Explore and therefor used Cricut Design Space for this project. The concept can likely be adapted using whichever e-cutter machine/software you have and prefer, or could be done by hand if you make templates via the same concept.
Designing the Pokeball Wrapper
The Pokeball cupcake wrapper is not an image you will find in the Design Space Library. I used a combination of the Stripe Cupcake Wrapper (#M13ED921 from the Confetti + Sprinkles cartridge) and some basic circle shapes to create the design. Here is how I did it…
Place the Stripe Cupcake Wrapper Design onto your canvas (below, top). Then, ungroup the two layers and send the white layer to the back (below, bottom).
Before moving on, duplicate the black wrapper layer and set it aside (we will need it later). Next, you are going to use one of the black layers to slice the top border off the white wrapper. To do that, select the black layer and click the Unlock icon on the bottom left handle (below, top). This will unlock the proportions of the image so you can better manipulate it to fit the white wrapper. With the black layer unlocked, change its size against the white layer until you get a very even white strip the whole length of the wrapper (below, bottom).
Once you are satisfied with the border shape and size, select both the white and black layer and click Slice in the bottom right of the screen (below, top). Once you delete out all the excess images leftover from the Slice function (not shown), you will be left with a rounded border that will fit perfectly on top of the cupcake wrapper (below, bottom).
With the border created, bring the other black layer back onto the canvas. Before moving on, swap the colors to better represent a Pokeball: make the wrapper white and the border black. If you layer the black border over the white wrapper, it should be a perfect match!
Next, you need to add the iconic black dot to the wrappers. Start by adding three circles to your canvas via the Shapes menu (along the left size of the screen). Make two of them white and one black (below).
Layer the three circles and adjust the spacing and sizing until it looks the the dot on the Pokeball (below, top). You may need to adjust the size of all three circles to match the proportions of the wrapper (not shown) if you started with really big or really small circles. Once you have the sizing of the three circles right, set the top (smallest) white circle aside. Then move the black circle to the black band, and the bottom white circle to the white wrapper (below, bottom). Use the Center commands (under the Align tool) to get the dot perfectly aligned on each band.
Before welding the circles to each band, first check the spacing one last time. To do that, group the black elements together (below, top). Place the black band along the top of the white wrapper, aligning the top edges. If necessary, adjust the white circle to perfectly frame the black dot (below, bottom).
Once you are satisfied with the placement of both the black dot and the white dot, use the Weld tool to make them into solid pieces. First, select the black circle and the black band, and click Weld from the bottom right corner menu. Then repeat with the white wrapper and the larger white dot. If you’ve never used the Weld tool, you can learn more in my tutorial here.
Once you have welded the dots to the wrapper pieces (making them one solid cut), you should be left with three pieces to cut: a white wrapper, a black band, and a single white dot. Cut out as many as you need from black and white cardstock!
Assembling the Pokeball Cupcake Wrappers
I was in a bit of can’t-stop-for-pictures party prep mode, so I hope you’ll forgive me that I don’t have detailed photos of how these wrappers come together!
Using craft glue or roller adhesive (I found the glue better for this step!), attach the black band to the white wrapper, then glue the white dot on top of the black band. Easy peasy! Once you hook one end of the wrapper into the other, you are left with simple little Pokeball cupcake wrappers!
TIP! I have found that no matter how much I measure, research and compare to store-bought cupcake wrappers, my cupcake wrappers are always too big for the cupcakes. Each and every time I make them and assemble them as directed, the wrappers sit waaayy too loose and the cupcakes slide right out the bottom. If this happens to you, don’t freak out…you don’t need to re-make your wrappers!
When you assemble the wrappers, don’t even bother hooking them together (as they are shown above). Once you have your cupcakes done and ready, simply place a line of roller adhesive along one short edge of the white wrapper (below, left), then carefully wrap the wrapper around the cupcake until it fits just right. Gently press down on the adhesive to adhere it to the other side of the cupcake wrapper…and voila! You have perfectly fitting wrappers!
I’ve mentioned a few times recently that cupcakes have become my go-to solution for party cake. Not only are there a million fun and creative ways to dress them up, but they don’t require cutting or forks! After adding some sort of wrappers (always do this at home because it can get messy!), I usually load the cupcakes back into the plastic trays they came in for transport. Once at the party, I lay them out on platters for a festive display!
The kids got the biggeset kick out of these Pokeball cupcakes, but I’m not sure the parents did! While they looked adorable, all that red frosting was quite the mess! Oh well – that’s what birthdays are all about, right?!?!
I have a few more Pokemon-themed projects I’ll share down the road. For now though, if you have a Pokemon-loving kid in your home, this is certainly a fun project to try!
I tend to always be a little late to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. It took me forever to finally read the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series; and I’m pretty sure everyone had (and already killed!) a variety of succulents before I bought my very first one. Sometimes I’m reluctant, sometimes I’m busy, and sometimes I’m just lazy. But eventually, I catch up with the trends. Such is the case with Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is a book that has been on my radar for a very, very long time. And considering my penchant for all things neat, tidy and organized, you may have thought or assumed I was among the first in line to read it. Admittedly, this book fell into the “reluctant” category for me. I’d seen countless blog reviews, news features, magazine articles and more touting Kondo’s message of “joy,” “neatly folded socks,” and “thanking your items for their service;” and honestly, it all kinda made me roll my eyes. But since the beginning of this year, I’ve been undertaking an education of sorts on all things slow, simple, and less. And as I’ve been making my way through a variety of books to help me on my quest to calm, I felt like it was time to finally see what all the hoopla surrounding this book was about. I read this book last week while I was on vacation with my boys, and my reaction was a surprising mixture of disappointment, intrigue, disbelief, revelation, skepticism, and inspiration. Today, I wanted to give a few quick thoughts about the book and share what happened when I actually put the famed KonMari method into practice in our home!
There is so much packed into this tiny 200 page book. It’s a quick and easy read; and it is definitely one that will give you pause, make you want to talk about it, and maybe even inspire you to implement the organizing methods outlined. I feel like I could go on and on about what is (and isn’t!) in the book, what I liked and what I didn’t, what I agree with and what I don’t…but I am trying to keep my posts to a read-able length these days #iswearimtrying! I will say this though – when I put the book down after reading it straight for two days, I was genuinely shocked and a bit confused at the cultural circus surrounding the book. I was astounded at how little was covered. I was amazed at how poorly the book was organized (of all things!). And honestly, I was taken aback by the extremely audacious claims that her method for decluttering and organizing would be a once-in-a-lifetime solution (meaning, you would never ever ever ever have to declutter and organize again!) #Seriously?!?!
Despite my pretty strong skepticism and cynicism, it’s that exact claim that made me want to try the KonMari method…just a little bit. Although I did roll my eyes at a good bit of the book, maybe her method really is as revolutionary as it claims? My extensive experience with decluttering and creating cute organization systems hasn’t truly stemmed the tide of stuff in our home, so maybe I do have a thing or two to learn? Could her too-simple, bare bones, extreme method really be a panacea from living with too much stuff? Could 4 little words really change our home forever? As much as I wanted to toss the book aside, Kondo’s book planted too many seeds of “but what if?” and “it doesn’t hurt to try it,” and “what do I have to lose?” and “could this really work?” So…I KonMari’d my closet (exactly where she said to start); and in short: I totally, really get it.
Does It Spark Joy?
I’m sure you’ve seen and read various decluttering tips and tricks from organizing experts: “If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it.” “If it’s broken or missing pieces, toss it.” “If it doesn’t fit you right,” “If you never use it,” “If the color is different than it looked in the store”…I could go on and on and on. Kondo skips every single one of those guidelines and suggest that you instead use four easy words to declutter your home: “Does it spark joy?” That’s it. You are supposed to take each and every item (in a specified order, in your hands) and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If the answer is real, true, fervent “YES,” you keep it. If the answer is any version of “no,” you toss it. There are no thoughts of functionality, usefulness, sentimentality, or practicality. If the items lights some sort of fire in you, you keep it. Otherwise, you don’t need or truly want it. It’s a simple if not ruthless method…and by doing this – truly, authentically, genuinely – you will theoretically be left with a home full of items you love and nothing else. And that alone would be life changing.
Yep – I was rolling my eyes too. Until I tried It.
KonMari-ing My Closet
Kondo is adamant about decluttering your home in a certain order, and prescribes starting in the closet with your clothes. And so I did. I emptied my closet in the exact way she said to. I then took each item, one at a time, into my hands and (reluctantly) asked if it sparked joy. And boy was I surprised at the answers I “heard.” As I went, item by item by item, the most incredible and surprising thing of all (and the whole reason I’m sharing this with you!) was how instinctual the answer to that question really was. If I genuinely and honestly thought about each item and asked if it sparked joy, I instinctively said “YES” to the things I wear, fit well, love the pattern on, and treasure. Likewise, I instinctively said “NO” to the things that were falling apart, I never wore, never truly loved, were holding onto out of obligation or didn’t fit quite right. I was taken aback at how clear (not easy, but clear) the answer was each time. I rarely struggled, I rarely had to think twice. In my gut, I knew exactly which items sparked joy and therefor would stay and which ones were taking up time, space, and choices. By asking if an item sparks joy and answering honestly, I was able to strip away a lot of the excuses for keeping items I truly don’t need or want <– and my hunch is it’s that exact reason why Kondo’s process is so different than any other.
In a very short matter of time, I had two large garbage bags full of clothes, shoes and bags to head off to the donation center. After decluttering sessions in the past, I always had a few things I kept out of guilt, obligation or sentimentality. This time, I don’t. I can honestly say everything that remains are items I truly, really love. Life changing.
The Beauty of Simple Storage
Kondo makes some other big claims in the book. Many I won’t go into now, but I did want to bring up one more. She suggests that once you really declutter a category (like clothes), you will be able to put things away, in the space you have, without any additional storage units or fancy storage systems. #gasp! Clearly she hasn’t met me! I thrive on maximizing space in a given area and basketing-labeling-stacking-and-corralling every inch until everything fits. Since that’s my instinct and go-to-method, before I started putting all the clothing keepers back into my closet, I went out to the garage and found every bin and basket I might need. Just this morning though, I put every single one of those bins and baskets back in into the garage because I didn’t need them after all. All of my items fit back into the space I had…with room to spare.
I now have one entire hanging rod and 6 shelves completely empty. Everything has a well-fitting and logical spot (using her folding method of course…the one I rolled my eyes at). Everything is easy to put away and is nice to look at. There are no fancy baskets, no complicated systems. Nothing fussy…and nothing, if I’m being honest, particularly blog worthy (sorry for the bad photos by the way, our closet is a dungeon!)! But it’s neat and tidy and oh-so-easy to maintain. In the week since I’ve done this, I find that I am no longer taking things off and leaving them piled on the floor or on the bench at the foot of our bed. I know exactly where each item goes. I know it will fit without pushing/pulling/tugging/straining/undoing some complicated system…and so I go and put it away. Life changing.
Life Changing? Quite Possibly.
This isn’t the post I envisioned writing after I first finished reading Marie Kondo’s book. In fact, I already had a rough draft in my head all about why I didn’t understand the frenzy, how ridiculous her methods are, and how I just didn’t get any bit of it. But I really am on a true and slow “Quest to Less” and the organizing junkie in me couldn’t help but try it. And so I did. I’ve only KonMari’d my clothes and my books; the next category on the list is paperwork. But…I can confidently (if not reluctantly!) say: I get it. Already…the decluttering feels different. Already…the changes feel real and true and maintainable. I don’t want to say it or believe it, but the book’s title might really be true. This method, this book…might really be life-changing. Time will tell I guess.
This post wasn’t the one I had “queued up” for today, but I really couldn’t help chatting about this here and now. At this point, I do plan to keep going through our things using Marie Kondo’s method; I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going and what I’m learning along the way. After all, clothes and books were easy for me. Once I get to home items and fabric, I might find that “joy” question much harder to answer! At the end of this year, I plan to share with you the variety of books I’ve read on our “Quest for Less,” as I’ve had a lot of eye- and heart-opening realizations already (via this book and others!). For now, though, I’d love to hear – have you read this book? Did you like it? Have you tried it? Were you skeptical? Did you roll your eyes too? I want to hear it all, so share away in the comments!
Oh – and if you’re looking for some other thoughts and inspirations I’ve learned and am learning on our “Quest for Less,” you can check out these other posts!