The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Several people close to us started talking about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And like a virus, it was contagious. I bought the audio version and read it in a week, and since then, well, I’ve purged half the house. Mr. Right has purged the other half.

Wrenn is lucky we kept her and all those toys of hers (although a few have since disappeared).

Here’s my thoughts on the book:


1. Cleaning out my closet – REALLY CLEANING IT OUT – as in, getting rid of more than half my things, has been so freeing. I am pretty scatterbrained and naturally messy, and I spend half my day trying to find something I’ve misplaced. So, when I decided to look through my closet and adopt the KonMari method of keeping only things that “spark joy,” well, there went all those clothes I’ve been keeping because I might someday need them, or used to love but have since seen very little wear, and all that was left were the items I love the most. I can now go in my closet and every single item makes me feel good when I put it on – which makes it so much easier to get dressed in the morning. I think I had five white cami’s – but I only like to wear one of them. So, that’s the one I kept. Half my socks had holes, and I rarely wear socks anyway. I found a swimsuit I had forgotten about that I LOVE (because it was hidden between all the clothes I never wear). Now, everything in my closet has a place. The lack of clutter has done wonders for my eyes and my mind. I even added a few framed photos to make my closet another “happy place.”

And, several weeks later, it’s still clean. That, my friends, is a miracle.


2. The book gave me permission to get rid of things I’ve kept all these years, just because. Because someone gave it to me as a gift. Because it was expensive. Because I liked it before, so now it feels weird to get rid of it. Because I “should” have it. Because what if I needed it again at some far away time in the future? Maybe. Y’all – I just LET MY THINGS GO.

3. The book is a little weird on the spiritual side. The author thinks her possessions have souls, and if you get rid of a shirt, it will find its way back to you as a sock. Lord help me if my old air cast finds it way back to me. I don’t endorse the spiritual side of the book, but I do think the concept of decluttering fits well into a Christian worldview. My possessions don’t own me. They don’t control me. I won’t be ruled by them. And so, by simplifying my stuff, I free up time to enjoy more important things – like living. Having less clutter is calming for my brain and for my spirit.

4. I really love giving things away. I hate hosting garage sales. HATE THEM. Instead, I have been having a “reverse garage sale” – leaving baskets of items on my front porch and encouraging friends and neighbors to pick through them and take whatever they need, and then donating the rest. It is SO FUN. I love the thought of a dear friend getting to enjoy a small blessing from us (or our youth group at church enjoying a box full of Christian books – for free). Giving things away is so much more fun than letting things collect dust in closets.

5. Simplifying is going to take awhile. Mr. Right and I have been purging with the KonMari method for about a month, and so far, we’ve hit: my side of the closet/drawers, the kitchen, my books, our bathroom drawers/cabinets, the garage (y’all – several neighbors wondered where I was because my car FIT IN THE GARAGE for the first time in years), Will’s tools, the spare bedroom’s closet (mostly gifts/wrapping/storage), and our serving ware (placemats, etc.). I’ve decided we’re naturally going to have more cooking/entertaining items than most, since that’s something we LOVE and do so regularly. And that’s okay. It’s all about finding what fits with your family’s priorities.

Simplifying our life has been something that has been a huge focus for us this year. We had already simplified our schedule, focusing on creating margin to make ourselves available to love on people that God brings our way. I have tried to simplify my expectations for myself, as a wife and mom, and focus on doing things that bring health to all of us. And now, it’s another step in the process to simplify the junk that we’ve had to manage – junk that requires energy and time and money – and just letting it go. For me… it makes total sense.

So… who’s with me? Let me know what area you are working on simplifying. I’d love to know I’m not the only one!

Six ways a budget can change your life

I hate math. Like, out of 7.5 years of undergrad + grad school, I took exactly one math class. So if I can learn to love budgeting, well, anybody can.

Mr. Right and I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University back when we were engaged, and it was one of the greatest investments we have made in our marriage. That first year of marriage, we owned two houses (so two mortgages), paid for Mr. Right’s grad school, had to replace an air conditioning unit after our second house was broken into, and paid off all of our debt except our house. It was actually fun, and taught us that we could live a very full life without spending a ton of money. It also taught me how to watch our budget like a hawk.


(Source: Dave Ramsey)

Four years later, I have learned several lessons when it comes to budgeting:

1. It’s not going to work for the first three months. And that’s okay. But if you continue tweaking it, then I promise that eventually it will become almost a no-brainer.

2. Having a budget reduces stress. Knowing exactly where your money is going, and whether you’re ahead or behind on your budget, reduces that stress of the unknown.

3. Having a budget makes you feel like you have more money. It’s so easy to spend $8 on lunch here, $4 on coffee there, and next thing you know, you’ve dropped $100 and you don’t know where it went! That’s $100 you could have used on clothes, or date nights, or something fun… or for paying bills.

4. Having a budget doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. We make room in our budget for clothes, and entertainment, and eating out… for gifts and our anniversary get-aways. We also give ourselves “fun money” each month to do whatever we want with it.

5. Having a budget will help your marriage. Forcing yourself to talk about your budget and your long-term family goals helps reduce fights over money, and helps you to feel like you’re on the same team, with the same goals.

6. Having a budget reduces your feelings of guilt. When we first got married, I always felt guilty spending money on myself. Money was so tight, and every dollar I spent on things like makeup felt like I was taking money from something important. But once we created a budget and built all of our needs into it, I no longer felt guilty about spending money on myself, because it was MY money.

I have found that when something is simply/clean/cute, I’m much more likely to use it. And so, I designed a budget spreadsheet that can help you meet your goals, know exactly how much money you need to have in your account at any given time to cover all of your expenses, and give you a great starting point. It’s available for instant download in my shop here.

Friends… how do you feel about budgets? Any tips you want to share with my readers? Leave them in the comments below!


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Organized Disorganized

I’m the most organized disorganized person you’ll ever meet. Organized because I calendarize everything, schedule my life weeks and months in advance, and usually have about 30 projects at home and work dancing around my mind on any given day.
I’m disorganized because I’m a bit A.D.D. and can’t seem to finish anything. My desk at work and my closet at home are a mess. And please, oh please, don’t ever take a peek in my bathroom cabinets. You might not survive.
And so I battle daily against my disorganized tendencies, misplacing everything but my head and keeping my racing mind at bay. This week my solution is this:
It’s a miniature notebook that tucks away inside my purse. My goal is to use it to keep my daily bible verse, my personal to-do list and my shopping list reminders in one spot. Because when it hit me this morning that “We need to buy toilet paper” while checking work emails, I needed to capture that thought on paper so it wouldn’t go on bouncing around in my head the rest of the day.
Will it work? I’ll let you know in about two weeks… this adorable little notebook may be caked in muffin crumbs and spattered in coffee drops by then. Or it may be my new favorite toy. I’ve already tried using “notes” on my iPhone, carrying a paper calendar with space for a grocery list, and emailing myself reminders. But this is way cuter.
Speaking of cute…

One night this week I organized my sewing room. Probably my favorite spot in the house, because it’s where I get to create things, let my creative juices flow and snack on Valentine’s M&M’s while I sew until my heart’s content and catch up on my favorite shows on Hulu.

But lately, with several sewing deadlines back-to-back, my creativity has left little time for picking up. Add to it the fact that Mr. Right graciously gave me a set of shelves he wasn’t using in his study anymore, and we kind of just threw them against the wall and never bothered to put anything on them, while the piles on the floor kept growing and growing and growing.

I finally got inspired to take an hour and reclaim control over my happy place. I am so glad I did. I’ll have to do a photo tour of the rest of the room soon – we recently took the guest bed out of this room and put it in Mr. Right’s study so that I’d have more room to work on the floor (if you haven’t noticed, quilts are big and take up a lot of space while you’re laying them out). And, I proudly displayed some of my yo-yo patches since it’ll be another two years before I make enough yo-yo’s to finish that monster of a quilt. My scraps could use some attention, but at least they’re tucked away in a dresser until I figure out how I want to sort them. I’ve learned in quilting you can’t throw any fabric away, no matter how small the scrap. Someday it may come in handy.

What about you? Got any organization tips that will change my life?