Viewing category ‘Decluttering’


5 ways to get rid of an old mattress

Categories: Decluttering, Kids Cook


This post is brought to you by the 3 sets of mattresses currently occupying space in my living room.

old mattresses

I’ve had to do a lot of research over the past couple of months about ways to get rid of an old mattress. I’m actually starting to see why there are mattresses dumped on the side of the road, it’s not always easy to dispose of them. There’s no city service in our area that will take them away and we don’t have a truck, so we’ve considered several options.

1. Ask if the company you bought the mattress from will haul the old one away - Though this wasn’t an option for us (long story), before you buy, ask if the seller will haul the old mattress set away. This will be worth your effort, I promise.

2. Post it for free on Craigslist - If the mattress is in decent shape, try posting it for free on Craigslist. You never know what people will want.

3. Take it to the city dump - If all else fails, borrow or rent a truck, hand over the money and take the mattress to the city dump.

4. Donate it to a charity - Though this option isn’t available as frequently as it once was, perhaps there’s a shelter or a refugee resettlement-type program in your area that will take usable mattresses. Donationtown may provide some ideas.

5. Look for a mattress recycling center - My research has shown that recycling mattresses is becoming more popular. Check Earth911 for an option near you.

I don’t know what we’ll end up doing, but it’s got to be soon, or we’re going to have to put Christmas lights on the things.

How about you? Do you have any suggestions for disposing of old mattresses? Pleas share in the comments below.

Storing clothes in a room without a closet

Categories: Decluttering


If you know anything about old house living, you know that rooms can be odd shapes and sizes and storage can be limited.

We live in an old house, and there are 3 full bedrooms upstairs. That’s all well and good, except that we need 4 bedrooms. Having the kids share a room isn’t a great option because of age differences, so we use a dormer space as the 4th bedroom.

This area started out as the nursery. It was a good place to keep the crib and some baby things until we reconfigured some space to make a bedroom for our first child. Then the second child came along and he lived in the nursery for several years until we were able to finish a bedroom for him.

But, by the time the third baby arrived, we’d run out of options for making another bedroom. So, 10 years later he’s still in the nursery. He’s only recently had an opinion about his room being smaller than the others and about the babyish decor in there. So, we fixed it up a bit and made it more age appropriate:

But, part of the update was removing the nursery armoire, leaving nowhere to hang clothes. Additionally, the only real space to do so is behind the door on the right:

As you can see, at the moment we just have a random shelf there, but I’m looking for ideas for some sort of free-standing closet or some way to hang clothes and a couple of shelves would be handy.

What can we put here? Share your ideas! (Please?)

Organizing the pantry

Categories: Decluttering, Organization

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The popularity of visual sites such as Pinterest has sparked redecorating and reorganizing frenzies heard ’round the world. Stores are selling out of basket sets, shelving and chalkboard paint as users race to transform their homes into the beautiful pictures online.

Me? I WANT to be that person with the effortlessly organized and matching house, but I’m…not. I do like to look at the organization boards and I have always appreciated a nice looking, organized and well-stocked pantry. I love the idea of being able to go right to the pantry and always find what I need to put a meal on the table or whip up an appetizer for friends who stop in for a visit.

My pantry is a bit overdue for cleaning out and restocking properly:

Pantry before

Yes, I know.

I’d like to get it done before school begins and I have even less time than I do now, but I’m having trouble getting motivated since I know it’ll never look like all those pictures (mainly because I actually keep food in mine, and many of those super-organized ones don’t seem to have food in them), so I thought if I showed you a picture of it, I’d get motivated to clean it out and see what I have in there.

Even though it would be great, my goal isn’t really to rework the whole space but to do simple things such as toss expired items, find a permanent place for everything, get rid of items we don’t actually use and arrange things where they are easily accessible. Then I can begin to make a pantry checklist and analyze what I should be keeping in there.

I’m hoping to get started tomorrow and show some results soon!

Any pantry organizing tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

Stairs: a clutter danger zone

Categories: Decluttering

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When I was growing up, we lived in a one-story house, but I always wished we had an upstairs. However, my mother never wished it, and I couldn’t understand why.

Now I live in a 2-story house, and I understand some of how she felt about it, but it’s not really related to having to walk up, and down; it’s more about how our stairwell has become a nifty place to store some of the detrius that doesn’t seem to have a home.

As you can see, there’s all kinds of “important” items there. I can remove them and return them to their rightful owners, but there’s just more flotsam and jetsam waiting to take their place.

We’ve tried using a stair step basket that is allegedly a place to keep things to grab the next time you go upstairs, but somehow we just ended up filling it up, and the items took up permanent residence there. Actually, that happens with many of the things we attempt to organize in containers. The containers end up becoming a pretty place for the junk to live rather than actually solving the problem.

Wait, maybe the issue is us and not the containers? Nah.

I think it will take a change in attitude from the entire family about leaving things there to keep it clear, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Sure, things left on the stairs can be a safety hazard, but more importantly, they’re driving me insane just by being there, so I’m on a mission to keep this spot in the house clean.

Do you have stairs that tend to accumulate junk? If so, what do you do about it? Please share any and all hints!

What goes on your kitchen counter?

Categories: Decluttering, Kids Cook


Lovely accent to your kitchen, or flat filing cabinet?

It’s been a hot topic around here the past couple of days as we’ve attempted to give the kitchen a thorough cleaning. It’s come to light that we (the adults in the house) are of differing philosophies regarding the counter space.

One of us thinks that the more stuff the better on the kitchen counter. That way, you can see and get to whatever you need.

The other one of us has the right idea.

(Oops, did I give away who’s who, here?)

Left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have much of anything on the counter because I think it looks better. However, I know I’d be complaining every time I had to get something out to use it. But. other people in the house *ahem*husband*ahem* see things a little differently. For him, the more stuff the better on the counter. That way, you can see what you have and use it!

As you may be able to tell, we don’t always see eye to eye about what should stay on the kitchen counter.

Right now, The permanent residents of the kitchen are: the microwave, the coffee maker, the bread box, a small television, toaster, electric can opener, an iPod dock and an electric pencil sharpener (The kids do homework at the kitchen table, and they are really hard on pencils.).

However, I’m not fond of the way it looks, especially since the kitchen is the main way people come in and out of the house, and the kitchen is the first thing they see. I think it looks too cluttered, but these are things we actually use.

Our kitchen was done many, many years ago, and I wish I’d had the foresight to ask them to put in an “appliance garage” to get some of the little ones out of plain view, but I didn’t. One thing I do need to do is replace the plug covers with something closer to the paint color, that would help the overall look, I think.

How about you? How do you decide what gets kept out on the kitchen counter and what lives behind closed doors?

Displaying, recycling and saving holiday cards

Categories: Decluttering


I love to get holiday cards in the mail. I can’t wait to see what the mail brings this time of year and I love to look at them, and I even look forward to update letters.

I’ve tried displaying them various ways over the years: decorating a doorway, clothes-pinned to a decorative cord on the stair bannister or on the mantle.

However, I’ve discovered that I like them best in a little holder I got at some Christmas party. I keep it on the kitchen table because it’s where I tend to spend a lot of time, and I like being able to get them out and look at them.

But, my biggest problem is what to do with the cards when the holidays are over.

I’d love to be the crafty person to recycle them and make something cute, but I’m not.

But, if you are that person, here’s a few ideas to recycle old Christmas cards:

1. Cut the backs off, and use the fronts to make a Christmas collage (fun activity for kids), or decoupage a tray, a small box or a frame.

2. Use the backs for scrap paper or to make lists, etc.

3. Make gift tags for next year with a hole punch and some ribbon.

Or, you could cut the backs off and donate the fronts to a preschool, kindergarten or library for crafts.

Additionally, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children has a Recycled Card Program. The children at St. Jude Ranch make new cards from them to sell.

But, my dilemma is what to do with the pretty photo cards people send. I have the worst time throwing away pictures, and for years I’ve stored photo cards in a cigar box (remember those?) and it’s getting full. I know it’s clutter, and I need to go through it and pick out the special ones, but I can’t seem to do it.

Any suggestions how to declutter or save photo holiday cards?

The Island of Misfit Toiletries

Categories: Decluttering


I like to think that the space under our bathroom sink contains an efficient combination of cleaning tools and extra supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice. While it does contain those things, there’s a whole other category of items squirreled away under there that I call “The Island of Misfit Toiletries”.

In the Island of Misfit Toiletries, you’ll find things like that shampoo that seemed like exactly what I needed at the time, the one that would make me salon beautiful (after I ponied up enough cash), but ended up hating it.

It was expensive, so it’s not like I can throw it out, right? So, under the sink it goes!

There’s also the huge bottle of lotion, a brand I don’t normally use, but it was on SALE! I got it for some reason, though I didn’t really need it. I keep it “as a back-up” while I continue to buy my regular brand, secure in knowing I have a “back up” in the event of a lotion shortage or if I get stranded at home all winter.

(Note: I was actually stranded at home for several days during an enormous flood last year, and I can report my “back-up lotion” was of no use when we should have had “back-up food and water”, but I digress.)

It was on sale, so it’s not like I can throw it out, right? So, under the sink it goes!

I’m unclear what my resistance is in getting rid of these things that I’m clearly not going to use. I tried giving them to my daughter thinking that perhaps her taste was different than mine and she’d use them. This was a great idea until I discovered them in the “Island of Misfit Toiletries Annex” in her bathroom.

Back to the drawing board, or more specifically, back under my sink.

I even tried using them on my sons thinking, “How picky can a guy be?” But, it turns out that there’s only so much smelling like a flower that a 9 year old can take, and apparently floral isn’t a “thing” for high school guys, either. Who knew?

I’m sure I’m violating basic organization principles by keeping things I don’t and probably won’t use, but this is an area that I keep telling myself I’ll, “Deal with it later”. After all, these are perfectly good items, why waste them?

Your turn: Tell us what do you do with that expensive lipstick that turned out not to be quite the right color or that liquid eyeliner you thought you’d try and were inept at using (wait, that might just be me…).

Do you have an Island of Misfit Toiletries, or do you get rid of things right away, knowing you won’t use them?

Spice cabinet attack

Categories: Cooking, Decluttering


The past couple of posts have been around and about my kitchen. I talked about making school lunches, and shared my coffee mug problem.

I didn’t really intend to keep talking about the kitchen until I was trying to cook dinner, and opened the spice cabinet to this:

While I’m fortunate to have a space dedicated to these types of things, this is one area that my family cannot seem to understand is arranged with a purpose. If you take something out of there, why not put it back where you got it?

Contrary to popular belief, the items in there aren’t randomly placed.

The bottom shelf is supposed to be cooking items such as spices (on the turntable thingy), cooking sprays, cooking wine, envelope mixes, etc.

The middle shelf is supposed to be baking items, syrups, cocoa, cookie decorating, food coloring and such, and the top shelf is larger items I keep on hand for emergency bake sale situations and the occasional pumpkin pie (a family favorite).

I was tired of looking at it and trying to work around it, so I got up there and started putting it in order. I began by taking everything off the top shelf, and found (wait for it…) more coffee mugs.

I threw out expired things, and unidentified objects in plastic bags. I got rid of stuff that was possibly older than my oldest kid, and put like things together.

This was monumental for me since usually, when I’m confronted with the need to clean out or rearrange an area, my perfectionism paralysis takes over and I don’t do anything because I feel like it’s not worth it if I don’t have time to do it exactly right and in detail.

This time, I fought the urge to put it on the calendar and I just took a few minutes and did it. It turned out pretty well (or, better, at least):

I need to get better at “just doing it” (as opposed to scheduling and planning a “good” time) when a mess needs to be tackled, but I’m working on it.

Are you like me, do you have trouble starting projects unless all conditions are “perfect”? What area in your house would you get under control if you had a few minutes?

Too many coffee mugs

Categories: Decluttering


I’ve been writing here a few weeks now, and I feel like we know each other, so there’s something I need to tell you.

My name is Busy Mom, and I have a bit of a coffee mug problem.

In the event of the zombie apocalypse, I could serve each of them coffee in a mug:

Sadly, that’s not my entire collection, and I’ve even pared down the second string mugs recently. The whole thing doesn’t even begin to cover the mugs that are part of my china set.

I may write a column called “Ordering Disorder”, but that doesn’t mean I’ve ordered all my disorder, as evidenced above.

I drink coffee, but probably not more than the average person. But, even if I drank an extraordinary amount, I could only use one mug at a time, so this really makes no sense. I’m not even sure how it all started.

When we got married, we got the requisite “everyday” dishes as well as china, and the coffee mugs were just part of the sets, nothing special.

I work in health care, and back in the days when pharmaceutical sales reps gave out goodies, it was considered a “score” if you got a coffee mug from one (as opposed to the requisite ballpoint pen, or something less awesome).

So, come to think of it, that’s where my problem might have started.

As the years have gone by, we’ve also acquired them as vacation souvenirs, gifts from the kids, favorite restaurant and job mementos and there’s also a sizable population of cool mugs of unknown origin.

I realize this is how people who wake up one day and discover they have 47 cats get started, but even though the cabinet is crowded, we like all of them. Each is a work of art, a nice memory or a gift and I have no idea how to weed them out.

I’ve boxed up some and set them free in the teacher’s lounge at my husband’s school, but other than that, they all just live in harmony in the cabinet. The very crowded cabinet.

I have no idea if I need an intervention, psychological counseling or a organizing tips, but the first step is to admit the problem.

Do you share my coffee mug problem? Any tips?

Must-have items for the car trunk

Categories: Decluttering


Our house may not always be in order, but one thing I pride myself on is the state of my car. I spend a lot of time in there, and I work very hard to keep the clutter down despite having 3 kids.

One way I keep things in order in the car is to require the kids to get their things out of the car when they arrive home. It’s a struggle sometimes, but I’m trying to teach them the value of putting things away promptly so you know where they are. Doing so also reduces the chances of backpacks being driven away on an errand or to a sibling’s sports practice when it’s time to do homework.

Another thing that helps me keep order in the car is to go through it quickly while I’m at the gas pump. I throw away any trash that may have accumulates and gather any stray items into a grocery bag, or at least a pile to be returned to their proper place.

However, my need for order in the car sometimes conflicts with my need to be prepared for whatever comes my way.

When the kids were small, I carried everything in the world in the car: you name it, I was prepared for it. We could swim, go skiing, make crafts and eat for a week, all from the trunk.

Over the years, I’ve learned to pare down, and now I like to think of my car trunk as prepared, yet efficient. I still spend a great deal of time in there, and sometimes the kids’ sports events take us far from home, so I still like to be prepared, especially when I’m going to be outside.

Some of my must-have items I keep in the trunk:

Folding chairs - they’re not just for sports, I’ve used these in several situations and I’m always glad when I have them. They usually fit way back in the trunk, and aren’t really in the way often.

Nylon-backed picnic blanket - this type of blanket has been handy for just hanging out, it’s been a spontaneous table cloth and it can even keep you warm when it gets cold unexpectedly.

Duffel bag - I keep automotive supplies in here such as jumper cables, rags, extra oil, funnel, tools, a flashlight, gloves, rain poncho, fix-a-flat etc. in it. It’s nice to have it all together, and it’s easily relocated if needed.

I also keep paper instructions in there about how to jump a car because I can never remember, but I don’t like to let people see them because I’m a grown-up and I’m supposed to know these things.

Tote bag: this has the reusable grocery bags, a couple of blankets, a towel, an extra jacket, a travel pillow, a multi-plug, a couple of small umbrellas and a few other items.

This was born of the fact that I’m often waiting for kids at various places and I hate it when I’m unprepared, especially during transitional weather. I also hate loose items in the car.

One thing I’m planning to add is a pair of shoes or boots. I know that’s standard for some of you in the north, but I never thought a lot about it until I was snowed in at work last winter here in the sunny south and I was faced with walking home in my party shoes in the snow.

I’m curious, what kinds of things do yo keep in your car trunk (besides “the bodies”, smartypants)? Do you have things you never leave home without, or am I the only one over-thinking this?