Happy New Year…..

Doesn’t September feel like a start to a new year??  It always does to me! The cool breeze is in the year, the kiddos are back in school.  We are living in an environment of growth, physically and mentally as our son starts his last year in Middle School.  I love that feeling of growth and want to continue to experience it myself.   Otherwise, my life feels stagnant.   I set goals every year to help myself to continue to grow. 

This time of year I always reflect on my goals for the current year and what I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year.   I am not a New Years Resolution sort of gal,  my new year starts in September.    Just seems logical as we get back into the routine of school.    And worst yet, when I reflect on my goals in September it gets me in gear to finish them by the end of the year.



2015’s Focus – SIMPLIFY

I try to keep my goals to a minimum, I only have 3 goals in 2015.   My goals for 2015 are as follows:

1.  Simplify My Life – to me this meant decreasing my commitments that kept me out of the house and focus on the  activities that matter to me.   I was just feeling stretch too thin and wasn’t enjoying it.   After many years,  I took a break from my book club.   Spending more time at home, having Sunday dinner with our children each week.  Doing things that really makes me happy.   The simple everyday things have more impact then we realize on our own happiness.    We also simplified our life by decreasing the amount of stuff we own.  This is an on-going project, but we have made a lot of progress.   We have no desire to keep up with the Jones’.  We are becoming more selective as to what is allowed to come into our home.  Our desire is to be DEBT FREE!!!

2. Park in the Garage –  this winter we will park at least one of our four cars in the garage!   We took time off in May and really made a big dent in cleaning the garage.  This weekend I had four boxes left to go through, which are done.   The garage is almost done, I just need to organize a bit and get rid of all the empty bins!!  

3.  Organize my photos –  this one I haven’t made much progress on at all.   By cleaning out the garage and around the house, I believe all photos all photos are all in one place.   I want to get at least one photo book made by the end of the year, so this will be my project I will be spending the rest of fall with. 




2016’s Focus – HEALTH

While most of my goals in 2015 focused on simplifying our life.  I hope in 2016 to focus on my health.   My goals for 2016 are as follows:

1.  Healthier  & Happier – I bought the book  52 Small Changes One Year to a Happier,Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal 2 years ago.   Each year I start the book and only make it through the few changes and then lose momentum.  This year I will make it through all 52 weeks.    By blogging about my experience each week, I hope I will get some of you to follow along with me and keep me accountable.     Plus this will get me blogging more than just my menu each week. 

2.  Writing Project – Complete a writing project I would like to do. This is a crazy idea I got one morning in the shower, which is by the way, the location my best ideas come from!!   I am going to give it a try….I blog, that is writing, right??

3.  Continue to Simplify……


What are your New Year Goals this September???   Join me in getting Healthier and Happier in 2016.  Look for a blog post each Wednesday discussing the new change we can make that week to aide us in being healthier and happier!


Happy  New Year!!


Simple Living in 2014: Dresser

Hello Friends,

How are you doing with your goals for 2014??  I am still plugging away on my January goal of Spring cleaning our bedroom.   As the weeks go by I find myself wanting to spend more time in my bedroom.   It is nearly done and brings me much joy!

Believe it or not, we are still battling the illness that started on Christmas for hubby and I.  Through it all I continue to do a little de-cluttering as my energy level permits.  Today, I take my last dose of prednisone, so I anticipate  a decrease in my productivity.   I am moving pretty slowly due to strained muscles in my ribs due to excess coughing.  But I have been able to keep up with my goals by doing a little bit at a time, slow and steady wins the race.

DRESSER:  Another area that tends to get out of hand quickly, my dresser.  While I love baskets to contain items, they tend to become a dumping ground for me.   I rather throw something in the basket instead of putting it away where it belongs.


AFTER:  This really was an exercise in putting things away where they belong.  Most items in the basket didn’t belong there, I simply neglected to put them away.  



My hubby is a very wonderful and supportive man, but getting rid of things is not easy for him.   I have learned that while I like simple, clean spaces, he likes to keep things that he might need.   It is a careful dance we do, but I never get rid of anything of his without his permission.   This weekend he did help me with the bedroom a bit.   He went through his dresser and closet and decluttered his clothes!   He did a great job and has a lot of space in his dresser now!

Hubby’s donate pile!

Other Tasks crossed off the “to do list” this week:  Scrubbed the walls and floor, washed the curtains and cleaned out the headboard.

As you can see we are nearly done with our bedroom.  We only have the bookcase left to de-clutter and then we are moving on to the Living Room for February!   Looking forward to a good Spring Cleaning of the living room before our our new furniture is delivered.

Hope you are finding ways to Simplify Life in 2014!!  



Simple Living in 2014: Our Bedroom – Corner

Hello Friends,

Illness still plagues our home, but I try to work a little bit here and there on the great bedroom purge.  I want to stay on track with my goal to complete this room by the end of January.   One thing that works well for me is to watch a favorite TV show while  purging our bedroom.   I got quite a bit cleaned up during the first show of the new season of Downton Abbey!

The great bedroom purge continues.   We have this corner between our dressers which quite simply is a dumping ground.  This before picture isn’t as drastic as it was before Christmas.   Imagine this area piled high with boxes and bags of gifts for 11 people.   What a mess!!!

corner before

To get started I removed everything from the corner and sorted it.  I sort into categories of keep, toss, donate and find home.    In cleaning I finding two main reasons for my clutter:

1.  Delayed Decisions –  I might want to keep this item, but I am not sure so I will just hang on to it.  But in the meantime I really don’t have a specific home for it as I might not keep it.   Make the decision on each item and move on!

2.  Didn’t Replace Where Belongs –  I try to keep like things together, but sometime I am just lazy!  I know fireworks go in the basement in the storage area, but I found some in this corner, because I didn’t take the time to put things away.  I am working hard to make the effort to put things where they belong, even if that means going to the basement when I don’t feel like it.

corner after

Finished Corner – still a few things on the white shelf that I am debating their true home.  But it is a good start!



corner findsCleaning Saves you money:   So in cleaning out the corner I found a few things that were helpful.  About a year ago, I lost my extra set of keys for my van.   I had to purchase a new set for about $50.00.  While cleaning out the corner, I found a purse I wasn’t using and the missing keys were in it!   Being disorganized costs me money!!

Also found – two free passes to the movie theater!  So cleaning my corner out netting me about $65.00.   It pays to get organized!!  I think a date to the movies is in order soon.

corner donationAnother Donation Pile finds it’s way to Good Will to bless someone else.

Don’t worry, I am not going to post every area of my house as I declutter it.   I will post a weekly update of my accomplishments.  I will be crossing items off my list as I complete them!   I hope you will join me in simplifying your life in 2014!


Wishing you a wonderful start to 2014 and freedom from clutter!


Simple Living in 2014: Our Bedroom

We live in an older home, built in 1960.  Therefore the rooms and closets are smaller.  Which doesn’t bother me as I really don’t think we need so much stuff.   So this project should assist us to fit comfortably into our home once again.

closet before

Closet Before:   Hubby and I share a very small closet.  Due to the size of the closet, I have to keep my off season clothes in bins in the garage.  I don’t see that changing even with this project.  As you might be able to guess it is not very easy to find matching shoes I want to wear each day.  It is a bit of a dig!

I completed the closet de-clutter in three separate mini tasks.   The shoes were all removed and only the ones I truly needed and love remained.   No more keeping shoes that are not comfortable or hurt my feet.  While it might not sound significant but I reduced my shoes from 26 pairs to 16.

Secondly, clothes – since I had recently switched my clothes around for a new season, I only have a couple of things to donate.   I donated an entire garbage bag of clothes when switching clothes around this fall.

Lastly, closet shelves – reorganized and found permanent home for items.  It is so much easier to maintain a de-cluttered area if you have a specific home for items.

closet after
Closet After:   Do you see that empty space on the shelves???  Empty space is good!!  Only shoes I love and that feel good to wear!!!

Donation Pile:   These items have already found their way to Goodwill by the time I am typing this.   I hope to make a bi-weekly trip to Goodwill to bless others with my excess.


Wishing you a wonderful week and much success with your goals for 2014!!

Baby Steps…..


Simple Living in 2014: Where to Start??

Qoute 1While I stand by my idea of simplifying our lives in 2014, I am trying to figure out where to start??  We have a lot of possessions and if I want to hold and evaluate each one it is going to take forever and it is simply overwhelming.

So I decided that I will dedicate 10 months to the process.  I listed each room of our home and the order in which I want to address them.  I did skip the rooms that are inhabited by my father-in-law, brother-in-law and our niece.  We decided to simplify, they didn’t.   Having all the other areas of the house addressed will make a big difference.

I decided to start with our bedroom as I want our bedroom to be my oasis.  A place where I can go to rejuvenate (take nap, read) and feel the benefits of simple living.

Simplify in 2014 – Game Plan

January –   Our Bedroom
February – Living Room
March –  Our Son’s Bedroom
April –   Dining Room
May –  Kitchen
June –  Bathroom
July –  Garage
August –  Garage
September – Storage Under Steps/Storage Area
October –  Laundry Room
11 & 12 – Enjoy the holiday season!!!

To avoid overwhelm, I need to list things out and see on paper that my idea is doable.  So looking at these 10 months, I feel like this year, I can accomplish this!  I will simplify and de-clutter our home and lives!

In January, I will be working on our bedroom.   So next I focus on that room and decided on paper how I can make this seem manageable.   My goal is to clean/de clutter one area a day in our room.   I made a list breaking down our bedroom into simply daily tasks that would take about 15 to 30 minutes.   Looking at it on paper makes it feel possible, just the motivation I need.



I broke down de-cluttering the bedroom into 21 tasks: – 31 days in January, so I feel confident that I can complete the bedroom in the allotted time.


1.  Closet – shoes
2.  Closet – clothes
3.  Closet – Shelves  (I allowed myself 3 days to complete our very small closet – very manageable)
4.  Paul’s Dresser
5.  Corner
6.  Dresser – Top
7.  Dresser drawers
8.  Wash Curtains
9.  NIght Stand
10.  Sheets Drawer
11.  Pants – Drawer
12.  Head Board
13.  Bookcase – Shelf #1 and Top
14.  Bookcase – Shelf #2
15.  Bookcase -Shelf -#3
16.  Bookcase – Shelf #4
17.  Bookcase – Shelf #5
18.  Bed Drawer 1 – Paul’s
19.  Bed Drawer 2 – Paul’s
20.  Scrub Floor
21.  Wash Walls

KeyThe key to success is to break things down into manageable tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.  That feeling of overwhelm will shut down your efforts very quickly if you let it get the best of you.   You can do this!!!!  15 minutes a day = EASY!!

I encourage you to sit down and come up with a realistic plan of what and how you will accomplish your goals in 2014!!  Completing small manageable steps will build your confidence and keep you motivated.

Let’s achieve those goals in 2014!!



New Years….New Beginnings..

The presents are unwrapped and life is slowing and returning to normal, but my house a mess. Time to find a home for our new toys and our old toys to find a new home where they will be loved.  The new year always has me wanting to de-clutter and organizing our home.  I just love getting things in order for the New Year!!

I have the habit of wanting everything to be perfect immediately, which usually has me burnt out and unable to complete the organization of the whole house, which is a huge project. A proverbial elephant, if you will.

eating-an-elephant  Best way to eat an elephant??? One small bite at a time….. We all know this saying, but fail to apply it to our lives. In our house, we apply this idea to paying down debt as well as cleaning our house.  If you view the elephant as the big goal your life depends on, you will be very disappointed.  Instead if you focus on smaller goals, you are able to maintain focus and celebrate each sucess, which helps you stay motivated!

Years ago I found the  “Cleaning Grand Plan”  at the Organized Home webpage.  The Cleaning Grand Plan was written by Katie Lackey. This is a plan to clean and organize your entire home in 14 weeks.  By breaking the areas of the house down this plan allows you to complete everything without burning out.

I plan on embarking on the journey through The New Year’s Cleaning Grand Plan in 2012. By doing this, I will have my house organized and clean by April!  This allows me time to spend outside when the weather warms up.  I honestly hate spring cleaning….I don’t want to clean in the spring, I want to be outside and enjoying the Minnesota Spring!  So since I have to be inside during the winter, why not get the cleaning all done during those winter months.

Ready, Set, Let’s start the new year off right with a plan to clean/organize our house!!  I challenge you to join me in participating in the New Year’s Cleaning Grand Plan Challenge at Organizedhome.com!!

The Fourteen Weeks of the New Year’s Cleaning Grand Plan from Organizedhome.com:

Week 1: January 1 – Gather Your Tools!
Week 2: January 8 –  Entry/Foyer
Week 3: January 15 – Living Room
Week 4: January 22 –  Kitchen/Pantry
Week 5: January 29 –  Dining Room
Week 6: February 5 –  Family Rooms
Week 7: February 12 – Bathrooms
Week 8: February 19 – Master Bedroom
Week 9: February 26 – Guest Bedroom or Pick your Room
Week 10: March 4 –  Kid’s Room
Week 11: March 11 –  Attic/Basement/Storage
Week 12: March 18 –  Garage/Storage
Week 13: March 25 – Front Porch
Week 14: April 1 – Finish Up Week!

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

Wishing you a Happy New Year!
Jen C


Our Weekend of Projects……

Labor Day Weekend always seems to be a time for us to get caught up on things around the house.  It is a bit of an exhausting time off, but I am happy to be getting things done and ready for the school year to start!

Our Projects so far this weekend……

Project #1 – Tommy and I updated the school door with the new menu and info for the new school year.

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Last years art work down and school menu for September up!  We also went through the menu and selected the days he would eat at school and which days he will bring a bag lunch.   

Project #2 – Changed out the mismatched frames in the hall and updated some pictures. 

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As you can see from the first two projects, I am avoiding the bigger projects that need to be completed around our house.     Finally, on Friday evening I could no longer ignore the real things that needed to get done and I had to get started. 

Project #3


Our paperwork and office supplies area.  Way too much junk and unable to find anything.  It is a mess I was not looking forward to digging in to, but no more avoiding it. 


This is what I woke up to on Saturday morning…I had pulled everything out on Friday night but there was no way I was getting this cleaned up before I went to bed.  One thing that drove me nuts was I was finding I had multiples of things.  That is the cost of being disorganized.  Does this ever happen to you, you need mailing labels, your are sure you have them somewhere, but can’t find them!  Of course then you buy new ones!  I am finding this happen to me so much.  It is aggravating.  So I am making real point to store like things together…. I am sure I will find alot more doubles in my future. 


End result – completed by Saturday night. I took out numerous bags of paper to the recycling.  I will no longer print out recipes – pinterest.com and our online cookbook is where I will find my recipes.  One big box of donate items.   I was really starting to throw stuff as the night wore on.  I was definitely getting tired.

Project #4 – Saturday morning, Amy (my future daughter in law) came over and it was time to pause the paperwork/office supplies project as she was here to help me paint the bedroom.  My father in law will be moving in with us in 2 weeks and this will be his bedroom. 


This is how far I had gotten in cleaning out the room by the time Amy came over.  We hauled out the last of the stuff and started prepping to paint.  

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Hubby and Amy both helped me with painting the room.  I am very blessed to have their help!


End Result:  Saturday Evening – Extra Furniture moved out, walls painted and the bedroom ready for Grandpa to move in.   I just need to buy a rug for the floor.  We plan on having grandpa over on Monday for supper and to look at the room.   We still need to get grab bars for shower.   Tuesday, we have a company coming over to give us an estimate on a ramp for the back door to allow access to the backyard for Grandpa. 

Project #5 – Sunday morning – hubby says “look in the paper and see if any corn is on sale”.  Well of course it was on sale!  So we went and bought 120 ears of corn for $24.00 to process and freeze for the winter. 


Whew…I need a little break.  The corn is flash  freezing as I type. We find this makes it easier to vacuum seal as the juice doesn’t mess up the seal.   I can smell a wonderful pork roast in the oven which will be our supper this evening and am enjoying a few moments blogging. 

Well, two more days off of work…..I am sure I will find more projects to keep me busy! 

Happy Labor Day!


Back To School: Give Away


Back to School Giveaway!!


LAST CHANCE TO ENTER:  Give Away closes at 11:59pm on September 6th, 2010.  Winner will be posted on Wednesday, the 7th.  Don’t forget to stop back to check if you have won! 


I am excited about “Back to School”.  I love looking at all the school supplies and I think that would be great for this or that.  Yes, I get excited over office supplies.  I always tell people the simple things in life make me happy!


So I want to share my happiness with you!! 


I will be giving away a “Back to School” organizing pack!   This will get you started on developing your own Control Central!  It will include a great new calendar that I am previewing, Amy Knapp’s Big Grid Family Organizer. 


IMG_2241 IMG_2242

Don’t get me started on how much I love a new calendar.  So fresh and ready to conquer my demanding schedule.  I will also include a few other organizing treats to help you make your own Control Center!    What is control central??  It is a must have for all busy households.  I will be posting a entry about how to set one up and their importance in two weeks! 




Also included in this “Back To School” organizing give away is a Magnetic dry erase board, magnetic pencil holder, and spiral idea book.  All essential items to complete your Control Center. 




To enter this drawing simply leave a comment below, that will count as one entry into the drawing.  If you post about this drawing on your blog and leave me a second comment on this post with the link to that post, you will have a second entry into the drawing.  You may only have two entries in this give away.


I will be closing the giveaway at 11:59pm on September 6th.   I will randomly draw a winner and will post the name of the winner on Wednesday, September 7th to celebrate the day my little guy heads back to school. 


Good Luck!!


Back to School Series: Bedtime Routine



Maybe it is the smell of crayons or the hustling to buy school supplies, but my thoughts are turning to “Back to School”.  I need to get back on track after a summer of less structure in our home.I have slacked off on some of my routines this summer.  I have to get in shape for the balancing act of juggling, working fulltime, volunteering and having kids in school.  Therefore, it is “Back to School” boot camp time for this mom!  The success of the morning at our house really is up to me.  I set the tone and attitude for the morning with my children.  Towards the end of last year, the success of our mornings really deteriorated.  I end up feeling so bad if I happen to become inpatient with Tommy in the morning, which happened more often then I liked.I want to start the school year off on the right foot.

I know I need to get back to following my bedtime and morning routines again.I also need to get Tommy back on a school schedule.Hubby and I have agreed on a bedtime for Tommy and will start implementing this on the 23rd.  That will give him 2 weeks back on schedule before school starts.

That means I have one week to get back on track with my bedtime routine, before I focus on the morning routine for Tommy and I.

So I want to chat a bit about our bedtime routines.  Do you have one???   I struggle to do mine each night as I rather do a million other things, but life goes much better if “ I just do it!”   Story of my life, quit complaining and just do it!

 Jen’s Bed Time Routine:
1.  Wash Dishes/Clean Counters (usually some member of my family does this)
2.  Sweep Kitchen
3.  Make Lunches/ Prep for Dinner
4.  Switch Laundry/ Lay out Clothes
5.  Take Dogs Out – 9:00
6.  Go To Bed – 10:00

Do I do each of these items each night??  Nope, life happens, but I try to.  But just doing these few things each night, keeps the house presentable enough for us. 

I like to start my bedtime routine at 8:00 or 8;30, once Tommy has started his bedtime routine with Daddy. The bedtime routine really helps to make my mornings run more smoothly.  If my morning goes more smoothly, then I am a better mommy and wife in the morning.  I remind myself of this each time I procrastinate and tell myself, “just do it!”.  I want to be the best Mommy and Wife I can be.

What is your bedtime routine?  If you don’t have one, tell us three things that you would like to do each evening to make your morning go more smoothly!   Now write them down and start implementing your plan!

I look forward to hearing from you next week about how you have done with your bedtime routine.  We can do this!!

Happy Organizing!

The Great Garage Clean: End of Day 3

Well, it is the end of day three of the great garage clean.   I am very happy with our progress today and I even left to a Dr’s appointment this afternoon that took way too long.   I am so very blessed to have such a wonderful hubby and kids.  Grateful they are willing to help me!  I don’t know what I would do without them. 


Josh thought this would help sell the pool….I think the slide is a better option!  LOL!

IMG_1904 IMG_1909

We took a little break and rode the scooter up and down the street.  It was great way to too cool off.


Yep, that is right I am in the garage and can put my arms out and not touch anything!!!  WOO HOOO!


This is our sell pile – two rows deep.   We are only doing a one day sale, but I don’t know if I have room to get it all out at once.  We will see!


Take a good look at this one.  This is not a trick photo that is actually a car in the garage.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.  Could be years ago…….


Relaxing after a long, but very productive day!!!!  It feels so good to have it all sorted and priced! 

Tomorrow – we will go through some things in the house and price them.   Should be a much shorter day. 

Friday – set up for the sale…..hopefully particpate in the Manitou Days Parade.

Saturday….the big sale – hope a majority of the things find a new home!