Thursday, January 31, 2013

Working from Home in Style

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." 
John Lennon

Life as I know it has been busy this first month of the new year--and NOT with all the things that I would like to fill my life with: friends, home projects, fun activities with the kids... But that's okay. Sometimes to live intentionally we have to distill our life down, and then down some more.

I have been working on a few things at home, though, in the few scattered minutes here & there. It's all about the quality of time, not the quantity.  

One thing I am creating is a home office, separate from the kids' art space.
 
Via South Shore Decorating

I am pretty obsessed with dark walls, tan leather, and Lucite anything. Add in the gold-colored shelves and the office above is ddd-reamyyy!

Since our house is cozy AND open I have had to be creative with where I put a home office. My solution? The entryway! The bookcase is already there. Plus the console behind the sofa makes a perfect desk. A chair for taking off shoes does double duty as my work chair.

Tying it all together will be...


This rug from a friend. It has the color elements that I want for the space. And it's wooly and soft.

Via Effortless Style
Painting a standard door black can give your home an immediately upgraded look. Thrifty Decor Chick gives a great explanation of how to actually paint them. And I really really want to paint ours. I love how the door above is shiny. And I love all the drama on the walls with the Federalist-style mirror and the patterned wallpaper. Not to mention the big basket underneath the table, the sunny yellow tulips, the big chinoiserie urn... Moving on!
Emily A. Clark
The light fixture we currently have in the entryway is a flush-mount on a sloped ceiling, which just feels wrong to me. Plus, it sort of looks like a giant nipple (hence the name "boob light"). While there are many gorgeous choices available {Wayfair has a whole bunch at a variety of prices but none are exactly the one I want}, plenty of bloggers have turned thrift store finds into gorgeous, sophisticated pieces for much less!

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Right now Joss & Main has a fun sale curated by the VP of Creative Communication for Lilly Pulitzer Janie Schoenborn. She is described as having "an artful eye for exuberant design"-- words that are music to my ears! 

Here are a few of the beachy-beautiful pieces that are quickly selling out:

{Thanks to Lisa Mende Design for pointing out this sale!}
I seriously want everything in this sale! Clockwise from left a few of my favorites: patterned wallpaper, slipper chair, mirror, placemats, and pillow cover. All at fairly reasonable prices... And I didn't even mention this treasure which would look soooo good in our master bedroom.

Caribbean Tufted Headboard $264.99

 Do you have a dedicated home office space? Is it a room or have you had to make-do?
 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday I'm In Love: #2

Happy Friday everyone! The world outside my window looks like a snow globe. So pretty! 

Since I am feeling under the {very cold} weather, I am curled up under a blanket on the sofa tonight. Snuggling up with a good book is a favorite thing to do in the winter. Here are a few new books for today's "Friday I'm In Love".

The Smitten Kitchen, a cookbook from blogger Deb Perelman. We found a lot of her recipes this summer and loved them! She cooks in a tiny New York City apartment, which makes her very careful about the number of ingredients she uses.

The Husband List by Janet Evanovich and some other person. I've never read any of Evanovich's books, but I know some people who are big fans, so I would like to check her out. This one caught my eye, and might be fun with Valentine's Day right around the corner. :)

Pride & Prejudice --this is a baby board book, perfect for a friend's baby shower. I love that Cozy Classics has released some of my favorite novels for the littlest readers! 
 
I also love mom memoirist Katrina Kenison and can't wait to read her newest book
Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment

House at Riverton, described as being for fans of Downton Abbey, looks intriguing. 

I am pretty sure that What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend does not resemble what I'll be doing, but whatevs. Laura Vanderkam has a knack for writing about time management in a way that is very engaging.

Life in Grace e-book

Finally a $5 e-book that I can't wait to check out: "31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality" from the author of the Life in Grace blog. She says it is not about having a perfect home but welcoming others with our imperfect hearts. 

A little bit of fiction, a cookbook, a children's book, and lots of self-improvement. Those last books might be my favorite because they always have a happy ending!

Which seems like a fitting way to end this week... Have a wonderful weekend one & all!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Indecision & Clutter

This indecision's bugging me / If you don't want me, set me free / 
Exactly whom I'm supposed to be / Don't you know which clothes even fit me?
"Should I Stay or Should I Go" The Clash 

Over the weekend, I filled four large bags with clothes to donate to charity AND I put them in the trunk of my car. That last part is the key to my lighter feeling today!

Interestingly, at least half of the clothes had already been bagged and set aside for a year or more. So why the delay in actually getting the stuff out of our house?? 

Too many ifs...

I wasn't sure whether to consign the kids' clothes with a local store where I have an account OR find a friend with younger children who could appreciate the clothes OR donate them to charity. 
Griffin, age 6
If I donated the clothes to charity then I should go through the bags and inventory everything for tax-purposes. If you itemize, you can claim a portion of the cost of the clothes. A pretty good deal for the quality and quantity of stuff I would be donating. 

Bela, age 3
If I gave them to a friend, which one? Who has a son just younger than Griff, and who else has a daughter just younger than Bela? Are they the right size? And when will we ever get together to make the swap? 

Griffin, age 7
If I took them to the consignment store, it would mean an out-of-the-way trip for my {already long} daily commute. And I would probably have to make an appointment. There is a limit on how many items you can consign at one time. And they may not even be accepting new consignments right now since they will be moving to a new building soon...

Bags of clothes that no longer fit, though, are not part of the design plan I have envisioned for this house. 

On a deeper level, keeping the little shirts and pj's that Griffin and Bela once wore will not prolong their childhood. These clothes WILL make someone else's life easier. I know that we have certainly been blessed by friends who have passed down clothes to us. 

Bela, age 2

Releasing the attachment to the clothes, and to the idea that I need to make a perfect decision about what to do with them, is so liberating. Not to mention, the liberation of extra closet space!
 
Griffin, age 5
Do you ever have this problem?? How do you make decisions to let go of your clutter more easily?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy Readers Start at Home

I love absolutely LOVE books! The look, the feel, the promise of a great story or enriching lesson. Whatever I am currently reading is always in my purse so whenever I have a free moment, I can read.

 

At home, our bookcase--filled with beloved favorites--is one constant of our decor. It has become a tradition to rearrange them every year on either Memorial Day or Labor Day. The last time I rearranged my books I sorted them by color, and I like the rainbow effect.

On our shelves... (and sorted by genre)
Memoir:
The Happiness Project and Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin 
The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison

Non-Fiction:
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
168 Hours:  You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
What the Happiest People Know About Getting & Spending by Laura Vanderkam 
The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin
 
Fiction:
Everything by Jane Austen
The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer
The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Lighter Reading:
The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

Our bookcase this past holiday season.
In December, we moved the bookcase to the entryway in order to accommodate the Christmas tree. I was hesitant about putting it there, but really love how it looks!

Watching my children learn to love reading makes my heart sing!

Griffin's bookcase.
Bela's bookcase.
The only thing I don't love about books is not having enough time to read. Creating a great reading nook for myself will have to go on my "to do" list.  :)

what i'm reading

Friday I'm in Love: #1

I really love a theme, and since Friday has traditionally been a shopping post, I'm now giving it a name. "Friday I'm in Love" will showcase some of my favorite things for sale.

The inspiration for today's "Friday I'm in Love" is the Island Living Sale on One King's Lane.

Perhaps it's a touch of spring fever (already?! I'm doomed!) or the dream I had the other night about needing a little more color in our house, but this bright sale has got me excited!



Our current color scheme is neutral with high contrast between darks and whites with some blue as an accent color. All of these pieces would be right at home with what we currently have. In fact, the Georgian mirror is very similar to one we already have (except ours is Target, circa 2010).


Some bright sunny yellows would definitely liven things up. I love the shape of these three chairs. The little bits of yellow in the "Swim" print tie it together, while at the same time the turquoise deepens the blue accents we already have.



Wow, the most colorful of all! I love the dragon print pattern on the chair. The neon green butler's tray table and coral tufted ottoman play nicely off of the fabric. The lamp recalls the pattern on the chair, while the shade does the same for the ottoman. The seagrass piece would make a great stool, ottoman, or side table, and I love the pairing of the natural element with the rest of the pieces.

Do you have any favorites from the sale? How are you incorporating color into your spaces?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pantry Details: Step by Step

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Here is a photo of what the pantry looked like BEFORE. It wasn't terribly dis-organized, but as you can see there was a lot of wasted space and things that were not quite right.


Step one: take everything on the floor out
Besides food storage, our pantry had been home to lunchboxes, a cooler,  cleaning supplies, brooms & mops, and paper recycling (because I have a hard time throwing away kid papers). All over the floors. I took all of it out and stacked it in a corner of our dining room.

Step two: purge!
The items on the floor of the pantry really ended up being a lot of stuff. I was so pleased to give away three of Griffin's former lunchboxes to other moms I know via our Freecycle group. I washed them first using the "hand wash" setting on our washing machine. I also went through the food on the shelf to discard anything past its expiration date, bags of chips that had gone stale, and other items open forever but never finished. 

Step three: clean.
Loads of people will tell you to take everything out of your cabinets when you reorganize. I say "No Way!!!" I simply scooched things over (at this point everything was being stored pretty haphazardly anyhow), wiped down the surface with a little soap & water, and began to stack things back the way I wanted them.

Step four: assess what you have for storage.
I already had a lot of low-cost, relatively attractive storage options in wooden clementine boxes, glass canning jars, small jam jars, and clear plastic storage tubs of assorted sizes. The key is to have a balance of these items so it looks intentional and not stashed. I used an old, but pretty, melamine plate for holding our oils & vinegars. These items drip and make a mess but I didn't want to pay for a lazy susan. For larger bottles of oil, I used the lid from one of the large plastic tubs. It's rectangular and had no other purpose since the bottom was being used elsewhere. Maple syrup is stored in a square plastic container that lost its lid long ago (again, to prevent the mess from drips).

Step five: decant & containerize.
A half-open box of Uncle Ben's fit into a tiny glass jar with a clamp-down lid. Open bags of coconut and caramel balls fit inside jam jars. A few small plastic tubs (from lunch meat) hold gravy, sauce, and dip packets; microwave popcorn; Jello boxes; and ice cream sundae toppings.

I also sorted like-item supplies together, using our wooden crates from clementines to hold everything. We have five of these crates for things like baking supplies (cinnamon/baking soda/pudding/muffin mixes), cookie & cake decorating, side dishes (rice & noodle packets), and brown sugar & powdered sugar. I also used a larger clear plastic tub for baking tools such as cupcake liners, KitchenAid attachments, and extra measuring cups, and another for toaster foods (peanut butter, nutella, pop-tarts). A big popcorn tin became storage for all of our cookie cutters.

How to know what to decant? I only put things that were already open into new, see-through containers. Partly so they wouldn't be messy, partly so they wouldn't get buggy.

Step six: go shopping!
Once I had a really good system set up in the pantry, I went shopping. I had hoped to do it online but found that the prices were not at all competitive. While I was buying groceries, I was able to find exactly what I needed to finish off the pantry. I bought just four products for a total cost of $37.27. 

Items I bought were a wire shelf, an undermount basket, a Snapware container, and a Rubbermaid 14-piece Lock-its set (majorly price reduced from $28.93 to $15.99). This is a good time of year to buy organizing supplies on sale because retailers know that lots of people make a resolution to get organized in the new year.

Once I got everything washed, I decanted an open box of cereal, Minute rice, Jiffy baking mix, crackers, and tortilla chips into five of the Lock-its (the two smallest containers will be used for leftovers or snacks). The Snapware is storing all of our baking chips (I have milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips--but no cookies yet :(

I also tore the top off a box of instant oatmeal packets to make them easier to access and used an open-sided plastic basket for sweet potatoes.

Here's another image of the pantry, this time with labels for where things are now.


And since I was talking about how much I would like a new camera yesterday, check out this amazing cake! {The whole thing did seem a bit Marie Antoinette....}


Family Fresh Cooking via the Reluctant Entertainer



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A List of Un-Fun Home Improvement Projects



Or Why I Took A Breath Before Buying A Camera Today
 
Where in the world are those re-organized pantry pictures you might be asking yourself...


Well, to the {long} list of technology items I have broken in my life, I now must add the camera I received for Mother's Day. It may be mere coincidence, but the day I figured out how to change the white balance in the camera so my pics wouldn't have that warm orange glow was also the day it stopped working.  :(  

I trundled off to the office supply store at lunchtime today to buy a new memory card to use either with my old camera or the one lent to me by a friend. Somewhere between here & there, though, I decided that this. is. it! I am buying a DSLR camera today! Not only would it be fun for making before & after photos here on Cosy Carolina, but I could use it at work (we have an event next week) and for family pictures at home. I have the money in the bank so there's no fear of ending up in credit card debt. The list of rationalizations went on and on...

But I also started thinking about home, about who I am accountable to now, and all the things we want to do:
  • The drain field we have to fix in the spring. 
  • All the different elements of refinishing a basement, and the expenses, even with most of it DIY. 
  • Central air conditioning since the current temp of 17 degrees will be a fond memory in the dog days of summer. 
  • Paint for the entire interior (and maybe someone else to do it).
  • The minimum three-months living expenses I want to save to ensure that if I ever lose my job we don't lose the house. 

So I took a breath. I put the camera down and walked away. Albeit with a fairly heavy duty pencil sharpener and these wall-pockets for organizing school papers. Someday I will blog about our home office/homework station. Someday...

The good news??? The pantry is not only organized but staying organized and functioning great!!! It really was worth it. I honestly can't wait to reveal the details!

Since I don't have any awesome pictures for you (yet!), here is a crazy coincidence I found on One Kings Lane today.



The Art Nouveau mirror on the left is EXACTLY like the one that had been my grandmother's when she was growing up. I am guessing our version must be from the late 1920s or early 1930s. ?? You can see it in a variety of places around our house in the two photos on the right. 

I'm in such shock to see it for sale that I haven't decided how I feel about its comeback. What do you think? Has this ever happened to you with a beloved antique?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pantry Organizing: Storage Basics

When I last left you all, it was a question of whether I would organize the pantry or the home office first... So what did I choose??

The Pantry!!

Nearly immediately after I hit "publish" on that post I wandered into the kitchen and started the process of reclaiming our pantry. 

I had been fantasizing about the project all week, envisioning what it would like when I was done, and online shopping for containers and other helpful items like racks, shelves, and baskets. 


Adding up my online carts was scary! Anchor Hocking is having 60% sales on their shopping site. I had about $50 worth of glass canisters in my cart (but had to spend $99 to get free shipping). Another $70 at Crate & Barrel where those cool metal baskets were $5 off (but I just threw away a 15% off coupon that had expired). They are, however, competitively priced on the le parfait jars (and my French teacher just had a stroke because I used "the" before "le"). The additional $100 at the Container Store was for basic, un-pretty items, like plastic baskets in assorted sizes (but matching), wire racks, and plastic food containers. So, $220 total in stuff for organizing the pantry... I don't think so.

The process was good for helping me figure out some guidelines, though. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind when organizing your pantry or kitchen cabinets:

1. Clear containers for staples.
In every pantry reorganization story I read, the recurrent theme is to use clear containers for organizing staples like spaghetti noodles, rice, cereal, crackers, etc. This way you can quickly & easily see if you are running low on an item. 

2. Square bottoms are best.
Square, straight bins and baskets use space better. Round canisters or bins that have a slope to them leave a gap between containers--not good if you are looking to maximize all your space.

3. Containerize.
Put like things together in a basket or bin to make it easier to use those items. 
 
4. Matchy Match
You will have a greater sense of visual continuity in your space if you use the same type of box/basket/bin for storing items. 

I feel so lucky to have a pantry! In every other house I have lived in, I've had a few small cabinets for food storage, and had to make do with what I had

So how did I organize ours and how much did I spend?? That will have to be tomorrow's post... Time to walk my dog!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Organizing: My Project Schedule

A battle is currently being waged in my home--or at least in my mind--over which home project to start first. Both (desperately) need to be done.

Home Office image source
Pantry image source
Tomorrow I'll go to the big box store and stock up on canisters, baskets, and expandable shelves for the pantry. Or, maybe I'll turn the other way out of our driveway and go to the office supply store to buy folders, boxes, and drawer trays for my home office. 


Either way, I have found it helps enormously to have a budget (know how much money I want to spend & what I can afford), take measurements, and have a vision of how I want the space to function and look when it is complete.

Matchbook Magazine
Work-at-home days may become totally glamorous with an organized home office and well-stocked pantry. Who knows?! You have to believe it to be it.

Tonight, though, I am kicked back on the couch listening to the Positively Present playlist. Watching the YouTube video for "Locked Out of Heaven" is almost like being at a fun party... and I get to wear comfy clothes. Happy Friday!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Creation of a Style Board



Like style words, a signature style board can help you figure out what you like in order to give you some inspiration for decorating your space. Check out the fun series from Darlene Weir at Fieldstone Hill Design who has a tutorial on how to make your own collage. {Incidentally, her interior design work is featured in the January issue of Better Homes & Gardens. I cannot even imagine how fun that would be! The day BHG arrives in my mailbox is one of my favorite days of the entire month, and I'm not even in it!!}



Above is my style board. From the images I've chosen you can tell that I like black and white (that sailboat is called the Shamrock, which also reveals my Irish roots), soft sheepskin in layered rooms, hillside castles, pink peonies, coffee, big windows, the outdoors, babies, and the color orange. I feel it is super important to point out that these are images that I "pinned" on Pinterest, and are not original to Cosy Carolina, not even that sweet sweet baby.

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Today Cosy Carolina launched its own page on Facebook. I was rewarded by lots of nice friends who "liked" the page. If you haven't yet and you get the chance, please visit http://www.facebook.com/CosyCarolina. Thank you!  :)

 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Upholstered Pieces in the Dining Room

I sense a timeless style emerging as a trend for 2013 in dining spaces. Upholstered furniture!

Part of Miss Mustard Seed's Sale on Joss & Main


I can just imagine these wonderful chairs at each end of a long table... 

When I was setting up our dining area nearly three years ago, I had a round wooden table from my parents, and planned to buy the modern chairs I ended up with. Except... I wanted white chairs because I love the dark/light contrast. 

Found at...


What we have now...

For larger meals, we have a leaf for the table and we borrow two of these wooden cafe chairs from other places in the house.


Overall I am happy with the system we have and how it looks, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming up some new ideas...
The dining room from another angle.
Something larger and sturdier yet also more comfy. A plush banquette on one side of the table with storage for board games would be ideal, in an easily washable fabric. Magic!!

I am inspired by this gorgeous piece on sale this week from World Market.

Source
To make the banquette what I want (washable and with storage) I am thinking about adapting this headboard tutorial using pegboard.

Source
 Then I would add this cute table for less than $150.
Source

I can see it perfectly in my mind... And it looks awesome!!

How do you feel about upholstered pieces in the dining room? I am sure that it would help me to linger over my dinner a little longer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rug Sets

A few Sundays ago I saw a great price on a set of four rugs in an ad from Macy's. The sizes were approximately 8x10, 5x7, 3x5, and a runner. All for $444. !! There were four color choices (red, black, navy, and cream) and all had an Oriental rug design. 

Close-out rug from Macy's
Couristan Rug from Macy's
**These aren't the actual patterns that were part of the sale... It's just a little sampling of what's available at Macy's online that I like.**

I fantasized a little bit about buying the set and putting the large rug over our wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room; the 5x7 under our dining table; the 3x5 in the entry; and the runner in front of the sink in the kitchen. 


For the first time ever, I was considering using the same pattern for all of the area rugs. And why not? Like I've mentioned before, we have an open floorplan in the main living area. The entry, living room, dining area, and kitchen are essentially one large room. Using the same pattern could be very cohesive, visually tying together the four distinct areas. 


Currently the two main rugs in our house have the same base color, which coordinates with the sandy-colored wall-to-wall carpeting. They move around quite a bit. The 4x6 sisal (from World Market) is usually either over the tile near the front door or too-small under the dining table. The 3x5 with pattern (from Target) is in the little space between the mudroom and the master bedroom, in front of the sliding glass door in the dining area, or by the sink. 

Ultimately there are never enough rugs in our house, which is why we move them around so much and another reason the 4 for $444 deal was so attractive. 

Even without the special pricing, using several of the same patterned rugs might not be a bad idea. I definitely feel a challenge to make it conform to my sense of style and not look old lady-ish. What do you think? Do you have any rug sets?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Style Words: How To

Remember last week when I talked about style words? Well, I've been mulling over ours, and have come to the conclusion that they don't really get it

So today I am attempting to come up with some new ones, and in the process show you how it's done so you can come up with your own.  :)

1. Haven
Our house is about 20 minutes from where we live in the sense of school, work, and friends. This naturally makes who comes over (or whether anyone comes over at all) a very intentional thing. And just driving away from the regular world to go home each day makes home feel like a refuge. Our safe haven from the frenzy of modern life...

Source
2. Open
The floorplan of our home is open concept: the entry, living room, dining area, and kitchen all open into one another. There are no barriers, each space is accessible to all the others. We are never really apart when we are in this space, which is what I love about our house.


3. Relaxing
We've made relaxing and spending cozy time together a big focal point of our house. The living room is dominated by a large sectional and a big-screen TV. It accurately reflects what we most like to do together and that's spend time with each other.

Source

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4. Easy
The reason I love organizing so much is that it makes everything so much easier. I can focus on adding the right amount of vanilla to my recipe, not where in the world the teaspoon is

Source 
5. Happy & Playful
This is a home with kids, and the work of children is play. I want them to remember their childhood as happy. And I want to model happiness for them. So happy spaces for them, and fun little touches for me.

Source
Source


Besides the five words above, I notice that I value light bright spaces, neutrals and clean lines, and unexpected twists on the traditional. I want to feel like we are on vacation because our time together is a treasure. Knowing all this, and being able to visualize my style through these words, helps me to figure out what to do next.

So think about YOUR home. What makes it unique? How do you want people to feel in the space? How can your home reflect who you are as a person or family? What are your special interests? How can your style reflect that more?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday Cleanup in 30 Minutes or Less

Our Christmas tree was out at the curb on New Year's Day. I know plenty of people who were itching to get theirs out of the house sooner--and return to some sense of normalcy in their homes--but I would have been content to leave ours up another week or so. 

Atticmaxx.com
During college I went on a study abroad trip over Christmas break. My classmates and I stayed in a fancy hotel in Mexico City. It had been professionally decorated with a stunning Christmas tree in the lobby. Every day after New Year's I would walk into the lobby expecting that the Christmas tree would be gone--and feel happy surprise that it was still there. It wasn't until after the Festival of the Three Kings that the workers finally came to take down the tree. That struck me as an interesting way to celebrate the holiday that honors our savior's birth.


I also really really didn't want to deal with putting away the decorations. The boxes & bins are all the way in the far corner of the basement. On the floor. I don't have the right storage for everything. Maybe I would really rather put everything in the attic...


Isn't that just.so.gorgeous?!? Note how the different holidays are in color coded bins. Lovely and brilliant!

Sometimes I let the perfect be the enemy of the good. So what if I don't have a perfect system yet. I would much rather sacrifice (temporarily) some hidden spaces for a clutter-free living space. And there is nothing like a pile of something in this house to make everyone feel like it's perfectly okay to dump their stuff wherever (and as I look around I see that I am the worst offender in this category...).


This morning I decided to try to get done as much as I could before breakfast. While my coffee was brewing I quickly unloaded the dishwasher, then emptied the sink. I lost the race--the coffee was done before I was--but I won a clean kitchen.

While I sipped my coffee I started walking around the main living area, scooping things up into small piles and returning them to where they belonged. One pile was just kids' toys. I found a cap gun under a chair, headphones on the entertainment center, a Jack & Annie book on the console table. Binoculars, walkie talkies, and other spy gear strewn across the bar. 

Another pile was stuff for the laundry room/mudroom. Gloves & mittens that had been left out. A hat. The dog's leash. Some new clothes that need to be washed. 

All the while, I was collecting the assorted Christmas decorations for another pile that will be stashed in the bins in the basement until I can re-create the awesome system from Attic Maxx. But that will require a plan, and I'll need more than just the time before my day begins to make it happen.

Catholic monk and poet Thomas Merton wrote that happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony. This morning, in less than 30 minutes, I was able to return a little bit of that happiness to our home. What can you do right now to make your home more organized? Take one teensy step and see where it leads you. 

Happy Friday everyone!

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