What are Your Standards?

I was re-reading a book called Home Comforts yesterday. The author was a lawyer, but really likes being a homemaker better. She approaches it from a professional point of view.

One of the things I found fascinating was something she said in her early chapters — that when you try to organize your home, you need to decide on what you consider an acceptable baseline.

This isn’t what someone else thinks is an acceptable baseline, but what is okay and makes YOU happy. She comments that one of the things she does that is utterly contrary to what a 1950s-trained homemaker would do is allow her child to keep a project in progress out. Everything else needed to be put away, but while the kid is assembling that Lego Helm’s Deep (I pick that as a fairly involved project) putting the toys away doesn’t include putting away that half-built model in her home.

It was an interesting thread to pull.

I think a lot of people who struggle with keeping their homes without shame do is pick a standard that isn’t THEIRS. They don’t have a baseline that’s okay with them. They just see pictures from magazines and homemaking blogs without giving a single thought to how they actually live.

I struggled with this a lot. The house would get untidy and I’d marathon clean so that it was “perfect” then it would get messy and so on.

My baseline isn’t “perfect” (does that exist outside of a staged home for sale?). I was thinking about that as I was tidying a few things away to dust this morning. I had some random stuff that had piled on the dresser in the past few days. You know, things that are certainly out of place but haven’t reached the “mess” threshold in my mind yet. I had a coathanger, a nightgown, my blood glucose meter and sharps bin, a health pamphlet, my Kindle, a water bottle, and a custard cup I’d been using to have a snack of nuts. Staged for a photograph? No. Able to put away quickly enough that dusting didn’t seem like an overwhelming chore? Oh yes.

It was my baseline. It was acceptable to me. I know that FlyLady urges people to try to keep their homes in such a condition that it’s less than fifteen minutes worth of messy — meaning that you could put away clutter in fifteen minutes or less.

That’s not a bad baseline, either. But you know, you could choose anything you wanted, as long as it’s a standard you thought about. It’s the thinking about that’s important.

For instance… Mail on the counter. Is that okay? For my household, it sure seems to be. In tidying up for my Clean All the Things day, yeah, I did toss and shred some mail and file some stuff to take care of. So, a few pieces of mail on the counter is dandy. It gets taken care of in a timely manner.

What about laundry? Some people have a Re-wear Chair. This is a place they set out clothes that they’ve worn, but don’t want to put back in drawers or a closet. Other people have a rule that if it’s clean enough to re-wear, it’s clean enough to put away. What’s your rule?

The idea, and I really liked it, is to set some Official Standard in your mind. Do dishes have to be washed and put away? Just washed and in the drying rack? At least on to soak? What’s YOUR standard and baseline that’s really okay with how you live?

The UFYH author, Rachel Hoffman, encourages anyone sharing space to think about this and have it spelled out. While she’s right that it’s good for anyone living with someone else, I think it’s also good for agreements with oneself.

I also think that setting the bar too high for whatever you genuinely have time for is counter-productive. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to hit that bar and won’t do anything. I strongly discourage anyone from setting a standard that would appear in a staged shot for a magazine.

The home is a dynamic place. You LIVE there. Setting an acceptable standard that means you could have some judgy person drop in and have nothing to judge is silly, counter-productive, and frankly pointless. The home should be a safe space, and you need to think about what the environment is that makes you feel safe. That’s going to be different for different people.

I was going to include a picture from my own home and decided not to, as it’s not the point of this little musing. What’s the standard that makes YOU happy and comfortable? My house doesn’t count.

I Put Things Away Because I am Lazy

In my Endless Quest for Tidiness, which is mostly analysis and musing these days, as my home is absolutely tidy enough, I noticed a habit of my mother’s in much sharper relief than usual.

She puts things away.

I know, duh!  Putting things away makes things tidy, right?  However, it’s more subtle than I thought. 

I noticed it on vacation, of all places.  Mom and Dad like to take a morning walk, and I’d volunteered to get breakfast for the family while they were doing so that week.  My husband loves to get out in the evenings when we’re at the beach, so I figured our Daily Walk (yes, we care about that, too) would be a good thing to do in the evenings after dinner.

Before Mom goes to bed, she likes everything to be put away.  For instance, in the kitchen dishwasher emptied of clean dishes, dish drainer empty of dishes that have dried after dinner.  She did this while my husband and I were on our walk.

Now, I wake at first light most days, call it twenty minutes or so before sunrise.  In real life, I might roll over to sleep some more, but I don’t at the beach.  I like to watch the sun rising over the ocean.  It’s one of my favorite sights in the whole world!

Walking into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee in preparation for my Morning Ritual was really nice.  Everything was neat and clear and calm, and it just made me feel good.

After coming home from our vacation, I decided I wanted to try that out in my own life.  I told myself if it was a burden or I couldn’t make it stick, I’d go back to my “never more than fifteen minutes of messy” style.  It’s certainly tidy enough and no big deal, so it wasn’t like I’d have this pressure and feel like I failed if I decided I didn’t want to keep it up.

I found out something.

I most emphatically do want to keep it up.

Putting things away every night reduces chances for accidents and property damage

I have a young cat.  Mr. Tumnus gets into things all the time, as he’s still a very curious and active little fellow.  When I put things away, the cat doesn’t get into my knitting and scatter my yarn and project all over the living room.

Making sure I put away my evening cup of tea ensures that when I get my morning coffee, I’m not risking a spill by my writin’ chair removing the empty cup from the coaster and replacing it with the mug of hot coffee.  I’ve spilled coffee on more than one knitting project from this little dance of switcheroo.

When I put things away every night, my kitchen stays tidy. 

Washing a pot or pan after a meal and always having a dishwasher ready for the things that can be machine washed is easy.  Unless you’re stressed to the point of needing medical care (and no shame about that, it happens to all of us) rinsing out a cereal bowl just isn’t overwhelming. 

Since we tend to pile mail on the kitchen counter, I also note that in tidying the kitchen every night, I’m loathe to leave mail piled on the counter.  It goes in the recycling, shredder, or is dealt with immediately.

Waking up to tidy spaces helps with mental clarity and creativity

Now, I’ve been keeping my room relatively neat for a long time. But, there would be times when it would get very cluttered.  Maybe I’d been slow to put laundry away.  Maybe I had a bunch of books I’d been reading all over the place (less common now that I read electronically).  Maybe I’d dropped yesterday’s clothing on the floor rather than putting it in the dirty clothes hamper properly.  Maybe I was in the middle of a sewing project and was leaving everything out until I had completed the garment.  It was never a big deal. Again, never more than fifteen minutes of messy, so if I took fifteen minutes on my housework day to tidy the room, it was easily brought back to rights.

I’m in the middle of sewing a dress right now.  Just for giggles, and to continue the experiment that I thought I might drop, I put all my equipment away after completing what I’d intended to do on it. 

For me, I realized that it is easier for me to think calmly about the project, to take it appropriately slowly when I am not eager to be done so my daggone room isn’t really cluttered from all the paraphernalia from the project.  Being less likely to rush means a better quality project that I’m happier with.

Tidying every night reduces work

Back when I lived in a really cluttered home, that sounded crazy.  Yes, yes, yes, I grew up in a tidy home, but tidying my room was always this big daggone production.  Surely the tidy spend all their time cleaning and tidying, right?

Not even close. 

I spent four and a half hours sewing on my new dress yesterday.  Putting away all my sewing stuff took 00:02.38.  Yes, less than three minutes!  Yes, I timed it.  Yes, I have space to put my stuff away easily because I’d Konmaried my home about four years ago.  So, I guess Ms. Kondo was right about the whole tidy forever thing.  *wrygrin* It’s just that “tidy” is still a dynamic process.  Which makes sense.  One’s home is a dynamic process, or it should be.  You do work, you get things messy, you put things away.  We all do it.  It’s just that making the cycle more rapid makes things easier.

Friends, if you take a look at home much time I spend writing, knitting, working, playing video games, working out, or sewing, any one of those items will take more time in a week than I spend on cleaning by at a minimum of a factor of two.

So, yes, I am going to keep the practice (which I hope to develop into a habit) of putting everything away and “rebooting” my house every night.


I have better things to do than tidy all the time.

Feminism and Housework

My husband never helps around the house.

Now those of you who know my husband are about to freak out and jump to his defense. Stay with me, this isn’t as bad as it seems.

My husband never helps around the house.

A few years ago, my husband read, as many men did, “You Should Have Asked” and had rather a revelation. Like a lot of men, they were absolutely happy to do assigned chores. They understood that they lived in a home, so they also needed to do housework.

So, if a chore was assigned, they’d do it and that was cool. They’d do exactly what was asked. They were good, modern men who were supportive of their partners’ needs and didn’t expect all the housework to be done by the woman.

The point of that comic, if you didn’t read it, was the idea of the mental load – how the project manager doesn’t do the work because managing is work. Many, many women are the “home project managers” as well as the staff. The comic throws it into sharp relief.

See that to-do list? He wrote it after a discussion with me. We both had finished some projects (him a graphic novel due out July 4th, and me a programming class) and neither of us had really addressed the housework all that much. Nothing outrageous, but he commented that the house needed some TLC, and was Sunday an okay day to do it?

Both of us stay on task better when we have lists so we don’t get distracted (as I am right now writing this piece!) and so he asked me to help him come up with What Needed Doin’.

He took the initiative. He asked for input. We do have slightly different household priorities. He’s a much more thorough vacuumer than I am. I care more about glass, mirrors, and basic levels of clutter. But between us, yeah, the work is done and done well.

So no, my husband never helps around the house. He knows that the home needs maintenance and will take ownership of that fact.

Which is exactly what we need to see more of!

Misunderstanding the Goal of Tidiness

“What can you do to give your house a show-room shine?”

This question brought me up short.

Have I struggled for many years to develop the habits that will allow me to have a neat, clean home?


My goal was never, not once, to have it be a home that you’d see in a magazine. I wanted decoration and color schemes that would make me happy. I wanted to be able to store my stuff neatly and logically. I wanted to let go of possessions that I no longer needed.

But the idea that I wanted my house to look… like a stage set or a picture in a magazine never once crossed my mind. Magazine articles are generic. They’re a least common denominator. That’s like having your home decorating ideal be a hotel room or something – pleasant enough, and will be close enough to most people’s tastes not to offend the eye.

What an awful way to live!

See? That’s my my view from my writin’ chair. Neat enough, sure. But is it staged as it would be as if I were selling the house? Made generic and magazine perfect? No. There are dragons and skulls and pictures and toys around that are unique to me and make me happy.

That is such an individual thing. I have dragons and yarn and books. My husband has action figures and movies and artwork he has drawn. My mother has teapots and depression glass and crystal figurines.

Sure, we want to make sure that we don’t use the sofa as a wardrobe. (Though I can remember having someone come over and there was underwear on the sofa. It can happen…) We want our bathrooms clean and our dishes washed.

But showroom shine? I don’t live in a showroom. I have a home. I like my knitting by my writin’ chair so I can pick that up and work on my projects.

The goal is to be able to get to my yarn and have a place where my knitting lives so I can grab it easily. The goal is to have clean clothes put away and dirty clothes in the hamper. The goal isn’t and should never be to have my home look static like a museum exhibit. Homes are a dynamic process, so they cannot and should not always look “perfect.”

Whatever that means.

A Clean House is a Sign of a Wasted Life

I saw this image floating around the Internet today and it severely pissed me off.

It pissed me off on several different levels. The first level is simply that one is wasting one’s life as a woman doing “women things.” Do not get me started. I mean, totally don’t. Denigrating “women’s work” is one step away from saying that if one codes as “female” one isn’t valuable.

I started the day with a home in need of a bit of TLC in terms of tidying and cleaning. It’s the end of the day, I have my feet propped up, there’s a martini at my left elbow and when I scan my immediate surroundings, I feel happy.


Things are acceptably uncluttered.

It’s not about being Perfect Little Wifey or any nonsense like that. My husband has done “housework” today, too. He made breakfast (steak and eggs, and oh my GOD was it good), cleaned up from that, emptied the dishwasher, emptied the trash, cleaned out the aquarium, made us lunch, cleaned up from that, brought me a martini… Oh, hell, I don’t remember everything that he did. He saw what needed doin’ and did it. As did I.

Did we waste the day?

Don’t be an idiot.

To both of us, a clean house means peace. It means a launchpad for other adventures. It means a place to come back to and heal from the wounds of our adventures. We’re neither of us religious, but our home is our sanctuary.

And that’s a lot of the point. I know that some people post that because they feel bad or guilty that maybe their homes aren’t “perfect.”

Mine isn’t.

Nor should it be. A home is a sanctuary, or should be. Does it enclose you and heal you and make you feel safe? Maybe you need some clutter to feel those things. That’s okay. Maybe you feel the sanctus of the sanctuary when things are ritually cleansed. (I do).

Neither side is a waste.

In Praise of Oxyclean

An aunt gave me a tablecloth that my great-grandmother had made. It’s linen and it had been stained. I knew you shouldn’t use chlorine bleach on antique linens, but other than that, I was not sure how to revive it. As a matter of fact, chlorine bleach can leave a stain on antique whites. I am not sure if that’s what had happened here, or if it was something else – food, time, long-term storage… It’s hard to say.

So, there were several stains on it even though I’d washed it and hung it outside in the sunshine.

I didn’t sweat it too much. The stains were covered by the table runners I’ve made, so what the heck? It was my great-grandmother’s, which meant I was sentimentally inclined to use it.

I read an article (I am not sure where) about using oxygen-based bleaches like Oxyclean to get stains out of linen and I figured it was worth a try, since it was unlikely to hurt the tablecloth.

I mixed up the powder according to the directions on the package (yes, I read directions. I spent a couple of years writing knowledge articles for techs and people who don’t read directions make me wanna smack something) and soaked the tablecloth. After checking it a couple of times, it looked safe to risk soaking it all night.

When I washed it this morning:

If you look really closely, you can see a couple of faintly yellow spots. But I’m happy to have a nice, white tablecloth where I don’t have to count on runners to hide the stained spots.

I also have some badly-stored linens from when I was first married that I’ve kept, but never use. Guess what I am going to do next?

Is Housekeeping an Avoidance Technique?

Last night I found myself getting annoyed with someone being Wrong on the Internet. Instead of focusing on it, I cleaned a couple of brass candlesticks I have.

I’m looking at these candlesticks now, shining brightly in the morning light, and I got to thinking about how often I use productivity as a distraction from negative emotion.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider this essentially a flaw. In fact, I consider it mostly a good thing, as it means when I am feeling something I don’t like, I can go do something else.

If, of course, there is nothing serious that needs to be done about the negative thing.

That’s the rub. There are a couple of extremes in dealing with stuff in life that I really try to avoid. The first is ruminating. I’m good at ruminating. In fact, I am so good at it that I don’t think a got a proper night’s sleep in my life until I developed the habit of listening to audiobooks to go do sleep to, and to lull me back to sleep when I wake at night.

Lest you think this is a crutch and smarm at me about what I’d do if I cannot have the audiobooks, I will point out that I did develop a non-technological solution that works just as well when needed.

I re-write the endings to books that ended in a way I didn’t like. Gone with the Wind, believe it or not, has given me endless fodder for plot points in which Scarlett gets a damn clue and grows up. This puts me back to sleep without ruminating.

Do I think that I have a tendency to pick books that have some sort of bearing on my Current Issue in some way and am actually solving a problem? Almost certainly. But the fiction gives me an emotional remove that allows me to go to sleep and let my subconscious deal with it and me to get some damn sleep.

So, I go through a lot to prevent ruminating. I’m okay with that. The alternative is pretty unpleasant.

Isn’t that sticking your head in the sand? What about Scarlett O’Hara thrusting away anything unpleasant with the whole, “I’ll think about that tomorrow” thing she did?

You do bring up a good point. This tool isn’t about ignoring problems. Notice that when I got annoyed last night and went to polish some candlesticks, that it was something I genuinely couldn’t do anything about. I’m not recommending this for things you can do something about. That would be irresponsible and it would be sticking your head in the sand about the issue.

I think the problem is at least in part our emotional makeup is very instantly reactive. In a living situation of low technology and high danger, it pretty much needs to be. That’s how we evolved, isn’t it? Being jumpy is a survival trait when you’re dealing with snakes crawling over you in your sleep and lions chasing you when you were just trying to catch dinner. Reacting with heavy emotion in a big and obvious way to the negative keeps you alive! Seeing as much of the negative as possible is likewise.

It’s not quite as useful in my air-conditioned office or upholstered living room and my full fridge.

We live in a more complex world now, and our survival trait of seeing and noticing the negative and having a serious need to do something about it RIGHT NOW just doesn’t serve as useful a purpose when problems need careful though an analysis. Nor is the emotional activation doing as much good when you’re not prepping your muscles to run away from a hippo.

That doesn’t mean that you should let things slide, though. If you have a problem, it’s fine to ask yourself, “Is this something I can do something about in this second?” Sometimes it is. And yes, the responsible thing is definitely to do something then. Do as much of the paperwork as you have the information for, make the appointment to get the car fixed, etc.

But after that? The responsible thing to do is to find something else you can do something about.

So, do I question whether or not I use chores as pseudo-productivity and an escape from something more difficult to deal with? You bet I question it!

Even so, I do think it is useful, because at least one of the problems I am dealing with isn’t unpleasant surroundings.

Desks and Writing Nooks

desksandwritingnooks-1I’m using my writing nook for the first time in a long time.

My mother gave me this beautiful little reproduction piece some years ago. It’s not an escritoire (no drawers), but it totally looks like a place where the lady of the house would write her notes. It holds a place of honor in a little alcove in my living room — complete with brass candlestick. It’s where my laptop lives when I am not using it. I love it because it’s pretty with dark cherry wood and brass — a combination of which I am inordinately fond.

I like the place for writing, even though I often bring the laptop to my big red comfy chair. For what it’s worth, writing at a desk rather than lounging feels more formal, as if the writing is more serious.

I hadn’t used it much because my old laptop’s wireless card had died. Since it was getting close to replacement time for the machine anyway, I just didn’t use the writing nook much any more for a few months.

Because I’d gotten out of the habit, this is the first time I’m back writing in my writing nook. I like this place because it reminds me of a desk I used to have that I also loved.

That desk was this huge Sauder piece. It folded into an armoire when not in use, but opened up into a computer desk when I was working. Because the household computer was in the dining room where we lived, it was nice to have something that could fold my desk away into just a nice piece of furniture when we were eating or had guests.

Thing is, if you have to put the furniture together yourself, chances are slim it will survive many moves. We couldn’t manage to get it to New England. For many years, my computer desk was a large foldable banquet table, such as you’d find for church basement suppers, outdoor wedding receptions or at craft shows.

It worked perfectly well, but I do like a nice desk.

I mentioned that desk to my husband recently and he commented we could afford a new one if I wanted one.

I don’t. That desk was amazingly well designed for a tower, keyboard, monitor and such. It had bookshelves and a single hanging file drawer. Goodness knows I really loved, but it’s one of those things where I simply don’t live that way anymore. I use a laptop! I don’t need heavy furniture for a computer. Shoot, in my bedroom, I have my desk from high school and it serves perfectly well when I work up there.

It’s funny to me how the laptop has changed our view of office furniture. For that matter, how digital media has changed our view of necessary storage space. I own more books than ever, but my bookshelves are not overcrowded. I use devices to read most casual works, and save the shelf space for treasured editions.

While I no longer need a new desk or anything, but I do still admire some old designs and sometime think I may let desire override need. With the advent of the laptop, one of the most practical pieces of home office furniture is a very old design indeed — the Secretary.

I’ve always loved them and the idea you can just fold away and close the desk for the day so that you don’t see the work space any more. While impractical without significant alteration for a desktop setup, oh my word are they beautiful for a laptop. I’ve even considered getting one. The kind I really like are the Queen Anne style ones. Now, I don’t mean either the Chippendale sort or even the reproductions popular in the Early Victorian period (I want to use the desk, not put it in a museum!) But I feel like at the moment since I am in a getting rid of stuff phase, I should think extremely carefully about acquiring new stuff. While I’ve no immediate plans to move, chances are slim that we’re going to live forever in our present home. I’d rather not overstuff our current home with furniture as it is quite certain that when we move, we’ll downsize. There’s a fair amount of furniture we use and love right now that may not get to stay, after all. It would be senseless to buy one right now until I know what space I’ll be in.

Chances are good that at some point I really will get such a desk, as I’ve loved these things for many years.

More reporting on the KonMari Method

I was wondering if I was going to keep up with the KonMari method and even if I was going to finish the whole process. I started, figuring that in reality there was no real downside even if all I did was declutter a few things and then lose interest.

Yeah, I’m sticking with it, and am almost done. I only have a couple of places to declutter, then the sentimental category to sort through and I’ll be done.

So, what’s changed and what hasn’t since I started doing this?


  1. I put everything away right away. This has never really been a habit with me. I knew it should be, but I never really got the hang of it. Now I figured out why. I had so much stuff in drawers and cabinets, and that were stores a bit illogically that I couldn’t really just open a drawer and drop it into its proper place. Now that I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff (about 35 lawn bags between trash, recycling, and donation) drawers open easily, there is space to put things away properly and the storage has been reorganized so that things I use frequently are easy to get to and put away. I’m no less lazy than I ever was, but now, it’s easy to do.
  2. Empty spaces highlight what needs doing. I have a box on my mostly empty kitchen counter that needs to go to the post office. I’ll take a walk there this morning and drop it off.I tend to procrastinate stuff like this. I can’t find the packing tape, there’s so much stuff on the counter that I am distracted from things I need to take care of, the mess is screaming for me to take care of it first before I go on to other things. I get so overwhelmed I just figure it’s easier to mess around on the Internet than take care of what I need to do.
  3. My husband is on board with this method. Decluttering has been known to make him uneasy. He’s afraid he’s going to be pressured to get rid of things he values. Since the Konmari method requires that I not touch his stuff and that he keeps what sparks joy, it’s easy for him to go through things. He knows that the only thing I am going to ask is, “Does this really spark joy?” If the answer is yes, he knows I am not saying another word.
  4. I am spending more time on things I enjoy. I don’t feel guilty about sitting down and writing this puff piece on home organization. The house is clean, and I don’t have anything I haven’t taken care of nagging at me. I am knitting more as I’ve cleaned up my knitting and sewing stuff so that it is easy to get to, and easy to put away. And I do put it away when I am not working on it. But I don’t have this constant, low-level background guilt that there are other things I should be doing instead of writing or knitting or playing a video game.

Things that have not changed

  1. I am not doing everything recommended in the Konmari Method. I tried storing my shampoo and soap and stuff outside of the tub in my bathroom. I did it for about three days and decided I didn’t like it. Now, I did get rid of excess, but shampoo, conditioner, and soap live in the tub. I did some decluttering by location instead of classification of item as well, most notably the kitchen. It worked for me and while it was kinda overwhelming to confront, I am very happy with the results.
  2. I already had some habits I liked. I already made my bed, swish-n-swiped my bathroom and shined my kitchen sink every day. Still, do it and I’m fine with that.
  3. I will never be a true minimalist. I thought I wanted to be a minimalist and have a house as severely uncluttered as the pictures of the old samurai homes. It turns out I really don’t want that. I felt the click that said, “Just right” about how the house looked and my belongings long before I got to that level of being decluttered. I have my dragons in their lighted alcove on a bookshelf in the living room. I have a far larger collection of books than Marie Kondo would recommend. I am also in one of the professions that she lists as someone who probably needs a lot of books, but that’s neither here nor there. I kept the ones that brought me joy and that’s all that is necessary. There are pictures on walls, and my display of china and my Mrs. Potts toy tea set makes me quite happy, even if it isn’t as uncluttered as all that.

Komono and the Konmari Method

komono-1More in my decluttering saga using the Konmari method.

First of all, Komono and Kimono are different words. Kimono means clothes. Komono is miscellaneous stuff.

So, I’ve finished sorting my clothes, books, and papers – including shredding things with personal info on them. Next is Komono. This is actually kind of a large category because it includes household items, valuables, craft supplies, stuff for hobbies, office supplies, electronics, and kitchen items. Mostly, it’s anything left that is not a sentimental item.

Yeah… This is going to take a while.

While technically skincare products were supposed to be a single category under komono, I combined it with bathroom supplies in general because while I wear makeup, it’s kind of like my clothes. I keep it kinda minimalist.

Or so I thought. I took everything out of the bathroom cabinet and out of my makeup drawers, as well as some drawers where I had some nail polish and stuff. I actually filled an entire trash bag of stuff that I no longer need or love.

The image is my makeup drawer. This was after the purge and there was a lot more in it. Stuff that was out of date, colors that didn’t suit me, hair ties and hairbands I never used…

When I originally finished this, I did not have dividers for my makeup. One of the things that Marie Kondo recommends is not worrying about buying too much in the way of storage solutions, and that in your decluttering, chances are good that you’ll have suitable items already in your house. She was not kidding!

I commented to my husband that I wanted him to be on the lookout for some boxes that were of a certain dimension that would fit inside the drawer to my vanity so that I could organize my makeup a little. He mentioned that when I got to the kitchen that it was likely I was going to discard at least some of the bento boxes that I have. Goodness knows I have some very nice ones, but I also have far more than I need.

*Blink* Well, yes. So I was going to discard some of them. So I took a couple to use as organizer boxes inside my vanity drawer. And by golly if that wasn’t exactly what I needed!

komono-2My hair ornaments could fit in a drawer, but I admit I store them in a way that makes me totally happy and I have no intentions of changing it. Know that “sparks joy” thing? My hair sticks bring me joy. Completely. And storing them in this jar also makes me happy.

Remember the whole “sparks joy” thing? That’s important to this method. It’s not about living in a completely Spartan environment – unless that sparks joy, of course. The point of doing this is to keep what you love and to order your household the way you love.

I was thinking about this as I was comparing what sparks joy for me compared to my mother’s house.

Mom is an artist with her home. Anyone who goes to her house always admires it because it’s just so pretty. I mean, like really gorgeous in a way that most people hire serious expensive professional designers to get the look, but Mom doesn’t need that. She has a great eye and the house is Victorian/Georgian mix that sounds weird, but she really makes work. There are display cabinets full of lovely items, lace curtains, warm, low lighting, and pretty oriental rugs over hardwood floors. It’s pretty and so much expressive of her character and tastes.

That’s the point. What I’m going for is different. What I want is more like the old Samurai homes. Very, very little clutter around, and beautiful art showcased by great wodges of space. Not that I’m ripping up my carpet and putting in tatami mats or anything. I don’t want an actual traditional Japanese house so much as the minimalism as a guiding principle.

Not that this means I am giving up my hutch and china display, mind. I smile every time I look at it, even though it doesn’t have that whole Samurai house principle.