Saturday, September 27, 2014

Throw Out 100 Things Challenge

I'm in the mood for some spring cleaning. OK, so it's not spring. And I want to do more than clean, I want to declutter, too. So let me rephrase that: I'm in the mood to for fall decluttering.

Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Well whatever you call it, I'm motivated to do it.

Recently I read this post by Jess Lively, a very wonderful designer/life coach/entrepreneur with whom I went to college. We worked/lived in the same residence hall and she was all about pairing down and simplifying, even back then. Love it. So when I saw her "Throw Out 100 Things Challenge" on her blog, I was so excited to do this in my own home, which has a tendency to be overloaded with stuff.

So here's my 100 things. I tried to recycle, donate, or sell everything I could to avoid waste.

To get going, I basically just started with a few items that I knew I wanted to get rid of and then figured out what I should do with them and grouped them with other items. That helped me think of other things to get rid of. For example, I had half a pack of puppy pee pads that Ripley no longer needed, so I figured I could donate them to the rescue center where we adopted him. So then I looked at the list on their website of items they needed. That made me realize I had some old towels and sheets they could use in the dog's crates. So just like that, my first group of items was out the door.

Donated to Helping Hounds Dog Rescue:
1. Old towel
2. Old sheet set and pillowcases
3. Half a pack of puppy "peed pads"
3-1/2. Dish soap & paper towels (these I bought specifically to donate)
That felt great to actually get the items out of the house right away and gave me motivation to keep going.

4. More than 50 tear sheets from old magazines (I took pictures of the pages I liked and uploaded them to Pinterest)
5. Six old magazines

Next up, I turned my attention to my feet. I've been wearing a pair of leopard print flats every day for a long time and now my toe was starting to poke through. Probably time to get rid of them. Not to mention the shoes that the cats recently decided to use as a substitute for their litter box. I had washed the shoes as best I could, but the smell just didn't come out. :-( Darn cats.

6. Four pairs of shoes
7. Broken thermometer (which has been sitting next to the smelly shoes for weeks)

While I was at it, I checked out my closet situation and realized I had some really cute shoes that I never wear because they hurt my feet or don't fit properly. So not smelly and not worn out. These could be used by someone else.

Donate to Salvation Army:
8. Four pairs of shoes

That's how this process went. I'll spare you the details of every decision I made. I just wanted to give you an idea of how I got started and kept up the momentum, just in case any of you want to join the challenge but don't know where to start. One thing really leads to another and another, which is really great.

Anyway, here's the rest of my list:

9. Broken compact mirror
10. Five expired items from the medicine cabinet
11. Five old prescription bottles
12. Wallet
13. Two plastic silverware packs
14. Knit coaster
15. Broken green mini blinds
16. Two empty bottles of sunscreen
17. Two store bags
18. Expired travel products
19. Package of dried-out wet wipes
20. Old makeup products
21. Ripped thermal shirt
22. Rusty shower caddy
23. Checkbooks from an old account
24. Old DVD
25. Stick-on carpet squares from the staircase
26. High school jazz shoes
27. Sims 2 computer game box
28. Christmas receipts
29. Low-quality DVD copies
30. Furnace filter the cats peed on
31. Three burnt-out light bulbs
32. Eight cardboard boxes
33. Lots of bubble wrap and packaging materials
34. Two Color Me Rad colored t-shirts
35. Four 5k registration tags
36. Destroyed feather cat toy

37. Another two magazines
38. Contents of a wedding tote bag (wedding brochures, receipts, magazines, etc).
39. Gift bag
40. Stack of papers/documentation from a former job
41. Three user manuals
42. ANOTHER eight magazines (I think I have a magazine-hoarding problem - I just keep finding them stashed throughout the house)
43. Twelve binders full of college coursework
44. Six notebooks from college and high school

Donate to Salvation Army
45. Wallet
46. Eight shirts
47. Four pairs of shorts
48. Dress
49. Wedding Countdown book
50. Old mugs
51. 28 old cabinet handles
52. Coin purse
53. Two votive candle holders
54. Promotional T-shirt
55. Two VHS tapes (Jurassic Park & Independence Day - both classics)
56. Assorted mismatched wine glasses
57. Jalapeno-shaped dip plate
58. Promotional coffee mugs
59. Collapsible cooler
60. Butter dish
61. Tiny skillet
62. Plastic drink cups
63. Beer koozie
64. Glass jar top
65. Cat condo
66. 2 lap pads
67. Messenger bag
68. Sweatpants
69. Thermal shirt
70. Winter hat
71. Hand towels
72. Dish drying rack
73. Personal CD player
74. Three pairs of headphones
75. Bike lock
76. Graduation cap
77. Velvet jewelry box
78. Makeup case
79. Wristwatch
80. Three old French books
81. Two college text books

Give to Friends
83. Four magazines

84. Three DVDs to my parents
85. Cookie tin (parents)
86. Several borrowed books

Tossing a few last things...
87. Old favors from our wedding
88. Silk stems without the flowers

OK OK, I realize this list doesn't actually go up to 100, but I grouped a lot of the items together, so I'm actually way over 100. I was still trying to get to 100 on the list, but after waiting around almost a month without updating this, I decided it was time to just get the post up and feel good about what I've done. Maybe I'll do another post in January after the holidays. Because honestly, it does feel really good to get rid of some excess junk. And it's nice to have empty drawers and extra space in my cabinets again. And the idea of moving our stuff seems a little tiny bit less terrifying, so that's good too.

So it may have taken over a month to complete, but I'm so happy that I kept at it. I really do feel like my house is a much happier place now. Isn't it funny how that can happen, just by decluttering and finding a better home for some nice items that you no longer have use for?
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Thursday, September 25, 2014


That's right. Favorite. Halloween is my favorite time of year. I freaking love decorating our house for Halloween and watching scary movies and going to haunted houses. Love it. And the fact that it happens in fall, when we get to go apple picking and ride on hayrides and see the leaves change colors ... I mean come on. What's not to love?

This year, Chris and I are going big and having a huge Halloween party, so I've been trying to get an early start on decorating. Here's a few in-progress pictures. If you've got any more ideas, feel free to leave a comment. I love suggestions!

In the picture below, I just bought big sheets of black paper and drew the bats by freehand and then cut them out. I just looked at the silhouettes in the picture to get an idea of the shapes. It took a couple hours to do them all and get them taped up there, but seeing as it cost all of $2 for the materials, I'd say I got plenty of bang for my buck. The clown painting is from Salvation Army. I just added fake blood directly onto the glass and painted the frame and mat to give it a creepy look. The big picture in the middle is a new find that Chris and I purchased when we were apple picking at Beak and Skiff.
Most of this little vigil is from last year. I bought a regular mirror with a cool shape from Salvation Army, then spray painted the frame with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint. I didn't tape it off or anything, so it gave the mirror an antique-y look while still being reflective.

The plates, again, Salvation Army. I drew the images on with a Sharpie marker, just looking at other images for a general idea. Then I put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to harden the marker so it wouldn't rub off.

The candles, just drip red wax on white candles. Super easy and creepy looking.
This project took a little more creativity. I'm making trophies to give out for our Halloween party costume contest. I bought plastic skeletons at Dollar Tree, and wood plaques at Michaels. Then I broke them apart and hot glued them into positions I liked, starting from the feet up. 
Below, we've got the beginnings of the Funniest and Scariest Costume trophies.
And my personal favorite, Best Couples Costume. In the picture below, you can still see the hot glue strings all over the place. So obviously, I've cleared them off. But I still need to spray paint them and add some sort of label and maybe a cute prop or two. So I'll keep you posted.
Another skeleton project - I'm obsessed with these $1 skeleys - was for my front door wreath.
I got the basic wreath for $3 at Target. Then I broke apart my skeleton and hot glued him into position. He's a very welcoming little thing, isn't he? After I got him in place, I took a $1 bouquet of silk flowers from Dollar Tree and cut it up. Then I hot glued the purple flowers, purple spider, and black twigs and leaves (all from a single bouquet) onto the wreath as well.

I mean seriously, that's pretty darn cute for a wreath that cost me $5 total, right? Although I do wish I had a tiny top hat for him...
Next up, I turned my orchid into something a little more frightening. The flowers had fallen off the plant a while ago, so it was just leaves and a long stem. That part is all real and alive. 
Then I took the last flower from that same $1 bouquet from Dollar Tree and put a little surprise inside. Just some plastic vampire teeth that I once again hot glued in place. But before I stuck them in there, I dripped a red wax candle along the edges to make it look like gums. Then I glued it all in place. 

The only thing I would warn about here is that you have to be careful not to get the hot glue near the wax because, well, wax melts. I actually went back over the teeth with the wax once they were glued in place to touch up a couple spots.
Another skeleton. Did I mention I love these guys? They cost $1 and they glow in the dark. What's not to love? I made him a prisoner inside a birdcage that was used as a centerpiece at our wedding reception. He's hanging out in our kitchen, by the entryway. 
I've also been trying to Halloween-up my staircase. Lots of creepy garland and spooky pictures to replace our usual pictures on the frame wall. The mice silhouettes came in a pack of 12 for $1 from Dollar Tree. Unfortunately, Ripley keeps pulling them off and rippling them apart. Guess he's not a fan of mice.
And now, to reassure you all that I'm not totally obsessed with darkness and death or getting too out of hand with this Halloween stuff, I give you ...

Puppies and rainbows!
Pooch with a mouse cowboy riding him. Maybe this is why he keeps killing the staircase mice...
Puppies and kitties are also my favorite. And crazy hug rainbows are nice too.

Anyone else getting the jump on Halloween decorations? Got any tips or ideas to share?