rainbow bed

When Sparking Joy Ignites a Fight

Tennis socks, circa 1989

Hello! You know what you should never do if you are an uptight rule abider with an ego? Watch KonMari youtube videos by a vlogger who hasn’t read the book and finds joy in every single piece of name-brand clothing in their stuffed closets. I watched a really annoying video by a KonMari “konvert” today that brought all my many faults to the surface. You guys, I counted on my fingers the number of times she said “literally” incorrectly and thought of this meme the entire time. I am a horrible person and tangentially the whole thing reminded reminded me of a fight I had with my mother a couple of months ago.

I bet my mother would hate Marie Kondo. I bet she’d call her a heartless person without an ounce of sentimentality. I know this because that’s what she called me in Lake Tahoe when I suggested she get rid of the 30 year old popcorn air popper her dad gave her.  I don’t have a heart; I don’t have any feelings; I don’t appreciate antiques. The last one made my eyebrows jump. As if anything from the 1980s is an antique!

“I may not have a heart,” I snapped back, “but at least I have cabinet space!”

We agreed to disagree. Rather, I conceded that how she keeps her house (organized, impeccably clean, full of stuff I think needs to go) is none of my business. It’s funny, because when I got home from Lake Tahoe I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and in it Kondo shares several stories cautionary tales of how she would organize (get rid of) her family’s possessions without telling them for their own good. She learned quickly that tossing out someone else’s possessions was a really bad idea. My first thought was “duh” and that Kondo was a bossy, insufferable child. Then I thought wait a minute…

If “sparking joy” was a human requirement, my family would have donated me shortly after puberty. Thank God my mom is so sentimental!

Clothing 2

Clothing 3

Yes, getting rid of things is generally easy for me, but not always. I err on the side of tossing something out probably because, unlike my parents, I grew up without wanting for anything. I also grew up learning money doesn’t buy what you really need, a lesson that was later reinforced as an adult. And my mom was right–I’m not a very sentimental person. But I’m glad she is, because I would have tossed out my high school tennis socks decades ago and had I done that, I wouldn’t have found them folded neatly in a drawer in Lake Tahoe. I didn’t bring enough socks; they came in handy and I wore them on the trip home. I was tempted to toss them out this week but decided to keep them because…I don’t know. They remind me of my mom, I guess, which is proof I’m at least a little sentimental! They also remind me to mind my own business and acknowledge that my way isn’t the only way to do things. They are now my talisman of anti-turd behavior.

Clothing 4


I could have finished everything, but I got bored and read books for the library instead. I’m at about 50% complete right now. I’m not a person who looks forward to organizing or cleaning, so I easily grab onto any possible distraction. I had one small snafu with the drawers, which I used as an excuse to put off the project for two days. Either Japan has the deepest drawers the world over, or I keep buying dressers with shallow drawers. I ended up laying the shirts slightly on their side and then filing them from left to right instead of front to back. Yes, moving shirts 90 degrees was a solution that took two days to develop. “Develop” means keeping all the shirts in a jumbled mess at the foot of my bed until hours before Mister was scheduled to come back from a business trip.


I now have a drawer for my scarves, which I rarely wear! But last year I received four as gifts and the 5th one in the drawer–the black one–is a handmade gift from my aunt. I’m keeping them because this year I plan to experiment with them as I move towards a minimal wardrobe.

Clothing-11 Clothing-10

My socks! I’ve always folded my socks and underwear, so the only thing different here is how I store them. I removed the special “sock organizing containers” I put in a couple of years ago. They actually made everything more of a mess. For once, my shallow drawers came in handy!

Clothing 12

Next week I’ll finish everything up in my room. I’m going to ask the Mister if he wants me to do his closet. He can go through his own clothes (I might throw away something I shouldn’t is my diplomatic excuse) and then I’ll go behind him and organize everything into little origami rectangles.


WMP: Scrape + Paint Exterior Windows

If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

–William Morris

See my “useful and beautiful” To-Do list here.

The studio in our backyard.

The exterior color of our house was one of the few things we didn’t like and vowed to immediately change once we moved in. Immediately turned into 10 years.

Ten years probably worked out for the better since it spared us from painting the house some really atrocious colors. I cringe thinking back to my “match the brick” phase. Also narrowly avoided: greige. We decided on a cream body with bright white trim. It’s classic and works well with all the greenery. That greenery is one of the reasons we didn’t paint the house green,  a popular accent color with red brick homes.

I also painted the doors Tardis blue, so I’m not entirely boring.

Froont Door-1

Front Door-1

It’s been 3 months since the Wayfair GreenThumb Challenge and the plants are doing great! My two drought tolerant plants circled the drain following a blistering heat wave shortly after planting, but they’re on the mend. I’m glad I didn’t toss them out. They looked like tumble weeds, but their stems still showed signs of life when I scraped them gently. Now I just get rid of the dead leaves and be patient.

The succulents, on the other hand, have had not one problem. I was so worried putting them in direct, west-facing light, but they love, love, love the porch. They’ve at least quadrupled in size and soon it will be time for me to start propagating. Free plants!

Before You Start, Visualize Your Destination

plants (3 of 10)

Difficult, daunting, dull–those are just some of the D-words that came to mind when I attempted to visualize my destination as instructed by Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You don’t want to know all the D-words I was muttering while putting together this post. What I really wanted to do is to jump in and start tossing. I’ve become rather adept at discarding over the last few years! I’ve had my break; I’m ready to get back into the game.

Alas, Kondo says I must identify my house goals before I toss out anything.

What do you hope to gain through tidying? Before you start getting rid of things, take the time to think this through carefully. This means visualizing the ideal lifestyle you dream of. If you skip this step, not only will it delay the whole process, but it will also put you at higher risk for rebound. Goals like “I want to live clutter-free” or ” I want to be able to put things away” are too broad. You need to think much more deeply than that. Think in terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space. (Emphasis in the original.)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, page 36.

She goes on to explain the visualization process, but for brevity’s sake I’ll sum it up: impossible, but I did the best I could. I can’t stress enough how challenging this was for me! Kondo suggests gathering pictures to facilitate the visualization process if you reside in an emotional tundra (paraphrasing), so that’s what I did. For those for whom this process was simple, lucky you! Seriously. You are in touch with your feelings and are probably Brene Brown’s best friend. I’m envious of your ability to tap into your emotional side. But may I make a suggestion? When a plague decimates the world’s population by 92% and you need someone to figure out how to make shelter out of 12 toilet paper rolls and a Bic pen, find me. I’m your girl.

Okay, no more delaying the inevitable. Here it is, heart on sleeve: The Destination

Kidding! One more delay. I cut out a tremendous amount of text from this post once the word count began reaching for the stratosphere. I realized that all the thought I put into defining each room was a post unto itself. I’m going to publish those posts as the weeks go by and will link to them here as well.

Okay, this time I’m serious. The Destination!

Entryway: A welcome point for new friends and visitors. The space will be clean and spare, making it easy to clean. Bright and natural light, a plant, and casual family pictures balance out the austerity.

Roger Davies Source: House & Home November 2008 issue
Roger Davies
Source: House & Home November 2008 issue

If you look at my original list, this space was also supposed to be where we stored incidentals from school, like shoes and backpacks. I’m reconsidering this because the end result is a space that looks like the war room of rioting middle-schoolers planning a hostile takeover. Hooks, I’ve discovered, are dangerous for adults and children who can’t manage to put away their flimsy California jackets in the closet right next to the hook. “It’s just like a hook,” I say scowling. “Only this hook is behind a closed door and is called a hanger.”

Although I once searched high and low for a rug, I’ve given up the hunt. A rug makes it difficult to open the door and adds physical labor (lifting, moving, placing) to the already soul-shattering task of mopping the floor.

    1. Rug for entryway
    2. Remove all furniture
    3. Add plant
    4. New window treatment or film for front door window.
    5. Station for school backpacks, purses, coats, etc. (This update no longer works for our family.)
    6. Hang photographs or prints in entryway

Living Room: An inviting room that exhibits an appreciation for nature, music, and art in an approachable manner. Styling and knick-knacks are at a minimum, but the room is still comfortable and relaxed.

Style by Emily Henderson
Style by Emily Henderson

My tastes has changed so much over the years. Chotskies, for example, are evil dust collectors that fall out of favor faster than I can type ‘antlers.’ Helping organize The World’s Largest Estate Sale will do that, I suppose. This room is far more styled than I prefer, but I do like the casual look and varying textures. I have a blue chesterfield, too, so that doesn’t hurt.

  1. Purge komono from room according to Kondo.
  2. Purchase jute or flat weave rug.
  3. Purchase cowhide rug.
  4. Purchase an upright piano; purchase stand for Mikey’s guitar.
  5. Style the piano.
  6. Shutters for picture windows in living room.
  7. Buy large plant for picture windows, preferably fiddle leaf fig.
  8. Remove fireplace mantel, possibly replace.
  9. Organize campaign dresser drawers. (Part 1: Respecting Money)

Dining Room: A gathering place for family and friends where one can linger in comfortable chairs to discuss the day, play games, and share meals.


This image is inaccurate. I don’t want to mimic this look, though I like it enough to make it my goal picture for several reasons, desperation and over-it-itis being the forerunners. Honorable mentions include the clean table top and the abundance of plants. I also really like this photo because it shows evidence of small humans. I think a mix of the two rooms is ideal.

  1. Purge komono from room according to Kondo.
  2. Purchase new, made to last dining room table and chairs. || Should be noted that I’m indifferent to the table and chairs that we own, but what I do like is outside our budget.
  3. Purchase dining room rug. || I’m debating removing the rug, again to make it easier to clean and mop the floors.
  4. Purchase china cabinet to match/coordinate with dining room table and chairs. || Reevaluate need for more furniture after The Purge.
  5. Sell current sideboard.
  6. Sell or donate IKEA display case. || This depends on the outcome of item 4.
  7. Sell midcentury china cabinet.
  8. Replace sliding doors with something safer.
  9. New window treatments for sliding doors/something safer.

Family Room: A cozy, embracing room where bodies sink into stuffed sofas and chairs to read books and watch movies. The lighting is plentiful, flattering, and comfort reigns over form. 


This is another case in which the picture reflects a concept more than a reality. The takeaways are the books, the varying textures, the white walls, and, of course, the plants. Incidentally, this is the same apartment as the dining room picture above. I guess I really like this apartment!

  1. Repaint family room a calm, comfortable color. || Done it, but now I’m thinking of going white. We’ve already painted two of the walls!
  2. Create a sense of warmth and family with pictures.
  3. Scrape acoustic tiles off family room. Drywall.
  4. Find a media cabinet, preferably with shelves for display or books.
  5. Replace with good quality, family friendly materials the sofa, coffee table, chair(s), window treatments, and lighting.
  6. Create a reading nook.
  7. Install floor to ceiling bookshelves along one wall.
  8. Replace carpet, preferably with hardwood and rug.

Kitchen: A point of entry into our home for family and friends and a place to create nourishing meals. It is welcoming, clean, and feels like as comforting as cookies and milk. Countertops are clean and empty.

Dan Cutrona for Old House Online.
Dan Cutrona for Old House Online.

This is the entry point for the house if you are family or friend. This means this place gets lots of foot traffic and is extremely prone to clutter. It will need a massive over hall in terms of decluttering and organizing.

  1. Declutter!
  2. Rethink systems. In a high-traffic place like this, everything must have a designating landing spot.
  3. Repaint kitchen, at least the ceiling.
  4. New floor in kitchen. (A temporary fix is okay if it can be reused somewhere else.)
  5. Caulk and paint window trim in kitchen.
  6. Create family organizer system in kitchen.
  7. Frame and hang prints, photographs.
  8. Organize medicine cabinet.
  9. Plant flowers or pots in planters flanking kitchen entrance.
  10. Repaint kitchen threshold.
  11. Replace cheap shades and inadequate window treatments.
  12. Organize and purge corner cabinet.
  13. Organize and purge dish cabinet.
  14. Organize and purge drawer under ovens.
  15. Organize and purge food processor cabinet.
  16. Organize and purge junk drawer.
  17. Organize recipes.
  18. Organize and purge freezer.
  19. Scrape and re-caulk kitchen counters.
  20. Switch to all glass containers.

Laundry Room and Guest Bathroom: Two bright and orderly rooms that function efficiently.

Studio Oink
Studio Oink

Looking for a picture of a laundry room put me in a bad mood. Likewise for the picture of the guest bathroom, which in my previous list was its own category. I combined both categories into one for this go round.

A while back laundry rooms and guest baths turned into glamor spots–a trend I fell victim for, no doubt about it! All of a sudden, laundry rooms had to be styled to the nth degree and a heaven forbid you empty your bowels in a room that doesn’t have a state of the art toilet. Looking back at all my previous inspiration pictures makes me want to hurl. They reek of privilege. Most of the items on my previous to-do list for the laundry room (see below) I accomplished but never linked to. I’ll do that eventually. What I really want is a clean bathroom and a laundry room that doesn’t have stuff piled on the machines. And, okay, a new washer and dryer set.

    1. Scrape off wallpaper in laundry room.
    2. Paint and patch walls.
    3. Repaint pantry doors in laundry room. Replace door handles.
    4. Organize broom closet.
    5. Organize and purge shelves in laundry room.
    6. New rug. Nope!
    7. New shelves.
    8. New washer and dryer.
    9. Put back original window that previous owner removed.
    10. Remodel and convert into mudroom/laundry room.
    11. Decorate yellow bathroom: paint, shelves, medicine cabinet, rug, and general zhushing.
    12. Install baseboards.
    13. New toilet and sink.

The Hallway: Clean, light-filled space with current family pictures on the wall. 


We had a rug in our hallway for a long time, but I removed it a while back so that, no surprise, mopping the floors didn’t take as much time or effort. This picture reflects my desire to update the picture on the wall, change out the frames, and mix finishes and materials. There is no room or desire for a bench with a fur-thing draped atop.

  1. Organize photo drawer. Create memory system. // part 2
  2. Replace pulls and door handles, possibly repaint.
  3. Create wrapping paper storage, do something with all the gift bags.

Master Bedroom: A respite where we go to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. A soft place to land.

Heather Meger
Heather Meger

I”m excited about this one. I know getting rid of the clothes will make a difference, even though we’ve been really good about purging clothes regularly. I know there’s still more I can let go. If the change is as dramatic as I suspect it will be, the bedroom furniture we’ve been eying will look great.

  1. Purge clothing! (Kondo)
  2. Komono! (Kondo)
  3. Clean out jewelry drawer.
  4. Clean out and organize drawers: unmentionables, . Donate clothing.
  5. Paint master bedroom a calm, relaxing color.
  6. Replace door handles and drawer pulls on built in closet.
  7. New window treatments.
  8. New blinds.
  9. Create rosary/meditation/prayer area.

Master Bathroom: Clean, bright, and from the 21st century.

unknown--help appreciated!
unknown–help appreciated!

We are so due for a bathroom remodel, and is has nothing to do with aesthetics. We have water issues, the plaster is crumbling in spots, and the sink doesn’t drain properly no matter what we do. This bathroom is clean and organized, which is good. The sink is a trough for horses and utterly gimmicky. I’m wondering if I pick pictures solely because of the plants. Those look fake, though that’s not unreasonable for a bathroom.

  1. Komono! (Kondo)
  2. Completely gut and remodel.
  3. Clean out and purge cabinet under sink.
  4. Clean out and purge medicine cabinet.
  5. Clean out and purge cabinet above toilet.

 The Boys’ Shared Bedroom: I want this room clean, happy, and without a lot of junk everywhere. Hahahahahahahahahahaahhaha! O_o


This collage of two new Ikea duvets don’t really go with the rest of the picture in this list! Oh well, the boys are their own people, and it’s more important to me that their room reflects their interests than it does a design style. My boys are in 3rd and 6th grade–they will be going off to college before we know it! Screw moodboards.

  1. Purge clothing! (Kondo)
  2. Organize and purge dresser drawers.
  3. Organize and purge nightstand.
  4. Organize and purge expedit shelf, secondary bookshelf, and toy storage.
  5. Organize closet.

 The Guest Bedroom: An uncluttered home office that also serves as a guest bedroom or reading nook.


I don’t know about this one! We have a studio in the backyard that serves as a home office for the Mister, who works from home when he isn’t traveling for business. Since it’s outside, he’s subject to the elements which, being in California, aren’t terrible. Still, in the summer it gets really hot where we live (triple digits). We’ve been talking about converting the guest bedroom into a home office but I’m imagining stacks and stacks of paper and machinery.

  1. Purge clothing! (Kondo)
  2. Komono! (Kondo)
  3. Organize and purge dresser drawers.
  4. Organize and purge nightstand.
  5. Organize closet.
  6. Organize and purge bookshelf and toy storage.
  7. Remove train table, donate or sell.
  8. Convert to guest bedroom.

The Boys’ Bathroom: The bathroom in a men’s club if the men in such a club would get over themselves and have a sense of humor.

Rita Konig
Rita Konig

Finally, an easy one! I’ve had this picture in my inspiration folders for years and year. I’d lose the magazine basket (in a bathroom? gross!) and change a few things, but the overall look I love.

  1. Komono! (Kondo)
  2. New outlet so I can play music while I get ready.
  3. Install shower rod/head combo, possibly call plumber for this since it’s not standard.
  4. Install shower curtain.
  5. Repaint ceiling.
  6. Purge and organize medicine cabinet.
  7. Replace overhead lights.
  8. Completely gut and remodel.

Office/Outside Studio: An invigorating, comfortable room that promotes creativity.

  1. Komono! (Kondo)
  2. Complete purging and organizing project started in October.
  3. General zhushing, make comfortable and inviting for the Mister—and maybe me?—to work in at night.

Garage: A place where people park their cars, not store junk.

  1. Purge and declutter, sell contents of discarded items.
  2. Maybe epoxy the floor?

Back Porch: A place to lounge and hide from the sun while enjoying its warmth.

unknown source–help appreciated!

I’m basically just trying to create another room for reading.

  1. Install ceiling fans and lighting.
  2. Purchase outdoor rug.
  3. Create inviting seating arrangement.

Front Porch: A place to sit and watch little boys ride bikes, play in leaves, and catch bugs.

I happen to like my front porch!
I happen to like my front porch!
  1. Landscape flower bed.
  2. Bench for lemonade.
  3. Pot and arrange grouping of plants.
  4. Purchase good quality, stylish door mat.
  5. General zhushing.

Backyard: A casual expanse of green with spots of color coming from modest beds of flowers. A pool would be amazing.


  1. Plant flowers around Chinese Elm.
  2. Plant flowers or plants along flower bed in the backyard.
  3. Purchase fire pit, new patio furniture.
  4. Purchase new grill.
  5. Install twinkle lights.
  6. Plant herb garden, vegetable garden, regular garden.

Front Yard: A happy, humble, tidy yard with a welcoming approach.


A lot of the homes in my neighborhood are removing their lawns and converting their front yards to drought tolerant landscapes. I really like the look, but don’t be fooled. They can be a ton of upkeep!

  1. Plant flowers in front brick area.
  2. Completely gut and landscape.

Miscellaneous: We all have those things that don’t really go anywhere but need to get done.

  1. Paint all trim in the house.
  2. Scrape and paint all exterior windows.
  3. Blow up and hang two favorite pictures of boys.
  4. Add images to family wall of pictures.
  5. Reframe painting from Helena’s parents, find permanent place for it.
  6. Paint all doors in the house.
  7. Replace all doorknobs in the house.
  8. Repaint top of board and batten.
  9. Polish and maintain brass candlesticks.
  10. Polish and maintain all silver.
  11. Replace wire and plastic hangers with wood.
  12. Return items that belong to others.
  13. Return items to various stores.
  14. Repair, reupholster vintage chairs in garage.
  15. Organize car to accommodate sport equipment.
  16. Thoughts on tidying up the house.
  17. Organize instruction manuals.


Prep Work is Boring

1-6959 copy

I found the book in a purse under our bed. I emptied out my purse some time at the end of the school year (except for the book, obviously) and left it on the bed in my rush out the door. My deflated purse slipped between the footboard and the mattress, fell to the ground, and didn’t appear again until this weekend when we moved the furniture around in the bedroom. Funny that I remember this now.

You never know how you lost an item until you’ve find it again. Only then does your memory kick in, the cruel mistress.

I can now say I’ve read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in two formats and paid for both. Not to brag, or anything.

On Thursday I begin the process! I’m ready and frankly annoyed that I have to redo my intentional home list per Marie Kondo’s recommendation to “visualize your destination” before embarking on a whole-house purge.

I’m not completely redoing my list. There’s still a huge list of projects to tackle–seriously, go look–but my list focuses more on what to do rather than how I want to live. I list a quick room description and then follow it with a detailed project list. Helpful, but not positive. Not always inspiring, either, and I’m a list person! For the last week I’ve been gathering inspiration pictures on pinterest, trying to figure out what I like and why. I thought that would be easy, but no. My tastes have changed over the last 3 years and figuring out what I like and how to make it work for a family is…boring.

There. I said it. Searching for pictures on pinterest for the house and doing all this prep-work is boring. I’m ready to start tossing things!

Note to my husband: No, I won’t toss out that ridiculous t-shirt. I promise.

The Return of the William Morris Project


Those of you on Instagram or Facebook know I bought The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo in February, around the same time as the rest of the world. I started it, stopped it, and lost it. That’s right, I lost it.

We’re back, safe and sound, after a couple of weeks in Lake Tahoe. It was nice (minus that one week) but we’re glad to be home. I, especially, wanted to get home and tackle this book and my house; I planned to read, review, and hopefully drink the Koolaid everyone has been going on about for almost a year.

I searched for this book the morning after we got home and have been searching for it ever since. I can’t find it, and that means it’s time to change the way I do things around here. My first item on the agenda: start doing things.

I don’t know what will happen when school starts up again; I don’t even know if I have a job. But until then, Thursdays are once again my WMP days.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

My second item on the agenda: find a new quote. I thought the quote was clever when I read it a million years ago, so much so that I parroted it to my friend when her parents died (incidentally, their death inspired the project). Since then, you can find it in every home book, magazine, and blog. Enough. Too much. Overkill. Did George Costanza teach you nothing, Internet? Get out on a high note!

I’m also going to be sharing reviews on the many, many simple living and decluttering books on the market. So many of them say the same thing, but occasionally there are some true gems. Part of the reason The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up became so popular is because of its uniqueness in the genre–or at least that’s what I suspect if the rumors of folded underwear and sparking joy are true. I’ll know more for my review and project post next Thursday, after I re-buy the book on organization and decluttering that I I lost in my house.

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