Clean Home, Fresh Start

The month of April is over and along with it the Clean Home, Fresh Start challenge. How did you do last month? Were you able to tackle some problem areas in your home?

old cds

I made some great progress in the office, basement, and kitchen. There is still a lot of work to do in my childrens’ rooms and the garage, but significant progress was made in many areas of my home.

expired food

I found that making the decision to declutter was often harder than the actual declutter.

This month I got rid of:

  • 5 Jumbo Stamp Pads that leaked so badly the ruined almost everything they touched. I held on to these for years, and then I realized it was less than $2 a pad to replace them.
  • 9 Bottles of Paint. I have moved these paint bottles six or seven times. Some of them were dried up and when I was going through them I realized they were not washable. I threw them all away.
  • 80 old computer discs. This was my most rewarding clean out of the month. My office is so clean and organized now! I love being able to find things I need.
  • 1 broken stapler.
  • Countless number of old glue sticks, broken pencils and pens, and papers in the office.
  • 2 decks of playing cards that were missing cards.
  • 2 broken rubber maid bins.
  • 1 game.
  • 4 pieces of clothing.
  • 12 jars/ bottles of expired condiments.

Last month I challenged myself to double my total for the 730/365 Challenge. At the end of March my total was 148 items for the year.

April total: 116

Total for the year 264! Only 466 items to go.

I didn’t quite double my total but I am making great progress. May will be another clean out month as we do the great winter/ summer clothes swap.

How did your spring cleaning go in April?

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Organizing Photos: Clean Home, Fresh Start

I have thousands of photos in boxes and albums in stored in closets in my home. I also have thousands of picture on discs (I just found them when I did my media clean out). And unfortunately, I have thousands of pictures stored on the hard drive of my computer.

I have photo clutter.

This is a big project so my plan is to work on my photo clutter this summer, but here are a few tips.

Developed Photos

  • Get rid of photos that are blurry.
  • Get rid of photos that are just bad pictures. Perhaps everyone’s head is not in the photo, or it is a really bad close-up.
  • Get rid of photos that were taken just to test the camera, or are of your feet, or something similar.
  • Store photos in an acid free container. I use this Scrapbook Storage Box to store most of my photos.
  • If you can afford it, remove your photos from old albums that contain PVC. PVC releases chlorine gas that attacks photographic images, causing them to fade and discolor prematurely. Most of the new photo storage devices do not contain PVC, but remember to check the label before you buy.

I bought my first digital camera eight years ago and my problem with photo storage multiplied. I love digital photos because you can take multiple pictures of the same thing without paying to have all those pictures developed. Someone told me years ago that the best way to get a good picture of kids was to take significantly more pictures than needed and then delete the bad ones. My problem? I never delete.

Digital Photos

canon xsi

  • Delete, Delete, Delete (I’m preaching to myself on this one).
  • Create some sort of organizing system on your computer; folders, files, albums, anything that organizes the photos  you already have. Many computers already come with these types of programs installed so you don’t have to buy anything extra.
  • Back up your photos! When my computer had a cup of water dropped on it the first thought that went through my mind was – MY PHOTOS! There are several options for digital photo storage below.

Digital Photo Storage

Photo Sharing Sites:

I use Flickr, Photobucket, and Kodak Gallery to store my photos. They are free for a certain amount of storage and then you pay if you need additional storage. I have used the free and the paid versions for my photos. I like these options because for a while I didn’t have any editing software on my computer and these sites have some nice tools.

Memory Card:

If you don’t take many digital photos a memory card might be sufficient to store your photos.This is relatively inexpensive option for people who only have a few photos. It is also a great way to store photos if you are traveling. The downside is that they don’t have a ton of memory, and they are small, so if you are like me you might put one through the washer.

External Hard Drive:

We started using an external drive after my son used up all the memory on our family computer storing his photos. A large hard drive costs under $100 and is a good option for those who have thousands of photos.

CD or DVD:

This would be my preferred method of storage, I just haven’t done it yet. I have a friend who stores her photos on discs and it seems like a great way to organize. The important thing is that you label your CDs/ DVDs well so that you don’t insert every single one trying to find your photos. The downside of CDs and DVDs is that you need to be able to burn them on your computer to use this storage method. Most new computers have this capability.

Develop your photos!

I know this runs contrary to my decluttering theme, but what good is it to take 1,000’s of photos and not get them developed! You can’t drag your personal computer around with you to show people your photos all the time. :) Since I started taking digital photos I have really slacked off developing my pictures. It seems silly, because before digital I would drive to Target or another developing place with my film, drop it off, and then drive back to pick them up! Developing digital photos is so easy!

You can print your digital photos at home if you have a photo printer. Depending on the cost of ink/photo paper this can be costly. You can also take advantage of the numerous digital photo sites that develop photos. You can upload them from your home computer and have them shipped directly to your home.

Whatever you preferred photo format, digital or film, photos are memories, glimpses into our past, and things that need to be taken care of and preserved. Take some time this summer and organize your photos. It is worth your time and your great grandchildren will thank you for it.

A few online developing deals.

FREE shipping on $30+ & 50 prints for new customer

Snapfish April Promotion: Free Shipping on order over $30 plus 50 Free Prints for New Customers.  Use the coupon code 30SHIP10. This promotion ends 4/30 so I’ll look for  new deal this weekend.

York Photo
York Photo: 4 cent photos plus 40 free photos when you sign up. Use the code YMW4CP at check out.

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Knick Knacks: Clean Home, Fresh Start and a Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed. The winners are; Emily, Cindy, Mercedes, Brandi, and Deborah!

Knickknack – a small trivial article usually intended for ornament.

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest.

I have noticed that once you get one type of knickknack, people think that you are a collector, then for every birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc… you receive more knickknacks to add to your collection. Before you know it, your shelves are overflowing with small or large decorative pieces. One day you will look around your home and think, “Do I really love Pez Dispensers this much?”

The problem is, sometimes the first knickknack was a gift and you didn’t necessarily love it. You end up with an entire house full of items you don’t really love, or that aren’t worth the hassle of dusting every week.

I have noticed one thing that makes a big difference in a home appearing clean is the absence of dust on shelves, furniture, pictures, and knickknacks. When I got married I had boxes full of knickknacks, a few of them I loved, but most of them I just kept because people had given them to me. It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t really want to dust these pieces on a regular basis. Over time I kept only the pieces that were truly special to me.

If you were to visit my house now, you would find very few items on my shelves and tables. I don’t like to dust so I don’t collect knickknacks. Because there are so few things to move and clean even my toddlers are able to help with the dusting. I like things simple, and for me simplifying means less visual clutter in my home.

When was the last time you went through and decluttered your shelves, tables, curio cabinets, dressers, side tables, and fireplace mantles? Go through your home and think about the things you collect. Do they bring you more joy than the stress of cleaning them? If the knickknacks are only a source of clutter and stress find them a new home.

To help you clean those shelves, Endust is giving away five coupons for a FREE Endust product. They have a new product, Endust Free Dusting and Cleaning spray, which reduces allergens on surfaces and in the air. This cleaning spray recently received the asthma & allergy friendly Certification Mark from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, making it the first fragrance-free, hypoallergenic dusting and cleaning product scientifically-proven to work.

To enter to win a coupon for a FREE Endust product leave me a comment and tell me what you collect. Giveaway ends Saturday, May 1, 2010.

Disclaimer: I do not dislike knickknacks, I dislike dusting them. I enjoy looking at other people’s collections. My mother-in-law has a collection of Santas that is one of my favorite things in her home.

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Clean out the Clothes: Clean Home, Fresh Start

Do you have clothes from your senior year of high school lurking in the back of your closet, clothes you haven’t worn in years? Bedroom closets can be a huge source of clutter. With most newer homes having master bedroom closets the size of a small country, the temptation to hang on to every single item of clothing since the 10th grade can be great.

I am guilty of hanging on to clothes that are too small because I am sure that one day I will fit into them. And sometimes I do end up fitting into them, but by that time they are hopelessly out of style!

I have found that with clothing less is more. A few basic pieces can go a long way, and you will  be less frustrated in the mornings while you are getting dressed. If items don’t fit, are not your style or color, or you just don’t like them, get rid of them! If you are a clothes hoarder have a friend come over and help you.

Having a closet full of clothes that you don’t wear makes it harder to find the clothes you do wear.

A few years ago, one of my more stylish friends came over and helped me clean out my closet. While it was painful at the time, she really helped me see what items were worth keeping and which ones needed to be tossed. The nice thing about clothes is that they can be donated or given to someone else. There are very few items that end up in the garbage can.

When was the last time you gave your closet an honest clean out? I cleaned mine at the beginning of the year and I love all the extra space!

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.