My House is Driving Me Crazy!

I’ve been praying a lot about how to get my house clutter under control lately.  It’s seriously eating at me and I get so anxious and moody and seriously depressed about the mess.  We have too many things and I can’t make decisions about where to put everything, and nothing is organized nicely. Things collect on counters and shelves because they don’t have a spot.  I get rid of things from time to time but it hasn’t started to help much yet.  Things get stuffed in cabinets, and maybe cabinets get organized but they don’t stay organized.  I clean one side of the house but while I’m doing that the other side falls into chaos.  It’s making me sick.

Anyway.  Yesterday I was talking to my aunt and somehow house clutter came up and she recommended a book to me that I mentioned in my last post. It’s a short book, but even with how short it is you can buy summaries of it on Amazon instead.  Here is my summary though. I’m mostly typing up this summary for myself but also for anyone interested in what I learned from the book.  It is not really an organizing book, as far as telling you how to organize every individual closet and cupboard, but it has helped me realize why my house is always chaotic and it had some good tips for deciding what things to get rid of, and the author points out that THAT is the key to getting organized — get rid of your clutter that sits around collecting dust and giving you anxiety, THEN you can have the motivation to move forward and get your house in order. It’s not a minimalist book but I think it’s great if you’re wanting to get into minimalism. The book is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo.  I borrowed it for FREE through the Kindle Owner’s learning library through Amazon Prime, but if you buy it for Kindle it is only $3. I read the whole book in a couple of hours while also watching HGTV so reading this book is not going to consume your life, which would be very ironic since I am trying to hurry and get my house clean NOW instead of taking on other projects like reading a giant book about cleaning my house. I took three pages of notes and am typing them up here for you.  You’re welcome. I still recommend reading the actual book because she sort of explains her tips as she goes. Still, this summary basically covers all her main points. Here is a chapter-by-chapter summary (is this legal?):

1 – If you’re always cleaning but your house is never clean, it’s because you’re just cleaning a little bit at a time.  If you only clean a little at once, you’re likely moving clutter from one room to another. If you clean the whole house at once, everything has a place and it’s organized and you’re less likely to regress.  I totally move piles of crap from the kitchen counter to the master bedroom, which I always think is fine because it feels like a small amount of progress so this was a wake up call for me because it really isn’t effective since the piles you move around just keep getting moved and keep giving you anxiety.  I mean Nick is always telling me that all I do when I clean is stuff crap somewhere else.  But anyway.  The key is to get rid of stuff that sits around collecting dust.

2 – Storage bins are stupid.  You are just using them to hide your clutter.  Yes.  Sometimes I open up storage bins of old crap and have a panic attack.  I have a storage bin full of old CDs I will NEVER listen to but I keep them because I feel guilty throwing them away or something or I think I may end up wanting to listen to them someday. I know if I got rid of all but about four of them I wouldn’t miss them at all.  So instead of storing things, you need to DISCARD or DECIDE where to put them.  Of course I think it’s OK to store things like camping gear, breast pumps, and christmas decor, but not old books and CDs and things that just aren’t getting used (I’m looking at you too, fabric scraps).

3 – Discard ALL AT ONCE.  If you throw away one thing and then go buy eight new things … that doesn’t work.  I’m so guilty of this.  Get rid of ALL THE THINGS you don’t need and then you have taken a hundred steps forward, so then if you take eight steps back you only have to get rid of eight things to get back to perfection, right?  There are two types of cleaning you should be doing: 1) Your giant whole-house spring cleaning where you dejunk and organize all at once, and 2) daily cleaning, where you put everything away it its designated place.  You need to get rid of all your junk before you attempt to put anything away, otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere and you’re just going to get depressed and give up.  Another key thing is to VISUALIZE the end result — what do you want your house to look like when it’s all clean and organized?  That’s super helpful I think and can help you decide what to get rid of.

4 – Deciding what stays and what goes is hard, especially if you feel bad throwing out hand-me-down clothing family members have given you or when it comes to other somewhat sentimental objects.  You obviously discard what is out of date, no longer functional, or what has been unused for a year.  With clothes, for example, if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  If you’re not sure whether to keep it, wait 6 months and see if you wear it, and if you don’t, toss it.  Don’t be rash when dejunking and just throw everything away, though; focus on what you most want to KEEP.  Marie Kondo’s key thing is to hold each individual article of clothing or other item and see how it makes you feel.  If it makes you happy then keep it. This doesn’t mean keep all the things that remind you of the past or something, but think about having a collection of all the things you really love and get rid of what doesn’t belong in that collection.  Keep what makes you happy, and toss things that give you anxiety since those things kill your motivation to clean.

Sometimes you might feel wasteful for getting rid of a shirt you bought that you found you don’t like, but you should think of that shirt of having served its purpose by showing you what doesn’t work in your wardrobe, so learning that lesson wasn’t a waste and now you can give that shirt to someone who will actually use it — so by keeping something you don’t use you ARE being wasteful, by giving it away or selling it you are being useful. Yay. So live in a house full of things you love, not in a house full of old magazines and textbooks or whatever. When you have a hard time tossing something, think about why you have it in the first place, and that might help you make a decision

5- It’s important to tidy by category, not by room.  The latter gets overwhelming, but if you get all the coats in the house and put them in one pile you realize how many coats you actually have (since some were probably in the hall closet and some were in the bedroom closet) and you realize what you really need, then you obviously make “go” and “stay” piles and decide where all the coats go.

A suggested sequence for dejunking and organizing forces you to do the easier things first so that by the time you get to the harder stuff you’ve developed skills and a system for deciding whether to keep or discard things.  The sequence goes: clothing, then books, then papers, then magazines, then miscellaneous things (more on that later), then (eek!) mementos.

6 – The last chapter already! Here are a few suggestions for storing the things you decide to keep.  I think it’s great to go on Pinterest or whatever and get tips for storing and organizing things, but only AFTER you have properly dejunked your house.  That’s the key with this book.

Clothes – Fold your clothes nicely and store shirts sideways like a bookshelf in your drawers so you can see everything instead of stacking them.  I hope that makes sense.  Then she suggests hanging things up by weight and length – long heavy coats and dresses on one side, light shorter items on the other side.  She also suggests that storing off-season clothing is silly and that if you minimize enough you can just keep everything in your closet.  I like that idea because it could inspire you to avoid buying items that are super specific to their season and this gives you more room in the garage!  So instead of keeping a red pea coat for winter and Christmas, just have a nice ski jacket that maybe is still a good style and color to wear hiking in cold places in the spring or even summer.  Instead of buying lots of neon clothes for summer, stick to more grey and black, which I like to do because you can wear them all year.  There are a lot of things you can do to make your wardrobe smaller but more versatile and this chapter really got me thinking about that when she said not to store off-season clothing.

Books – when deciding what to keep, imagine having a collection of just the books that you really love.  That’s helpful! Usually I just think, um I might maybe read or re-read this someday so maybe it should be kept?  Books are hard but this tip was helpful.  I wouldn’t mind having a wall full of books for my kids to read someday but that would include mostly classics and Harry Potter and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and the Book of Mormon and the Bible but not all the silly textbooks I will never read again. It’s hard to get rid of books man. Ugh.  I still need help with that.

Miscellaneous – DVDs, CDs, lotions & potions, makeup and nail polish, jewelry, credit cards/passports, electronics, headphones, cameras, notebooks and writing utensils and stationary, medicine, cleaning supplies, pots and pans, tupperware, figurines, sewing and craft things . . . ugh.  Her main tip is not to live in the past.  You don’t need to keep all your mementos or whatever — get rid of them so you can move on to your future life.  I agree with this — take a picture and move on.  I’m glad my mom kept all the vintage Little People dollhouse furniture but Ava actually uses that stuff when we go over there so it’s useful.  If it’s not useful, get rid of it dudes. Yay for less clutter and dust collectors!  She says if a memento doesn’t “spark a jolt of joy” when you pick it up that you shouldn’t keep it.  My sister still has her baby blanket and I think she still sleeps with it, and that’s cool (if a little disgusting) so don’t get rid of those things but if it’s going to sit in a box and drive you crazy, you know what to do. I just threw out a bunch of nail polish and I can see if my sisters want several of my old necklaces, and with figurines you need to definitely get rid of whatever you don’t want to display.  If you wouldn’t buy it right now, get rid of it, usually.

K now I need a book on motivating myself to get of my comfortable couch and actually go clean my whole house . . . shoot.

Plant It

I’m kind of a toxin freak. I mean, I’m not really that bad. I don’t want to go worry myself sick over whether whatever my pillow is made of or dyed with or washed in is going to make one of my future children be born with an extra toe. I don’t have time for that.

I do try to glance at the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database before buying a new self-tanner, facial moisturizer, baby lotion, sunscreen, shampoo, etc. I try to be informed about ingredients in my cosmetics, and I try to only buy sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, everything free-stuff. So pretty much it’s just air. Maybe some water. BUT WHO KNOWS WHERE THAT WATER CAME FROM? EVERYBODY FREAK OUT.

House Plants to Purify the Air

*photos are not mine

I’m always trying to be cleaner and greener. I make my own laundry soap, for crying out loud. Unfortunately, no matter how much we watch what’s in our food and cosmetics, the very air we breathe can be toxic. One thing that can really help remove toxins from your home is plants, so I’m getting excited to adopt some cute little pieces of nature when we have our own home someday.

Chinese Money Plant // Air-Purifying Plants

Chinese Money Plant

Many types of house plants are extremely effective at removing formaldehyde, acetone, and other nasty toxins from the air — toxins found in paint, glue, insulation, perfumes, nail polish, cleaning products, cosmetics, etc. etc. etc. Get a house plant.  Think of the Swami-Swans.

Not everyone likes plants, unfortunately. Not everyone has seen the movie Fern Gully.  Plants live in the dirt, and they SMELL LIKE NATURE. I know we all really just want our homes to smell like Mango-Bubblegum-Vanilla-Coconut-Coffee-Cheesecake. I’ll let you know when I find a plant that smells like that.

Learn how to make this DIY planter at Vintage Revivals.

Plants supposedly can also relieve stress. Why not? I know there are all kinds of studies about plants and why they’re good for you. You’re welcome to go read up on that.

Many of these plants are very hard to kill, from what I’ve read.  Too much water and sunlight can harm some plants.  Also, some plants can be poisonous to pets — especially cats, I think.  Obviously you should keep plants out of reach of kids and pets.  Read up on plant care before buying a dozen little plants and watching them slowly die one by one.

Here are some of my favorite air-purifying house plants.

Snake Plant: Air-Purifying House Plants

Snake Plant

Rubber Plant

Rubber Plant

Succulents // Terrarium


Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisies, as well as several other common house plants, are great at converting carbon dioxide into oxygen in mass quantities at night, which can actually help you sleep better if you put some in your bedroom.




Aloe Vera Plant // House Plants That Purify the Air

Aloe Vera

Areca Palm

Peace Lilies

Peace Lilies can help remove mold spores, making them great to keep in bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Best House Plants For Purifying the Air: Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Fiddle Leaf Tree

Golden Pothos

philodentron –

Spider Plant



Yes, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus (thank you, Maui; I love you).


Follow Ava on Instagram: @jessjesswalters.

Back to Fall!

There are a few things I’m pretty excited about lately.  Although I’m kind of being a Scrooge about Facebook’s daily Thanksgiving status updates, I like me a good Top Ten list of awesomeness.

1. Embroidered Sweaters For Kids

I snagged this owl sweater for Ava for next to nothing at the thrifty, but you can find similar ones at Old Navy right now.

This reminds me of my favorite-ever movie, Home Alone. Kevin whined about how last year for Christmas his grandma sent him a sweater with a bird knitted on it.  Not cool for a guy in the second grade, but little girls can pull them off.  Also, Kevin, I think dinosaur pajamas are awesome — at least for toddler boys.  They won’t get beat up.

My sis-in-law just bought these.  I’m obsessed with dinosaur pajamas.  Sorry, Kevin.

2. Fall Toddler Clothes in General

I actually said, “Omisgosh that is ADORBS,” out loud when I saw this toddler girl coat at Old Navy.  I’ve always loved olive-colored everything.  This gem is on sale for $20.

3. Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

I don’t have to explain this one. Let the Christmas-before-Thanksgiving goodness commence.

4. Disc Earrings

I found some hand-painted disc earrings at a little farmers’ market a couple weeks ago, and I am now obsessed.  I love the cute geeky look of large, round, color-pop earrings.  I bought a pair with green chevron stripes, and I really like these:

5. Chevron Jewelry

I know this is by no means a new trend, but I am still in awe at the beauty of this year’s angular metal jewelry.  I can’t stop pinning triangle necklaces!  There is no recovery group for it! Help.  I love how this style feels so earthy and grown-up, yet not too glitzy.  That sounded really weird.

6. Weslie Christensen

This mama writes a fab blog, which has grown largely in popularity since Jef Holm went on The Bachelor (Weslie’s husband Bronson is the Designer for People Water).  I always look forward to her Instagram updates (@weslie_).  She is one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen, but what I adore about her is how much she is a testament to how important one’s inner beauty — mentality, spirituality, and physical health — is to overall beauty and happiness.  Read her blog.

7. Black and Gold

Black clothes. Gold earrings.  The end.

8. Small Fry Blog

The extremely talented girls at Small Fry (a “children’s lifestyle blog”) are doing some great stuff.  I love their design and photography.

9.  Lying on the floor watching movies on a snowy day.

10. Cafe Rio Pork Salad and pellet ice in styrofoam cups.

Happy Friday.