Sitting on top of the refrigerator, the paper towels are almost out of my reach. We need to find another place to put them that doesn't eat up precious counter space.
Last week, like many of you, I decided to join in and give my own space the Cure. Here's how things went at my home.
Note - Reader anotherjen had asked in a related post for ideas on executing Cure assignments when you don't live alone. So, to that end, I will also be sharing how my fiancé and I worked together to accomplish each assignment (there's definitely been a bit of negotiation involved)!
Assignment 1: Make a list of projects
When I proposed the idea of the Cure to my fiancé, Shawn, he was very enthusiastic in his support. As a professor, he's currently on a winter break, and as such had already started making a mental list of all of the projects he'd like to accomplish before going back to school. Making this project list provided us the opportunity to not only commit those ideas to paper, but to look at every room in detail, and to collectively generate a list that resonated with both of us. Naturally, we came up with quite an extensive list to start. However, for the purpose of the assignment, we limited each area to the 3-5 projects. (We live in a relatively small one bedroom apartment, so some areas were combined for the purpose of the list.)
1. Declutter the coat closet
2. Repair scratches in dining table
3. Declutter the bookshelf
1. Deep clean cabinet doors
2. Declutter area around microwave
3. Replace old pot holders
4. Find a new home for the paper towels
1. Declutter magazine rack
2. Reorganize my desk
3. Clean out my files
4. Rearrange Shawn's clothes closet (As I mentioned, we live in a small apartment. Therefore, the living room closet is actually Shawn's clothes closet.)
5. Rearrange stacks of books (condense? combine?)
1. Declutter baskets on shelves
2. Clean or replace shower curtain liner
3. Wash shower curtain
4. Declutter area under sink
1. Reorganize Shawn's armoire
2. Evaluate and declutter Shawn's magazines
3. Declutter area below my bench
4. Declutter the bottom of my clothes closet
5. Find handbag storage solution
1. Move small marble-topped table to basement
2. Relocate shelving unit
Basement (By far, our biggest problem area, and one that's been severely impacted by my time in graduate school.)
1. Evaluate all school work (papers, projects, boards, etc.). Determine what to keep, what to toss.
2. Organize all school work being kept
3. Declutter and put away everything else
4. Create donate and trash piles
5. Act on donate and trash piles
Working together: To create our initial list, Shawn and I reviewed each room together and wrote down anything that stood out to either of us. Then, when it came time to narrow down the list, we each verbally ranked our top five for each room. From there, we negotiated until we had a top 3-5 that we both agreed upon. This step was important, as each of us has different "triggers" or responses to various trouble areas in our home. Collaborating on the list ensured that we would be addressing the areas that mattered the most to each of us.
Assignment 2: Set up an outbox and place one item in it
Let me start by saying, I love the principle behind this assignment. I know many people that hold onto to way too much stuff due to emotional attachment. I used to have a much bigger problem with this myself. My fiancé, on the other hand, is quite a minimalist and rarely hangs onto much of anything.
Working together: As you might imagine, this assignment led to quite a conversation between Shawn and me. For starters, we live in a small apartment. There is no out-of-the-way place to set up an outbox, and certainly no area that we can allow to be messy on an ongoing basis. Yet, in talking it through, we determined two things. One, this idea would probably be more helpful for me than it would be for him. And two, although we don't use an actual box or container, we sort of halfway employ this principle in our space already, whenever we set something by the door to the basement. Placing items there signifies that they need to go into the basement, either for handy storage, or for holding until we determine what we'd like to do with them.
Essentially, our basement is one big outbox. (Not ideal, I grant you, and part of the reason that our basement is our biggest problem area.) Therefore, I've decided to set aside an actual outbox in the basement that can be reviewed weekly, as suggested. Going forward, anything that is set by the basement door will be designated as "handy storage" or "outbox" and immediately filed accordingly. (Hopefully, this will help ensure that once our basement is decluttered, it will actually stay that way!) Item#1 in the new outbox - lampshade from broken lamp.
Assignment 3: Buy flowers, vacuum, mop, gather earth friendly cleaners & use your outbox
I used to buy flowers all of the time. Then, I got busy, got a kitten (who loved to play with the flowers), and weekly flowers became less of a priority. That said, I was excited by the idea of kickstarting my flower habit again. There's just one small problem. January is an extremely lean month for us financially. You see, most of my work is freelance and there's not a lot of it in December...hence, not much in the way of pay coming in in January.
Working together - Shawn and I loved all of the ideas put forth in this assignment, but after discussing it, decided that we couldn't spend any money this week to accomplish them. So, I got creative. I already had some calla lilies in a vase that had been saved from larger arrangement I received mid-December. (It's insane how long they've lasted!) So, I gave them a fresh cut, and straightened the arrangement a bit. Then, I pulled some fresh herbs out of the refrigerator, put them in glasses of water and made a few more simple arrangements.
As for the cleaners, thankfully we were already in decent shape. We use Method dish soap (I recently bought the Basil scent, and LOVE it), Seventh Generation laundry detergent and Method floor cleaner (Almond, so yummy). We do, however, need an earth friendly bathroom cleaner. Given our financial situation though, we simply decided to buy a greener cleaner the next time we run out.
Cleaning the floors ended up being our greatest challenge. Although we were both very enthusiastic about the idea, it quite frankly didn't happen. The biggest reason is because we still have our Christmas tree up. Late decorators, we bought it on December 21, and wanted to hang onto it a little while. Also, we can only dispose of trees on Thursdays, and last Thursday felt too early, (although, in all honesty, this Thursday feels too late). Either way, vacuuming and mopping before we removed the tree seemed a little pointless, so we've decided to wait on this step.
How did you do with your week? What challenges did you face?
(Images: Bethany Seawright)