Tag Archives: organization

Where to go when you have too many shoes (yes, it can happen)

There are two reasons I’ll never appear on the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid.

One, the bugs. How people before the modern era lived without bug spray, I don’t know. [They didn’t. They died of malaria. Forget malaria, the itching would drive me mad!]

Two, walking barefoot everywhere. Who cares about being naked? It’s the shoeless thing that would do me in. I like going barefoot through the carpeting in my living room, not over rocky terrain or alligator infested waters.

[There are other reasons I’d never make it on Naked and Afraid, not the least of which are the inability to make fire, hunt or go without food more than six hours, but we’re going to talk about shoes, so we’re focusing on naked feet for the purposes of this blog post.]

I admire barefoot runners, but I will never be one. My Achilles heel are my feet (that sentence is a disaster for so many reasons, but you get my point, right? My feet are made of clay? My soft underbelly is my arches? How to best say this?).

I have insertional Achilles tendonitis, intermittent plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma (or, at least, I have self diagnosed myself with these maladies) and in order to cope, I spend a lot of money on expensive running shoes on the theory they make running less painful.

[One could argue that running is causing these symptoms so rather than buying more shoes, I should simply spend less time running, but that makes too much sense. We runners pursue irrational ends.]

running shoesIn any case, I collect a lot of used pairs of running shoes, and this was no more apparent than last week when I was forced to empty the back entryway in order to remodel it. I found no fewer than eight pair of running shoes, all of which belonged to me.

See the thing with running shoes is that they wear out Most runners put no more than 500 miles in a pair of shoes. Until recently (when I’ve cut back on running — cut back, not eliminated — because of the aforementioned aches and pains), that meant at least two pair of running shoes a year for me.

Given how much they cost in the first place, I couldn’t bear to just dump my surplus shoes in the trash.

So I looked for a way to recycle them, and I found the MORE Foundation Group — Modular Organic Regenerative Environments.

MORE collects gently used athletic shoes, sells them and then uses the proceeds to plant thousands of trees around the world (it’s a little more involved than that, but you can check out their website if you’re interested in grand vision; we stick to personal transactional details here). Trees, as any kid knows, offset the carbon in the atmosphere, and it’s hard to hope for more than that with shoes that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

All of this explanation and whining is to say, if you, too, have used athletic shoes cluttering up your entryway, click here to find the nearest donation site.

Spring cleaning on steroids

Question: How did you spend this fine Sunday?

A. I drank too much sake with my sushi last night so I slept in and spent the day dozing on the couch while binge-watching Chopped.

B. I read the Sunday paper cover to cover and spent the afternoon working on the crossword puzzle while half-listening to the baseball game.

C. I went to church and spent the afternoon shopping for potted plants to hang in my porch. When I got home, I discovered a May Day basket hanging from my front door knob.

D. I moved every last winter coat, used tennis shoe, spaghetti noodle, kibble of dog food and bottle of laundry detergent out of the pantry, swept the room three times, scrubbed the nooks and crannies of the shelving and got on my hands and knees to clean the baseboards in preparation for an epic paint job.

Most common answer is A (because nothing says Saturday night like drinking too much). Lovely ways to spend the first day of May? B or C. But if you answered D, you’re on the same wavelength as me.

We’ve lived in this house nearly nine years, and it’s finally time to makeover the pantry.

The room comprises 128 square feet, and it’s also home to the back entryway and the laundry room. The multipurposefulness of the room contributes to a schizophrenic decorating vibe. A cute “welcome” message hanging over the door complements the cluttered food containers bursting out of their shelving. A duplicate of nearly every kitchen appliance (slow cooker, blender, hand mixer, coffee grinder — we might need them someday, after all) fights for space with tin foil, refrigerator water filters and cleaning supplies. A functional laundry center sits next to closet filled with sandals and boots, coats and jackets for every season.

One cannot fully fathom one’s tendency towards hoarding until one consolidates the contents of one’s pantry and realizes she has more than two dozen light bulbs, over 20 pounds of pasta in every shape and at least eight pair of running shoes. Nine jumbo rolls of paper towels? Check. Seven kinds and flavors of nuts? Check. Five different kinds of pancake mix (regular, buttermilk, heart-smart and two brands of gluten-free) and five types of oatmeal (old fashioned, minute, Irish, steel cut and single-serving packets)? Check and check.

Once my Beloved and I removed everything (including the washer, dryer, shelving and quarterround), the formerly crowded room looks cavernous and echoes like an empty warehouse. I replaced the 60 watt bulbs in the light fixture with 100 watt bulbs, and now every scuff, flaw and stain on the walls stands out like neon advertising reminding us why we undertook this project, which will include painting the ceiling and closet in addition to the walls and installing new flooring to replace the, ugh, linoleum.

As with every room makeover undertaken at Minnesota Transplant’s house, a paint job blossoms into so much more. We’ve already invested in baskets to spruce up the pantry shelving and we’re thinking about installing cabinets above the washer-dryer. Dad is working on a new shelf with coat hooks, and I’m going to paint the foot locker. Oh, and new rugs. Of course. Who, I ask you, puts old rugs on new flooring?

I’m exhausted as I recount this, but oddly invigorated. Nothing inspires like clearing away years of dryer lint and filling one’s trunk with items for Goodwill. Even as I slouch at my computer, I feel so much cleaner and lighter.

A perfect project for celebrating the first of May. Hope however you spent it was equally as satisfying.

Spring cleaning … about four months late


Among the tasks on my to-do list last week was “file absolutely everything in my office.”

I’m admitting this deficiency, not because I am proud of my ability to procrastinate basic maintenance activities (yes, that is literally a foot of papers on the right side of my credenza), but because I know other people have piles of s*** on their desks, too, and I want to be a vision of hope for these a-messy-desk-is-a-sign-of-an-active-and-intelligent-mind apologists.

I actually spent an entire day last week filing “absolutely everything” in my office. This required not only hours, but several dozen manilla folders, endless inches of labeling tape and, in the end, a hefty bag filled with the chaff of six months of receipts, mail and pages torn from magazines (possibly more than six months; could have been eight months; or nine).

But I did it. And here’s how the top of the credenza in my office looks now:


Here’s to a brand new week without fifty pounds of baggage. I swear, this week I will tackle the cabinet in the bathroom filled with dried-up moisturizer and nearly empty bottles of conditioner.

Hung up on hangers

It’s the little things.

In conversation with a professional organizer I know, she mentioned she uses Costco Non-Slip Hangers whenever she organizes a closet. She argued with conviction that a closet wasn’t organized until all the hangers are the same. Well, I thought, a professional organizer ought to know good hangers when she sees them, right? So I invested in a box, and changed out some of the old hangers in my closet.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Costco’s Non-Slip Hangers are amazeballs! They’re strong, thin and covered in a black felt-like substance that truly is non-slip. And they’re only $9.99 for a box of 35! After I used up the first box, I went back to Costco and got three more boxes, which is still less than I’d pay for a nice pair of pants.

You’ve got to see these for yourself.

Closet Before 2

Clothes closet before.

Clothes Closet After

Clothes Closet After

I am now addicted to my closet. Every time I’m upstairs for any reason, I walk into my closet, flip on the light and bask in the order of it.


(By the way, I recycled my old wire hangers at the dry cleaners. Check with your local cleaner to see if they accept hangers — giving those hangers a new life is better than filling a landfill!)

God in the closet

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free spirit.

~ Psalm 51:10-12

Any good church-going Missouri Synod Lutheran recognizes those verses as the offertory in the Sunday liturgy.

Beyond being a preface for passing the envelope plate, they also are among the top returns in a Google search for “prayer of renewal.”

A quick look in my study Bible describes Psalm 51 as “a lament, the most famous of the seven Penitential Psalms, [a prayer] for the removal of the personal and social disorders that sin has brought.”

I think it came to mind today because I was cleaning my clothes closet, an indication of my own disorder. The closet is not yet good enough to show off in a stellar After picture, as is my wont, but it’s better. The overflowing closet itself is a symbol of abundance and the blessings I’ve been bestowed; the process of organizing it, a symbol of renewal.

My study Bible goes on to say of Psalm 51, “[Verses 11-19] seek something more profound than wiping the slate clean; nearness to God, living by the spirit of God.”

It’s rather nice to think of a common household task like cleaning one’s closets as bringing one closer to God.

Blast from the past: Cheesy was once a treasure

As part of the Grand Home Office Remodeling project, I’ve been sorting through my files.

Yes, my paper files. I’m a dinosaur like that.

Among the treasures I unearthed while sorting each piece of paper in every manila file were these two brochures stashed in a folder carefully labeled “Fashion & Beauty”:

Boy, did they take me back. Oh, Multiples and Hairdini-helped French Twists were the height of fashion and beauty in the 1980s! The only things missing are Bonne Belle Lip Smackers and Maybelline Great Lash Mascara.

Dressing in theme for a Halloween party of spirit week? You can’t go wrong with shapeless jersey knit and tube belts. But wait! There’s more! I bought my Hairdini Magic Styling Wand from an infomercial, and it really worked! I had the best up-dos around.

I wish I still had some of those Multiples, but timeless, they weren’t. Why I still have the brochure with tips on pairing pieces, I don’t know. Ditto for the Hairdini instructions because the Hairdini itself is long gone.

Well, yes, I do know why I hang on to useless stuff long past its expiration. I’m a sucker with a hoarding problem who doesn’t understand the fallacy of sunk costs.

But I’m forging into the future resolving to do better.

Following the publication of this blog post, these brochures have officially completed their useful life, including this pointless foray of wistful nostalgia. I’m throwing them away.

I know a man who doesn’t pay to have his trash taken out. How does he get rid of his trash? He gift wraps it, and put it into an unlocked car.

~ Henny Youngman

Go buggy for this buggy

Since I’ve never had a baby (and I never will, especially in light of the hot flashes I’ve been enduring lately), the most useful thing about “baby carriage” is that is rhymes with “marriage,” as in “First comes love, first comes marriage, then comes Schoolyard Victim in a baby carriage.”

Which is why this lovely baby buggy, circa 1917, is being auctioned on eBay.

Baby Buggy 1

It’s a real antique, meaning it carried a real baby around some Illinois neighborhood just a few years after the Titanic went down — that’s nearly a century ago.

My mother-in-law once used it in a window display at a shoe store back when people bought children’s shoes at downtown retail locations where employees actually measured their feet. It was being stored at our house and, um, its time is up (we’re planning to do more room painting if you must know). It’s in excellent condition considering its age (I can only hope my rubber wheels hold up so well).

Interested in a shabby chic accent piece to store your guest pillows? Check it out here. You just might have to have it.

Dividends of decluttering

The upside to clearing clutter is finding long-lost valuables. Sometimes one just finds valuable space, but today I found a valuable little treat.

For months, maybe a year, maybe more than a year, I haven’t been able to adjust the volume on my iPod Shuffle. For those of unfamiliar with this now ancient bit of technology, the iPod Shuffle is so small its volume control is part of the headphones. My headphones are well used (and probably got wet at some point). The volume is, well, good for my fragile hearing but not so good for rockin’ — my iTunes are audible but not over the rumble of a passing semi truck.

I spent the entire day today moving books, files and furniture out of my upstairs office. I’ve been working in that room for six years (that’s two home-based jobs, one book and whatever one calls what I’m doing now, either working or screwing around depending on one’s perspective). I threw out a lot of old catalogs and meeting notes (I found an illuminating list from six years ago — maybe I’ll share that tomorrow).

I haven’t sorted the drawers of my desk since I moved in. In the very back of one drawer, behind DVDs demonstrating home parties for now-defunct direct selling companies, two unimpressive digital cameras and three rolls of film, I found a set of Apple earbuds — with volume control! I don’t know why I had this backup — maybe two sets came with the Shuffle or maybe a set came with my iPhone — but I was elated! It was almost as good as getting paid to declutter!

Now I can listen to Helen Reddy, Queen and CeeLo Green at a volume they intended.

Pantry makeover beats reality TV

I don’t know what it is about my personality type that I adore before-and-after pictures so much, but I must not be the only one because room/closet/hair/body makeover photos can be found everywhere.

I found myself staying up late last night waiting for the after images of the conjoined twins on the latest episode of Oprah’s “Where Are They Now,” and I don’t know why I was so entranced. I’m not a conjoined twin. I don’t have a conjoined twin. I don’t even know a conjoined twin. Why did I feel compelled to see these strangers made famous by Oprah?

I don’t know. I guess I’m a sicko.

Apparently, TLC is making lots of money off this rubbernecking fascination. When I was checking on OWN’s TV offerings tonight, I happen to notice tonight’s TLC lineup includes “900 Pound Man: The Race Against Time,” “The Man with the 132-lb Scrotum” and “40 Year Old Child: A New Case.”


Instead of indulging in TLC’s car accidents, I worked on one of my own today: My pantry.

Pantry: Before

Pantry: Before

It was such a disaster area that when I resorted to “storing” my latest Costco staples on the floor, I knew I had to do something. What’s worse is that this pantry is in an often-used entryway to our home, so it was an eyesore to guests, too. How embarrassing (not as awkward as a 132-pound scrotum, I’m guessing, but still, it’s unseemly).

I removed absolutely everything, washed the floor (yes! the woman who doesn’t mop floors! swept and mopped! I know!), dumped most packages less than half full (I did keep a half-dozen well-wrapped Thin Mints, however) and replaced everything by theme: Cleaning supplies, paper products, breakfast foods, crackers, pasta, chips, sweets, coffee, dog food, etc.

Pantry: After

Pantry: After

I discovered I have enough aluminum foil, quart-size storage bags and paper plates to last a lifetime, but at least they’re all in one place now. I need to get a few organizing devices, but I made vast improvements without spending a cent (and no surgery either!). I’m left with a pile of paper bags, which I think I’ll just toss, and a bunch of kitchen linens for which I need to find a home.

Perhaps my before-and-after photos here will satisfy your rubbernecking inclinations and you can ignore TLC tonight in favor of something more redeeming. Like Oprah’s highly anticipated interview with Lindsay Lohan.


A runner’s closet

The best home organization techniques are created to streamline everyday activities.

So while folding and stacking a pile of T-shirts, for example, is organization and feels like renewal, it’s only truly useful if one can keep the pile of T-shirts folded and organized.

I’m excited that the organization I implemented today might make my morning routine easier.

While my mother-in-law was instructing my stepdaughter on the nuances of making cabbage rolls this afternoon (I refused to carry on the tradition, but my stepdaughter was up to the task), I cleaned the upstairs bathroom and organized my bedroom closet.

organized running gear

These metal baskets from Clever Container have been put into service holding my workout gear:

  • Basket 1: Athletic bras and sweat socks.
  • Basket 2: Baseball hats, including my running hats.
  • Basket 3: T-shirts, rolled.
  • Basket 4: Running shorts, rolled.
  • Basket 5: Long-sleeve Ts, yoga pants and sweat pants.

The baskets are the perfect size to fit on my closet shelves, and you’ll note I can label them if desired.

Previously, I wandered from bedroom dresser to closet looking for wearable gear. If my Beloved was still sleeping, I was forced to use a flashlight or turn on the light (eek!) to find appropriate underthings and socks.

Now, however, with all my exercise gear in one place, I can assemble an inspiring outfit in my lighted closet. I’m counting on the fact that rolling my clothes instead of folding them will keep them organized when I’m washing and sorting.

I created this system based on a tip from a recent issue of Runner’s World magazine which encouraged storing all one’s running gear in one place. I don’t store any of my shoes in my bedroom closet — they are all stored in the entryway closet since I don’t wear shoes in the house. But someone else might create another bin to store shoes, headbands, mp3 players and headlamps.