November 18, 2012

Decluttering Under the Stairs Storage

In my mother's house is a strange, but rather large cabinet under the stairs. For years it has been neglected and random items like Halloween decorations, Christmas wrapping paper and art projects have been relegated to this dark hole. It's also been the place where my husband likes to store his various beers. There was never any shelving built in the space, so over time it has become cluttered and items are just piled on top of each other. With the holidays coming up, I thought last weekend would be a good time to clean out and organize the cabinet. That meant putting on knee pads and climbing into the dark, cobwebby space. Fun.

I purchased a few plastic shelving packages from Home Depot and began to clean and toss out what was not being used. You can see below what the space used to look like. Don't ask what was going to be done with that huge gourd in the corner.

Below you can see what the space looked like after I tackled it. Since I got rid of so much junk and old boxes, I did not have to utilize the space in the very back of the cabinet. In addition, it only took me about one hour to clean out the space and reorganize it. My cabinet under the stairs project is a good example of what can be accomplished in an afternoon with only about $60 worth of shelving and some knee pads.

 Photos by Christina Nellemann

November 9, 2012

How Clean is Your Cell Phone?

Those handy, little devices go with us everywhere: the car, our coat pockets, the bathroom. Have you ever really considered how dirty that cell phone is when you stick it next to your face? 

I've been re-watching a bunch of the "How Clean is Your House?" shows that ran on the BBC a few years ago. I adore Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie and their clutter, grime and dirt busting tactics. In addition, after watching a show, I REALLY want to clean and disinfect my entire house.

Then I got to thinking about my cell phone. How often do I really clean the thing and what bacteria and microbes are crawling on my keypad?

According to the site, Keeping It Klean, the average cell phone...
  • can contain germs like Staphylococcus, Micrococcus and Bacillus, and one in six cellular phones is contaminated with fecal matter;
  • has more contamination than a toilet, a doorknob and the bottom of a shoe;
  • has bacteria on it than can live for more than a week;
  • contains tens of thousands of germs on each square inch and these germs can multiply when the phone is warmed up by heavy use or by the warmth from your hands and face.

There is hope. However, a daily cleaning regiment is required. This can include using sanitary wipes (check with your phone manufacturer first), a paper towel and rubbing alcohol, and a cotton swab and alcohol for the little nooks and crannies.

Also, this year a group of college students from Utah have invented a cell phone cleaner/charger that uses UV light to clean and disinfect cell phones. The Phone Soap only takes about three minutes to clean a phone, but they can also be left in the cleaner overnight.

All it takes are the word "fecal matter" to get people up and cleaning.

Photo by wine me up

November 1, 2012

Preparing to Go on a Clothes Diet

While many people will start the New Year with a new food diet, in 2013 I will be not be buying any more clothes.

I have enough.

For the next two months, I will be scrutinizing my closet, what I wear on a daily basis and will attempt to have enough outfits and practical clothing items to get me through the next 365 days. The goal is to have enough items to keep me stylish and appropriate for work, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I will be purging what no longer works, but I will also purchase one or two things to round out my wardrobe and to make sure I have enough socks and underwear.

The idea behind this challenge is that all of us really have all we need in our closets to stay warm and clothed. The constant wanting for new items has nothing to do with not having anything to wear, but more with being bored with what we already own.

This is what I've been learning about my own clothing purchases and how my habits will affect this challenge:

Get rid of and don't purchase the "just in case" stuff

It's highly unlikely I will ever walk the red carpet, so I am not going to go looking for a pair of black kitten heels to keep "just in case".

Embrace the staples

I reach for the same tank tops and black, long sleeved tops all the time. These will become the staples of my wardrobe and I will make them work with every other item I have. I have struggled over the years to find a "uniform", so I hope this challenge will enable me to find what works best for me.

Take care of what you have

When thinking of not purchasing clothes for a year, I got a little panicky. What if my favorite sweater completely unravels? What if a heel comes off my shoe? I relaxed and realized that I sometimes treat my favorite clothes in a not so nice way. Now I am conscious of taking off my nice shoes when I get home rather than running out into the garden with them. I also will quickly sew up a hole in that sweater before it grows to the size of Minneapolis.

Replace worn out or inferior items…but not right away

If I have an item that I think needs to be replaced, I am going to really think about how I wear that item and if I really do wear it enough to justify purchasing something similar.

Photo by Sue Westergaard