A Remember Wren Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Christmas decorations are packed away, giving our house a temporarily uncluttered look and I feel inspired to get rid of all our junk (wondering what to do in January when it’s cold outside? Uh, get organized, that’s what). I actually started some organizing projects many weeks ago, then I read this fantastic book that I’m dying to recommend to you, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I’m seriously wishing I had read this before I started some of my organizing projects and I hope you read it before you start yours. It will change your outlook, I swear!

black and white closet

First of all, the book will inspire you because Marie Kondo’s advice is so simple in it’s approach. There is absolutely no wishy-washy mumbo jumbo on how you have to understand what kind of organizer you are, what organizing method works best, or determine the flow patterns of your house. She will not recommend that you go to The Container Store and spend hundreds of dollars or develop new filing and organizing systems. It all comes down to this:

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”

Think on that for a second. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. It’s so simple, toddlers can do it at daycare.

Kondo doesn’t think highly of the incremental decluttering a bit every day approach. She insists on a massive sort, something like you’d see on that TLC show from way back, Clean Sweep. You’re likely to have more success if you can see massive results right off the bat that will help you stay motivated as you progress to more difficult items to sort like personal memorabilia. She suggests that you look at everything like it needs to go, it’s headed to the dump or Goodwill, and you handle each item and decide if it deserves to be kept because you actually use it or love it because it brings you joy. If you decide to keep it, you decide where to keep it right then. So, if you are going to clean out your closet, you take every single item out and gather up all the other clothing items from around your house, then consider each item individually to see if it is a keeper.

black and white shoes

Some of the best advice in the book is to not sort by area of your house, but by category of item. Like items should be sorted together and stored together. Reading that, you might say, “no duh!” but when I look at my house, there are a total of five different places any family member’s shoes could be at any given time. No wonder it takes us extra time to get out the door. This idea also helps you to see how much of a certain item you have and keeps you from acquiring the same thing over and over again (you would not believe how many screw driver sets we have).

Her advice for people like me, who live with packrats who have no desire to tidy up, is to keep sorting your own items and lead by example. I’m skeptical on this point, but maybe my family will come around when the realize I always know where my stuff is while they can’t find anything they want.

You get the gist of her philosophy with what I already shared, but I also have to mention the following tidbits, which just struck a chord with me:

  • Storage experts are hoarders
  • Save difficult items until last
  • Discard all of your paperwork

Mind blowing, right? “Storage experts are hoarders!” Well of course they are! They know every container you should keep things in and where to find it, the little addicts! “Save difficult items until last” seems like excellent advice but my intuition is to do the hard stuff first. From Kondo’s point of view though, I see my mistake. Organizing is a big decision making exercise. You’ll get better at making decisions the more you practice, so best to get lots of experience before tackling that difficult box of childhood memories. I’m still having a hard time with the “discard all of your paperwork” notion. I’m an expert at creating “what-if” scenarios, so I have every credit card statement and phone bill from the last seven years. Really, I know I can get that information online if I need it and for the most part I haven’t needed any of it at all, ever.

Gosh, that just scratches the surface of this book, so I hope you’ll take the time to read it before you tackle your organizing projects. I found Kondo’s approach to be very enlightening. The book is translated from Japanese and Kondo refers frequently to all the bags of garbage she has hauled out of clients’ homes. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that things were properly disposed of, whether donated or recycled. Ugh, where to take everything you discard is another matter isn’t it?

So what is up first on your organizing to do list? Read this book, hopefully, and then remember, not room by room, but category by category. Good luck!

Gift tags, socks, party planning and cute Christmas trucks

Last weekend I made gift tags from last years Christmas cards. They turned out really cute. I blogged about this last year. But I still love this idea, it’s resourceful, recycling and cuteness all rolled into one.

gift tags

I finished my son’s socks that I was working on. Remember how I told you I picked the yarn out 5 years ago? It felt really good to finish them up last weekend!! I tried to take a photo of them. Here they are and then he took off!!!


We’ve gotten to visit Ft. Worth for the first time recently and I have to say it is a fun place. Lots to see and do and eat – even if you are the littlest of hipsters!


We’ve decided to have our New Year’s Party again and so my mind has been in party planning mode. I think this year I’m going to keep it more simple than last year but we are going to have a children’s toast again this year. We had a toast for the kids a few hours early thinking some people would want to go home early with their kids but everyone stayed!
We did a balloon drop and bubble wrap pop at around 9 pm. It was tons of fun. I couldn’t believe how long it took the kids to pop the bubbles!  I thought they would all be popped in seconds!


I brought out a big sheet of bubble wrap and we did a count down.  At the same time we dropped balloons down on them and they got to jump up and down on the bubble wrap.  It was a fun time so I’d definitely like to do it again!!

And last but not least, I received the cutest ornament at a recent ornament exchange and ironically it was something that has been on my brain lately.


This is my favorite cute symbol of Christmas time.  I had even found cookie cutters that you could order.  And I also saw the cutest red truck in our hometown Christmas parade.  Funny how things get stuck in your head and then you see them everywhere!
So what holiday thoughts are swirling around in your head?



Christmas Treasures

Wow, Thanksgiving flew by and now we’re already two weeks from Christmas! All I’ve managed to accomplish is put up our two Christmas trees and hang our new wreath on the front door. I should be working on Christmas dining table arrangements and something for our mantel, but while I’m still thinking about that, I thought I’d share with you my favorite Christmas tree ornaments. They are hand-carved wood ornaments made by my dad.

santa collage

I love, love, love the Santa stuck in the chimney. I think it’s such a clever detail to have his face at the bottom of the ornament. I also have several Santa faces whittled on cut branches. Santa snoozing on the crescent moon is adorable. I put all of these handmade ornaments on our old small tree. The tree itself looks a little Charlie Brown, but it’s made extra special by these ornaments.

Three Santas

My other Christmas treasures are three Santa figurines, also carved by my dad. I have to say my favorite is the one in the middle because of how my dad followed the natural shape of the wood to make it. I’m not sure where he came up with the idea to insert a golf ball into a Santa carving, but he did really enjoy golf and would even carve ornaments out of old golf balls.

I’m sure I’ll change the color scheme or theme of our Christmas decorations several times over my lifetime, but these pieces handcrafted by my dad will always be at the center of my holiday décor. What treasured pieces do you bring out year after year?