Episode #38: So Fresh + So Clean (Decluttering + Organizing)

Hi! This week’s episode is all about cleaning and decluttering.

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show notes: 

-We mention The Curated Closet Workbook.

(as always, haha—but it is one of our year-long goals and an excellent way to kickstart a closet clean out!)

-Emma’s prom dress photo

This actually isn’t the dress I saved. This is from my junior year prom (we had that at my high school) and the dress we talk about in this episode is from my senior year prom. But, I can’t find a photo of it and I thought I might as well give you all something. 😉

The Home Edit + books
Be sure to pre-order their new book (Elsie’s home is in it—eeee!!!)

-Here’s Elsie’s kids art photo book 

Poshmark You can use my code to get a $10 credit for your first order—install the free app here! Use the code ELSIELARSON

Thred Up (get your clean out bag here)

Habitat for Humanity restore

Here’s an older post Emma wrote about the clothing swaps she hosts and how to do your own.

The Home Edit organization collection

Sparks Joy Segment:

Elsie’s find: Yogasleep dohm sound machine. This is what I have. I just realized it comes in pink too.

Wow. I did a really bad job of explaining the sound. But it’s every bit as good as a fan and better than a sound machine, in our opinion. Really love it! Going to get a few extras for travel, guests rooms, etc.

Emma’s bathrobes: Emma’s/Trey’s  (Do you think the color of Trey’s is “burnt orange” or “dusty pink?” We have a bet going.)

Thank you to everyone who is sharing our podcast, subscribing, or has left us a review! These actions mean so much to us and are helping us grow. 🙂 XX- Elsie + Emma

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 38 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. Today, we are talking about one of our all time favorite subjects, decluttering, and we are those people who bow down to Marie Kondo and we love to get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy in our lives. So we’re talking about that, talking about cleaning, organizing, and then where to sell or donate those items that you end up letting go of.
Elsie: Bye! OK. So we wanted to start out by talking about how we approach each room or each project when it’s time to declutter. Decluttering is a big passion in my life, it wasn’t always. I mean, we called our blog A Beautiful Mess. I think I used to take pride in how messy my studio was, and my closet, and my bedroom floor, just to name a few,
Emma: We’re at least not afraid of a mess. We’ll say that. Definitely didn’t grow up feeling like that was a problem or that was like, something to feel shameful about.
Elsie: No, definitely not. Our parents are not perfectionists. We weren’t raised with…maybe they were a little bit perfectionist.
Emma: I mean, they wouldn’t, like, let us have a completely dirty room all the time. I don’t want to make it sound like they didn’t care, but also they didn’t…it wasn’t like everything has to be perfectly clean or you can’t go outside this weekend. It wasn’t really like that for us.
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: So anyway, we do value a clean room and especially, I really value having less visual clutter in my life. It makes me feel a lot more calm. I think I figured this out about myself over the years.
Elsie: Hell yeah.
Emma: I just feel a lot more calm and a lot more ready to do whatever it is I’m going to do, whether it’s relaxing on the weekend or getting into a creative project during the week. I just don’t do well if my space is super, super messy. I find that it actually really slows me down because, maybe this is an Enneagram nine thing, I don’t know, maybe it’s an everybody thing, but I all of the sudden start seeing all the things that I need to do and I get very distracted. Like I’m like, “oh, I need to answer these emails and fill out these papers. But first, I need to just do those dishes in the sink because it’s overflowing and it’s just I get really distracted.” So decluttering, cleaning, organizing really helps me have a better mindset for life. (laughs)
Elsie: I feel the same way. I think it’s like an older and wiser thing because the older I get, the more it truly makes me happy to have a clean and organized home. It’s not just like superficial happiness either. It’s deep, real joy. (laughs)
Emma: Yes.
Elsie: It’s true. Joy.
Emma: Yes. I think I thought it was just silly how much people were into this type of thing. I even think when the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up first became popular for…popular years and years ago, I was a little like, “I don’t know. That seems a little silly…I’m not…” And now I’m like, “oh, no, this is real. This is 100 percent real.” It really can kind of change your life a little bit. And it’s, it’s a thing that I seriously look forward to in my life. It’s like on my list of like, once I get everything done, all my chores, then I can clean out my bathroom closet. You know, and I’m like, excited about.
Elsie: I agree. I find it to be kind of a treat, although there are some spaces like currently our garage where it’s it’s not a treat. It’s more of a, dreading it type of situation.
Emma: That’s true.
Elsie: There’s ones that are easy and fun and it brings you joy really quickly. And there’s ones where you have to have a strategy. So we’re going to talk about all of that today. So. OK. You have a tip for getting yourself in the mood to declutter.
Emma: Yes. So just like Elsie is saying, some areas are a chore. Some areas are fun. So my tip is start with something that’s going to give you momentum. So I think it’s something that you can finish quickly in one or two hours at the most. You know, this is very like not Konmari because she usually on the TV show and in her book, she encourages people to start with their clothing, which she is the master. So I’m not disagreeing with her. However, I do think that is an area that can be difficult for some people. It can be very overwhelming and it can take quite a chunk of time. So for me, I think if you’re like feeling overwhelmed, pick something easy. So my thing that I would recommend because this is small in my house is I will do like my bathroom cabinets. And if I have the time, I’ll even do all the bathroom cabinets in my master. So my husband’s too. I’m not like throwing away his stuff, like behind his back, just like stuff that I know has sat there. You start with something that you can tackle in an hour too, like a bathroom cabinet.
Elsie: I totally agree with that. Even just one kitchen drawer, like one thing that’s bugging you.
Emma: Yes.
Elsie: One shelf on your pantry. I love that because you’re just getting something that’s bugging you the way you want, it is going to make you happy and make you feel like, OK, I’m ready to do bigger things.
Emma: Yes.
Elsie: OK. So my tip is to set aside plenty of time. This is more for like a room. Set aside plenty of time. So I am a person, I get a lot of mental blocks. And I have had so many times when my closet is like completely like, you can’t even walk in there. Filled with stuff and Jeremy will be like, why don’t you do that this afternoon and I’ll be like, “I need three days to do that.” So I make a very overblown, you know, amount of time that I need. And if I don’t have that much time all at once, then I will put the job off for later. So, yeah, setting aside time, like scheduling, it is a big thing that helps me. And then the next thing is getting yourself into a savage mindset so you can’t go into it feeling like kind of iffy on what your end goal is. You need to set your big goal. And for me, with my closet or, you know, the things like the garage. The goal is going to be like to get rid of half the stuff.
Emma: Ooh, yeah.
Elsie: A big goal. And you have to remind yourself of that. Take breaks when you need them. Go get a snack, you know, hit the La Croix and then come back savage. Because I do think that that’s what it takes to get rid of a lot of stuff all at once. It is a little bit like emotional at first. And once you get into it, it’s empowering.
Emma: Yes, you have to have that unsubscribe energy. That’s what I call it! When you wake up and you’re like I’m getting rid of all of this stuff I don’t need!
Elsie: Yes! Yeah. I mean, I. So I recently did it when we staged our previous home to sell. I did the thing that people say about making closets half as full. So I pretty much just put stuff in storage. But the feeling is great. Like I liked the closet. I liked it better. I liked everything better that we did. The kids rooms, we just, you know, moved a bunch of stuff. We did like a pre-move thing and pretty much move like two rooms full of stuff, a small moving truck. And our house was instantly lighter, brighter, happier. Our kids were playing in their rooms alone all a sudden where they hadn’t really been doing that. It really lifted the mood. So I think if that’s your end goal, that’s something that, at least for me, would really motivate me.
Emma: It is surprising how much because you mentioned, like, the feeling being lighter. I feel that, too. Like, it just my life feels so much lighter and more in control and like, I just literally feel like a weight lifted off me when I see stuff that is leaving my house that I didn’t love, that I didn’t use, you know, and we’ll talk about where it’s going to go.
Elsie: Especially if it’s something that you’ve failed to get rid of in the past, like you haven’t used it in years. But I have a couple of suitcases that have old stuff in them. It’s old scrapbooks and some like personal things from like high school and stuff like that.
Emma: Right.
Elsie: And I still haven’t been able to get rid of them, but I know that when I actually do it, it’ll feel really good.
Emma: Yeah. It almost feels like you’re getting your power back over those those items, which it’s not bad to be sentimental and to keep things. But also, I feel like some of it…I’m keeping things out of guilt.
Elsie: It’s not sentimental if you’re leaving it in a suitcase for ten years and…
Emma: You’re not even looking at it. Yeah. And exactly.
Elsie: …unzipping it and zipping it back up because it freaks you out.
Emma: Exactly.
Elsie: OK. So we’re going to kind of rattle off some tips back and forth so my first one is closet tips. You know that we’re really big into the Curated Closet. We love the book. We’re doing the workbook right now. It’s both…it’s one of our New Year’s goals for each of us. It’s helped me immensely. I can’t recommend it enough.
Emma: I think we mention it like, every episode. We’re like so into it. (laughs)
Elsie: We mention it a lot. I feel like we should be partnering with her. It’s funny at this point .
Emma: I know! You’d think when we wrote this book, but it’s like, no, we just love this book.
Elsie: Well, it’s really helped because it’s good for each of us. Like, we’ve struggled to find out or felt like we wanted a new style. We wanted, like our little uniform, a little thing that special has to be a little bit creative, but also really easy. It was like the specific thing that we wanted to do. And then when you go into your closet and you feel like you put on four or five outfits and none of them are that thing, it’s the most frustrating thing in the world.
Emma: Yes.
Elsie: So my closet tip. I love the Marie Kondo thing she does. Putting it all on your bed, every single thing from the whole closet and every drawer, that, I’ve done it about probably five times over the last four or five years. And it helps me a lot to cut out things. And trying on each item, I think is super important. I am a big believer in not keeping things that don’t fit anymore, even though I have a couple of times kept like a couple of things. But if you’re going to do it, keep it separately, like in a separate part of your closet, not with your clothes that you wear every day. Because I don’t want things mixed in that don’t fit you. You know, and if it’s sentimental, like there’s a spot for that, too. I have like a spot in the back, my closet just for sentimental items.
Emma: I do too. It has my wedding dress and my prom dress from my senior year of high school.
Elsie: Yes. Oh, that’s a cute prom dress too. OK. Emma’s prom pictures are going in the show notes it’s really cute. It was so pretty. It was a flea market or, thrift.
Emma: Yeah. It was from the store that we bought later in life.
Elsie: Oh my gosh, right.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: Ah! Okay. Memories. OK, the next one is Emma’s pantry and kitchen tips.
Emma: Yes. So I would consider these are two quick tips and I would consider these kind of like low hanging fruit, like if you do nothing else. Do these two things and it will have a high impact. So for your pantry, simply go through everything and throw out anything that has that has expired, maybe…
Elsie: Or might be expired.
Emma: …or it will be expiring in the next month. And you kind of know you’re not going to use it. So I’m a person who cooks a lot. I love to cook. And I was shocked how many things still ended up in a pile like this.
Elsie: It happens.
Emma: It’s usually things that, like you use a little bit of it at a time, you know, like certain types of vinegars or a certain type, you know, things like that. So anyway, and that’s always a bummer, too, because I, I think it’s a good motivator for the next time. So it’s like I’m going to make sure to use everything. I don’t want to throw away food that expires anyway. So things with expiration dates. And then the second low hanging fruit tip is go through all of your kitchen gear. So all your flatware, plates, little appliances, gadgets, all that stuff, and just get rid of duplicates or ones that you don’t use. For example, we have only two spatulas in our home and still I probably should get rid of one because Trey is always like, “where’s the good spatula?” If it’s if the dishwasher. Because there’s one that just works better. And, you know, you kind of know your things. If you cook and if you use things, then, you know. Oh, and I have one item that I do have a duplicate of. And it’s because I use it so often and it’s one of those like lemon and lime squeezers.
Elsie: Oh yeah.
Emma: Because I put like fresh lemon in my water all the time or in tea. So that’s like my one thing that I’m like, actually I have a duplicate and I really do use it and they really do spark joy.
Elsie: So you put it in the dishwasher, is that why? I just rinse mine out every time I use it.
Emma: I also rinse them out I still…I just use them constantly like I use them two or three times every day.
Elsie: Wow
Emma: Yeah, I’m a citrus crazy person but yeah. So if nothing else get rid of those expired things and get rid of duplicates and things you don’t use.
Elsie: Nice. Okay. My next tip is for decluttering little things and by little things I mean decorations, little vases, statues, picture frames, things like that. So OK, I think that this is a place where you can be very savage because the truth is…so I did in my last house, I donated like, a lot of little things over the course of a year. And I really, really believe in it now that you shouldn’t keep decorations that you don’t like, love.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: Because it’s it’s a decoration like you can find another picture frame at a thrift store or a flea market or, you know, a garage sale. There’s so many places where you can collect things like that for free or for a very low amount of money. I just don’t think you should hold onto something. And this is also why I don’t buy little things at Target very much anymore, because I find I don’t love them. Yeah. Just for me personally, I don’t think of an impulse buy like you’re just in the mood that day or it’s really cute, but you’re like, I don’t even know why we’re against Target because I spend a ton of money at Target still. But it’s like they’re little decorations. It’s not for me. It’s better for me to just buy the thing I really love for the spot when it’s time for that room to be completed.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: And then my next one is getting rid of kids stuff. So this is really, really difficult. And the first year that we were parents, it was difficult. And then I implement some things and now it’s easy. So I’m teaching you.
Emma: Okay. Tell us this journey.
Elsie: Yes. OK, so when we were waiting to adopt, I asked Clea from the Home Edit, is it possible to have a kids room that is like, you know, like a magazine, like an Instagram, like the beautiful, you know, the perfect closet, the toys that are really cute to you and then not all the other stuff. Like plastic big stuff, you know, things like that. And she said, “Sure it is. If you’re willing to get rid of everything that people buy you as gifts.” And I never forgot that. And…
Emma: Clea’s pretty savage 24/7.
Elsie: True. It’s true. But I will say that our moms have both adopted the habit of asking us now, like what our kids are, especially for Christmas. They’ll ask for a list. And it’s been super helpful because then we’re getting toys that we’re keeping for years to come and it’s really, really special. So I’m grateful that I don’t have a mom or mother in law that buys me like the giant plastic playhouses. But if you do, you heard the answer. You heard it for me. It’s on Clea. You heard it from Clea, not from me! (laughs) Ok, so the other thing about kids stuff is kids clothes, shoes and things like that. So this is what…this is the habit that I adopted. And you don’t have to do it, but, it really works for me. So I have a friend, like a family friend who’s one size smaller than Nova and a family friend who’s one size smaller than Goldie, and every single thing that they grow out of goes to those two girls. Except for the most special sentimental stuff. And I keep those. Like, if it’s Nova’s I keep those for Goldie or like Goldie, just grow out of her first baby boots. And I’m keeping those just for no reason. Just because I want to. You can give yourself a few little things. But I found that just like getting rid of it and giving it to someone who can use it now is much more useful for me than putting it in the garage. Forgetting it’s there. And then, you know, when Goldie isn’t just now growing into Nova’s first size from when we first adopted her. And I can’t find all the stuff I saved. It’s just not realistically going to happen. So I kind of wish I would have just given it to the little girl that’s one size smaller than Nova. From now on, that’s what I’ll do. I just think it’s more functional and it gives things a purpose right away. And you can always, you know, trade close back and forth. Like when we first got home from China, we didn’t have any clothes Goldie’s size and my friend brought me a big thing of, you know, clothes that they had just grown out of. Like, there’s always gonna be some way to trade baby clothes back and forth. Don’t hoard them.
Emma: I feel like this is maybe like a pro-tip hack, too, because you just make sure to have your babies right after your very stylish friend does so you can be that friend who gets the hand-me-downs. (laughs)
Elsie: That iss actually. Yeah. I don’t know if you can strategically plan that…
Emma: I don’t think you could quite plan that, but . (laughs)
Elsie: But I do feel like the little girls that get our kids hand me downs are kind of lucky because some of them are really cute.
Emma: I remember getting some of our cousins stuff from Buffalo. That was awesome.
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: They had on the name brand stuff. They were fancy.
Elsie: Yeah. Yeah. We were like Walmart children. Okay.
Emma: Do you have any tips for kids, artwork or things they bring home from preschool. If not, we can cut this out. But…
Elsie: No, that’s a good one.
Emma: That one seems really hard to me. I’m not a mom, but those seem like the most sentimental. And you probably feel a little like “oh, it’s so small. It would be easy…” but it’s so much. There’s actually a lot of it. So…
Elsie: It accumulates really fast, especially if your children go to any kind of school or daycare. Then they’ll send home artwork almost every day. In some cases…
Emma: That’s a lot of artwork.
Elsie: OK, my advice, my honest advice is I have done the thing with the photobook where you take all the pictures, you keep it a photo album on your phone. Print a book. But my honest advice, like what I’m doing for Goldie, is just only keep the really, really, really awesome ones. And just throw the rest away. I know it seems really heartless, but it doesn’t matter. Like, there’s so many special things, like we have, you know, our ornament from her first year with her first year handprint. And whenever it gets the point where she makes her first painting, I’ll definitely frame that. We’re gonna have plenty of artwork. You don’t need to keep every single little thing that comes home from school. But I do think that’s a difference between the first kid and the second kid is just being able to do that and knowing that like not every piece of paper is sacred.
Emma: Sure. Sure.
Elsie: Yeah. OK. So we’re going to talk about some options for donating, selling, etc., because cleaning out your house is one thing, but then you have to put all this stuff somewhere, and especially right now with COVID. I don’t know for sure…
Emma: Some places may not be open, but also we recognize that some of you are gonna be listening months or years in the future. So we’re just gonna put it all out there.
Elsie: Yeah. So lately, I will say for the last few months, we had a couple times when we needed to get rid of stuff and there was no donation places open. So some of these other options can work well for that.
Emma: Sure.
Elsie: So for selling things. So I’m a lover of closet sales. I do, maybe one or two a year. A big one. And they’re great because I’m able to sell things that I feel guilty about, like I spent money on it, but then I never really wore it or, you know, occasionally I buy something from…I buy a lot of used clothes. PoshMark or eBay or whatever and I get it and it doesn’t fit me just right. And it’s not going to. So I just resell that.
Emma: Do you usually resell it on the same site? Like when you say closet sale. Do you do it the same every time or are there a few different ways you do it.
Elsie: Yeah. So I’ve used dePop and Poshmark. They’re both good. I think that for whatever reason dePop, my stuff sells faster on dePop so that’s what I usually do. But it’s like an iPhone only app, which is annoying to some people.
Emma: I always buy stuff on Poshmark.
Elsie: But it makes your shipping labels for you. That’s true. I love shopping on Poshmark, but I like selling on dePop. It’s random. I hardly ever buy anything on dePop.
Emma: I’ve never bought anything on there. I’ve always use Poshmark.
Elsie: But yeah for shopping I love Poshmark and Thredup. Those are all so great. So yeah. Let’s talk about the Thredup bags.
Emma: Yes. Because you were telling me this before. Started recording and I was like, wait, wait, wait, explain this on the podcast, because I actually didn’t know this was an option and it sounds perfect for someone like me who’s like, I do have a few things that are probably worth selling, but I’m pretty lazy. I just prioritize my full time job. And then I’m after that, I’m like, I don’t really want more things to do on the weekend. I just need to do weeds in my yard, you know? So anyway…
Elsie: Right.
Emma:  OK. So tell them about the…
Elsie: Closet sales can take up a lot of time that’s something you have to know. Like shipping all the stuff, just printing the labels even with like a premade label and then, you know, packing it all up if it can take some time. Especially if you have a lot. OK. So ThredUp has this really cool thing where you can just go on their website and request a bag and they send you this giant bag. It’s kind of like a trash bag that’s more sturdy and you fill it up with all your stuff. They have specifications of what they accept. I think it only accepts women’s clothes and kids clothes and then not every single type of thing. You need to read the list. Yeah, to make sure. But I’ve done it probably five or six times. And the thing that’s cool about it is like I don’t like to sell clothes if they’re not worth very much so I usually put them in my Thredup bag just because it’s like easier. And the thing that’s cool about thread up is you get credits when your stuff sells. And even though the credits aren’t very big, the prices on Thredup also are really low. So you can buy something cool eventually with the money you earn and it just feels better. It’s like they went to a better home. I put a lot of kids clothes in my bag. If it’s just, I don’t know.
Emma: Something something decent, something nice, but not like a crazy expensive piece or anything.
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: And then I’ll put like my clothes, you can send in clothes that are from like Target or a store comparable to that, not like fancy stuff. You might want to sell your fancy stuff in a closet sale if you care about, you know, optimizing.
Emma: Right.
Elsie: But, you know, you can send basically any any brand to Thredup. They accept anything that’s a commonly known brand. There’s like rules like it can’t be damaged and stuff. But I highly recommend because it’s very easy.
Emma: Yes.
Elsie: And, yeah, shopping on their site is fun. I found some really cool stuff. I have a Chloë skirt, a Prada skirt. This is so weird, right?
Emma: Yeah it is weird.
Elsie: And then a couple of just like really cool tops and then a couple of fancy dresses like Christmas party dresses where I wouldn’t have wanted to pay…like Diane von Furstenberg type of stuff. I wouldn’t have wanted to pay like what they really cost. But when you have credits and then it only ends up being like 50 bucks, it’s kind of awesome.
Emma: Yeah. And we should say a couple of these sites and services have sponsored us in the past. But none of this right now is sponsored. This is just…
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: What we do and we’re telling you about it. So just you know, I know people always want to know. So just so you know.
Elsie: Yes.
Emma: We make it really clear we have a sponsor. That’s not now.
Elsie: Yeah we’re being transparent. Totally. Okay. The next thing is Craigslist Free.
Emma: Oh wait, so I want to say one more thing about clothing.
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: This is a if you are not interested in selling it, you don’t care about selling it. You don’t want to deal with that. And you’re not planning to donate to a thrift, which we’ll talk a little bit about…That once or twice a year, I host a clothing exchange with a book club, which is a bunch of women I’m friends with, and it’s something that we all really look forward to. And I know when my friends clean out their closets, they’re saving some of their pieces for the clothing exchange because we take it kind of serious. We bring nice things like it’s not just like junky things and it’s really fun. I always find a couple pieces that I love. It’s just a really like fun thing to do to reuse clothes. And then we donate anything that people don’t take. And it’s just kind of, it’s kind of social.
Elsie: They make it like a wine night.
Emma: Yeah, it’s it’s a fun little social event. So that’s a fun way to like, if you’re dreading cleaning out your closet. Maybe think about hosting one of those. So then once you do it, you get to host that. And it’s like a fun little, you know, reward. I don’t know, just something I do that I want to share.
Elsie: That’s awesome.Yeah. That is I think that’s a really, really cute idea.
Emma: It’s really fun. Yeah. And I have a couple of friends that are like my exactly my size and I’m like, I can’t wait to see what she brings. Anyway. Moving on. So beyond clothes. Okay, this could still be close, but other items too. Yes.
Elsie: So. Okay. Craigslist free is here’s what I use it for:  ot to get stuff because you have to be really fast. People are extreme. But when you need to get rid of something that is big, like you can’t physically fit it in your car to take it to the Restore or just a lot of stuff at once, like sort of like having a garage sale. But you don’t have you don’t get any money and you don’t have to do anything. You can just put a bunch of…we’ve done this many times, put a bunch of stuff in your driveway and then take a picture and put it on Craigslist free and it will be gone in a couple hours.
Emma: Yeah. And what I always say, if you’ve never done this before. Then here’s….so you set it out by, you know, closest to the road that you can. So people are able to take it and they don’t feel like they have to come on your property too much. But they can safely park. You know, so you figure that out for you in your house. Take a photo with your phone. Put it on Craigslist free and in the listing put.”Do not contact me. Simply come and take it. And once it’s gone, I will remove this listing.” And then do it. Because that way I really cannot keep up with lots of emails and phone calls of like, what are the exact measurements, you know, things like that. If I’m giving something away for free. I’m like, just come, get it. And I will remove it once it’s gone because I don’t want people to waste their time. But I’m not going to answer emails because it’s it’s free. So, you know. Yeah.
Elsie: Yeah. Well, it works really well. Like, I remember one time someone took a broken mirror and we were like, why, how? But it…
Emma: Maybe they were doing a mosaic project.
Elsie: They were so thankful. Yeah. I mean you just never know. You can kind of put anything.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: And then the next thing is donating to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity Restore. So Goodwill I would donate more like clothes and things like that. We’ve tried occasionally just because of the nature of our work. We’ve tried to donate like home stuff like home, renovating stuff, and they will not accept things like that, you know, like things like if you have a lot of leftover wallpaper where you have an extra faucet for some reason, you know, just things like that. Right. That’s the right stuff to take to Habitat for Humanity Restore. It’s also a really cool place to shop, if you don’t mind planning very far ahead and sort of like it. It’s just very random.
Emma: It’s worth checking out. It’s very, very random, but it’s definitely worth checking out because there can be really nice stuff. I’ve also sent pretty decent stuff there before. That just wasn’t my style, but it was in great condition and, you know, so it’s a great place to check out.
Elsie: Usually if we have leftover supplies at the end of a project. We’ll take it there then. It’s just nice to, like, not take it to a landfill, like take it somewhere where hopefully someone will be able to get some use out of this stuff. So that’s cool.
Emma: Yeah. And, you know, you can always pick your favorite charities, obviously Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. We really believe in the work they do. Also in Springfield, we have a lot of Red Racks, which used to be DAV. So it’s for Disabled American Veterans, which is a great cause. And a lot of these places, too, if you have really large items, if you give them a call and explain the nature of it, sometimes they will pick things up depending what it is pending, if they’re able. You know, it just depends if they have a truck or they have the right staff for that. But that’s really nice. If you’re by yourself, you’re single and you have something really, really heavy, that can be a big help.
Elsie: That’s a good point. Okay, so let’s talk about the benefits of decluttering and having less. Yeah. And why we’re motivated to keep doing this year after year after year.
Emma: Yes. OK. So I’ll tell you a really quick little story that kind of illustrates something for me. So the last time we moved from our first home to the home we currently live in, we had our movers pack up our house and move it. So I’ve never done that before. It was something we just tried. We had, we’d never done it, so we didn’t know that much about it. And…
Elsie: I’ve never done that before.
Emma: Yeah. And we didn’t have a very big home. We had like eighteen hundred square feet home, but we had a lot of stuff. We had a lot of tchotchkes. It had a lot of stuff like that, lot of pictures and frames, a lot of extra artwork in frames and closets. And basically I did not declutter my house before moving. I just.
Elsie: Yeah. You had floor to ceiling bookshelves.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: That you filled. Just to be filled.
Emma: Yes.
Elsie: So. Yeah…that’s a big…
Emma: So I just had lots of stuff. I really wasn’t in this mindset back then. And we had booked them for like a whole day. I forget exactly like if it was a number of hours or if it was a day rate. I truthfully don’t remember. It’s been a few years, but they they weren’t able to finish in the time allotted. They had to come back the next day and finish packing and then move. And it just really made me realize how much stuff I had. And just like little things that I really didn’t even need, because as we unpacked in our new home, there were so many boxes I opened that I was kind of like, I think I’ll just take this to Goodwill, this whole box. And we actually, I can think of one box that’s in our home right now that we still haven’t even opened at all and it’s just…
Elsie: How many years?
Emma: Almost five years, I think. And it’s, I’m not even sure what’s in it. It’s just in a closet somewhere. And so…
Elsie: You know you don’t want it. Yeah.
Emma: You know, you don’t need it because you haven’t even looked for that thing. So it’s just really taught me a lesson about how much stuff I have and didn’t even realize I had didn’t realize I didn’t need, didn’t realize. I really didn’t love it. And it kind of ended up having a lot of time and expense in my life. It took up a lot of space, not just mentally and emotionally, but financially and like literally it takes up space in your closet and such. So I really learned a lesson there. And now I. I feel like most of the rooms in our homes, almost all of them. I feel like I could pack them up myself very quickly. I’m not saying I can move the furniture by myself. Whole different thing, but I feel very like, yeah, if we ever move. It’s not really going to be that bad. We do have a lot of stuff. We have a whole house of stuff. But I feel like, I know what everything is. I know I want it. I know we use it. And I don’t feel like there’s a bunch of surprises in closets of stuff that I just. “Oh, yeah. That was from this years ago. And I don’t even know why I have this”, you know.
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: So anyway, that got into a rambling sorry, but I was just trying to communicate that I feel a lot more power and control in my life. Decluttering. I feel like I know what I have and I feel just in control.
Elsie: Yeah.
Emma: Which is a good feeling.
Elsie: No, I think that’s a really good story. I kind of felt the same way. Moving recently. And you know, the thing I said about our kids playing in their rooms all the sudden, like everything in there is fresh and new and exciting to them. And that was a great feeling. And yeah, having less stuff in our bathroom, in our closets, that was nice. I did a round of de cluttering our kitchen so that it just looked more minimal. And guess what? It was easier to keep clean and prettier. It just looked better all the time, faster to clean. I just think there are so many benefits. And it also does feel good to give away or drop off for a donation or even sell it to someone who actually wants it.
Emma: When I see one of of my friends wearing one of my clothing items, now and again we’ll see each other wearing each other’s stuff from the clothing exchange, which is my easiest like. Oh I see it’s being used and it feels so good to see something that you’re like this was great, but I just never wore it. And now someone’s using it and it has a new life of its own. It feels so good to feel like things aren’t being wasted just sitting in your home.
Elsie: I absolutely agree. I think that the worst feeling is moving something that you didn’t even wear or use since your last move and just knowing that this shouldn’t even be with me, but I am not taking the time to take care of it. So, yeah. Okay, let’s talk about the fun part: organizing. So we will link to Clean and Joanna’s book, The Home Edit. They have an amazing book and it’s mostly about organizing. So I feel like where Marie Kondo inspires me to declutter the home, Home Edit inspires me to organize because they do all the cute stuff and it does matter to me that the like your pantry is, like aesthetically pleasing. Does it matter to you?
Emma: Yeah, I think, you know, we, I don’t know. I don’t find that stuff to be shallow. I find that to be like everyday magic. Whenever you open your fridge and you feel a little bit of happiness because you can easily find things and you can see everything and you know right away where your favorite LaCroix flavor is, you know, like, yes, I consider that everyday magic. So not shallow to me, but that’s just my opinion.
Elsie: Nice. I completely agree. I love to organize. I think it’s great to reuse containers that you already have. But if you need to buy some new containers and you need some cute acrylic containers, then yeah, they yeah, they make me extremely happy. Yeah. Let’s link a few things because I know that Home Edit has a great line at the Container Store and I also use a lot of acrylic organizers from IKEA.
Emma: Yeah. I especially think if it’s a space that you see often or that it’s like more open storage, just getting the cute containers and everything that fits, you know, is great. But if you have a space like your master closet where you you don’t see it that often or whatever, then use containers that you already have and then you don’t have to buy more stuff or you can save a little money using what you have. To me, that’s kind of what I do.
Elsie: I like to use what I have first because, honestly a lot of stuff translated. When we recently moved, it was kind of easy. Like I organized, you know, all my makeup with stuff I already had. Our kids rooms, so we have a built in bookshelf in one of our kids rooms that I don’t think we’ve shown yet. It’s really cute. And it’s like lots and lots of baskets. So anyway, I think organizing is definitely the fun part and it’s kind of like the reward at the end of the decluttering.
Emma: I mean, truly, the Home Edit are the experts. So I don’t even feel like I like I have anything to offer beyond that. So I would check them out. But a couple of quick little things is, I would say first and foremost, always think about functionality. So the more you can organize things so that they’re in a space where it’s going to be easy for you to get at the time that you need it. So, for example, you’re not going to put your sock drawer in your kitchen. This is this very obvious. But I’m just giving you a really simple example.
Elsie: (laughs) “For example..”
Emma: Because you don’t usually put your socks on in the kitchen, you would have to walk from your bedroom. So that doesn’t make any sense. So every now and again in life, I have done something silly where I put something somewhere because I just had a drawer there. And then I realized later, this annoys me. So don’t do that. That’s like number one as function.
Elsie: I do like batching up organization by function. I think that that’s a really great tip.
Emma: Yeah.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: Because sometimes it’s not like, it’s not what you think it is, you know, like or sometimes it doesn’t need to be like a traditional spot that you would always keep…
Emma: You do what your parents did and then you realize, actually I could put this here and it would be better for me and what we do at our house. You know what I mean? And it’s just taking a minute to be really thoughtful and intentional about the items in your home, which is the next step from decluttering. You know, that’s all it really is, is being really thoughtful and intentional with the items in your life where you put them, how many you have, if they work for you, all of it, and also how beautiful they are. Because I think that stuff really matters. That affects our own mood. And, you know, some people are collectors. They want certain designers or they want a certain collection. I think that stuff’s really fun, too, and can spark joy.
Elsie: No, I completely agree. I think having. OK, so you guys know I love furniture and decorating…
Emma: She does.
Elsie: …but I think that this is more important than, you know…
Emma: Oh organizing and decluttering.?
Elsie: Yeah, I do. I think it’s even more important than having your dream sofa or whatever, having a pantry like as mine is right now. You’ve seen it. That’s pure hell. Makes your life.
Emma: It’s pretty rough. It’s pretty rough in there.
Elsie: Not heavenly I guess, isthe right way to say it (laughs).
Emma:  Well, it’s just a constant little annoyance. It’s not like it’s a big deal.
Elsie: And it could be fixed in one day.
Emma: Exactly. It’s like a constant little annoyance that if you just took a little more time and attention, you can solve it for yourself, which feels amazing when you can solve your own problems, even if they’re tiny problems still.
Elsie: Yeah. No it feels amazing.
Emma: How powerful does it feel?
Elsie: Yes. So incredible. OK. So we’re going to do a segment that is called Sparks Joy. And it’s about little a little thing, a little upgrade, a little something, something that is making our lives happier right now. So mine is my new sound machine. It’s actually not a sound machine. OK, so let me give you a little backstory. If you follow on Instagram, you might have seen this, but my husband loves box fans and he is a very a light sleeper. He’s a super light sleeper. Very, very specific on how he wants the sleeping conditions. If it’s too hot, if it’s too cold, if it’s too bright, we would never go camping. We would never sleep outside. Not one day in our life.
Emma: He just couldn’t. He couldn’t do it. Like it doesn’t.
Elsie: It’s an absolutely not. There’s been times when we stayed in, like an Air BnB or whatever, where it was uncomfortable, where he was like, “we are leaving”. Like he’s , he’s an extremely light sleeper. So take that into context when you hear this next part. So he loves his box fan. And I can’t even tell you the number of times that we were in another city and we were there like by airplane and we go to Wal-Mart or Target and buy a box fan, just use in our hotel. And then you just leave it there when you leave because there’s no way to bring it home because it’s like he cannot sleep without it.
Emma: Yeah.
Elsie: So it’s a thing that’s been bothering me for a while that I wanted to find a solution for. And it’s also just kind of a petty aesthetic thing that bothers me is that Jeremy’s side of the bed is by our bedroom door. And when you walk in and I just finished decorating our bedroom and it’s like this, you know, box fan, kind of like killing the vibe.
Emma: It makes me think of Fraiser and his dad’s chair.
Elsie: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly what it is.
Emma: His beautiful, you know, modern 80s apartment or whatever and then his dad’s chair.
Elsie: I think about Frasier all the time. Frasier was a big part of our childhoods. Good show. Okay. So I have tried a couple different sound machines and. OK, so the ones that our kids use, we can hear a little loop and I can hear it too. We could both hear it. And once you hear it for the first time, it will keep you up and you can’t even hear it.
Emma: And you’re like listening for it, right? Kind of. You can’t stop yourself.
Elsie: And this specific one sounded like the noise of a baby, which was even more disturbing because we have a baby right now.
Emma: Right.
Elsie: Who cries a lot and…
Emma: You’re already on high alert for that noise.
Elsie: Exactly. Yeah. So, yeah. And we’ve just just got to the point where we’re not using a baby monitor. So anyway, I was looking for a sound machine alternative that doesn’t have a loop. And this is all that it needed to be. I was like bonus points if it’s cute. Bonus points if it’s very small because I’d love to take it like have one that stays in our suitcase at all times, never comes out and we’re never without it, because that’s a thing that we’ve run into before, we’re we’re like taking these extra trips and basically wasting time and money.  It’s wasteful to get these silly fans because. Yeah, it’s just not good enough at hotels just use like use the bathroom fan or whatever.
Emma: Right.
Elsie: So we found one. That’s so cool. So we only tried three. I ordered the top three that the most people DMed me and one of them is an actual fan. It’s called the yoga sleep Dohm. And it looks like a sound machine. It’s beautiful. It’s really cute I’m going to link in the show notes, but it has a fan inside of it. So there’s absolutely no possibility of a loop, which is the most important thing that we couldn’t find before. And we’ve now slept with it for over a week and it’s going great. And I feel like we are actually rid of the box fan forever. So does it sound like a fan? It sounds very similar to a sound machine or fan. It sounds like a box fan, I guess.
Emma: I kind of want to listen to it now. Ok. And then mine. I don’t have as much of a backstory or anything. This is actually just kind of silly, but it does spark joy. So I recently got…I have a thrilling life. I recently got a new bathrobe. My last bathrobe was very worn out, had some weird stains and my husband kept making fun of it. He was like, you need to get rid of it. So I got a new bathrobe and I love it. It’s the kind that kind of feels like a towel. And if you’re not a robe person, I totally get it. But I really love a robe in the morning or whenever I take a shower and I’m letting my hair kind of air dry. I usually let my hair air dry. Most of the time, at least most of the way, I might like finish a little bit at the end with some heat. But I try not to use too much heat on my hair because I already curl it.
Elsie: Same.
Emma: Anyway, so I like to have a robe on when my hair’s drying because otherwise it gets my clothes wet, either my pajamas or my clothes for the day. And I don’t love that if my shoulders are wet, the rest of the day. So I wear the robe. Yeah. And I got this like kind of periwinkle purple color. It just looks good in our bathroom. We have like this mint green tile. And like these kind of blush pink towels. And it just kind of went. I bought it based on kind of what it went with in the bathroom. And then after I got it, my husband one day was kind of trolling me and he was wearing it around the house. But then I think he was just teasing me, basically. And then I think he realized…
Elsie: Hahaha.
Emma: …he kind of liked it. So then he kind of mentioned, maybe I should get a robe, you know? So I bought him the same robe, but like men’s size and I got him burnt orange because he loves the Texas Longhorns. And I did get these robes off Amazon, so I will link it. But I was thinking I might look up some other robes, too because I know some people don’t love Amazon, so I’ll link some other options, but I did get mine off Amazon just being honest. So there you have it.
Elsie: Thank you so much for listening this week. Thank you to everyone who has left us a review or shared it on Instagram. It means so much to us every Monday when we see you guys listening and posting about our podcast. Thank you.
Emma: Thank you.

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  • So…sock drawer in the kitchen isn’t so crazy…

    We have a family of four, all adult size feet. We keep all of our socks in baskets in a single IKEA Kallax shelf / bench unit on it’s side.

    Most of us go barefoot in the house, until we go out. So socks near the front door is perfect!!

  • Just finished listening on my walk and you’re spot on! I’ve been trying to cut down on buying new over the last few years, it is certainly easier with sites like Poshmark (current favorite) where you can narrow down exactly what you’re looking for without spending double or triple the time in a thrift store. I’m currently 14 months pregnant and I’m planning to shop my wardrobe (a lot of flowy tops and loose dresses, open button up shirts) but they are a few basics I do need like jeans and tanks. I was thrilled when I found out Madewell made maternity jeans, but I was even more thrilled to find a great selection on Poshmark for 50%+ off, also you can find more styles than are what currently available. Added bonus, most maternity clothes are in great shape because they’ve only been used for a few months! 🙂

  • These organized and decluttered spaces look so amazing. I love going through these amazing episodes.

  • I’m a Longhorn and Trey’s robe is basically the same color as a lot of the dresses girls wear to DKR stadium on game day, so I have to say it’s more burnt orange than dusty pink.

  • I still want to see your senior prom dress though…if it was worth keeping….must be special! Haha.

  • I also have a husband who needs a fan to sleep. I am ordering the white with gray accents sound machine you recommended since our ceiling fan in our bedroom is not working so well lately and needs to be replaced. Now I can search for a beautiful light fixture to take it’s place, and we will both be happier! Thanks

  • Your prom photo is giving me LIFE! Thanks for sharing! (only love here, not teasing)

  • I have always wanted to know that Elsie and Clea are friends. I’m so glad! I want an episode on kitchen open shelves! I know we’ll try it out eventually and want to know all the good tips.

  • Thanks for the shout out! So happy the Dohm is working its magic for you!

  • “The Curated Closet” can be found on both indiebound.org and bookshop.org: two organizations that support independent bookstores nationwide. Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s wealth are incredibly toxic and entirely avoidable. Please check out “Wealth Shown to Scale” if you have not already (https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/). If you’re going to start showing up for antiracist work, please also show up for socioeconomic work as they are intersectional.

    • We completely agree with you and are in the process of re-linking our books to IndieBound.

      • That’s great to hear. I urge you to consider avoiding Amazon links beyond books as well.

  • Super curious about your continued linking to Amazon, especially considering past dialogues about it in older posts.

  • decluttering is one of my favorite ways to self-care. my tips:
    ps. love the old prom dress peek 🙂

  • Loved today’s episode! Currently packing up our apartment to move to our very first house and so thanking myself for de-cluttering before our last move (only 6 months ago), it’s making moving sooo much easier this time around!
    And love the dress, Emma! I had a top in that same pattern that I remember wearing constantly!

  • Trey’s robe is clearly Ginger Spice, ha ha. I would have to side with burnt orange over dusty pink.

  • Oh gosh, the black and white prom dresses were SO popular when I went to prom as well! Epic throwback!

    Cathy, your Poor Little It Girl

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