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HOME/ Homemaking/ Organizing/ Simplifying

Documenting My Preteen’s Room Before Updating


We just updated my Avery’s room & I’m in awe of how time just keeps passing us by. I am eager to share the update with you, but before I do, I want to document what her room looked like BEFORE the update, when she was still a pre-teen.

I took these photos January 2015.  Avery requested a room makeover for Christmas so “Santa” brought her the new bedspread you see in the photos, the dot pillow, new containers for her shelves to hold all the things, a soft pink blanket to keep at the end of her bed, and the big furry prop up pillow you see her relaxing on. He also brought her the fuzzy robe you see hanging below, the blue side-table lamp, a soft new puppy with floppy ears, & even those fluffy socks you see on her little feet–that have grown a full size since these photos were taken!  She was really into cozy comfort those days and as you can tell, loves all the “soft, fuzzy, fluffy, furry & floppy” things.  She was delighted!

Her pile of Christmas gifts that year was huge, especially compared to her sister’s gift piles, who are both older so their Christmas gifts turn into Christmas GIFT–singular–like a new phone or a new guitar. If you don’t have teenagers, know that when you do their gift lists get much smaller but more expensive!

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HOME/ Homemaking/ Organizing/ Simplifying

Hot Spots In My Kitchen

Putting out hot spots and organization in my kitchen

{see the hotspot peaking out? Little do you know it is growing into a raging fire!}

Hot Spots

This past Saturday, I spent a couple of hours putting out ‘hot spots’ in my house. For this post, I will focus on the hot spots that were put out in my kitchen.  Are you wondering what a hot spot is?  I learned this term from Flylady, a home management site that I have been famiar with for years and whose language has become my own.  The Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays we have here every Tuesday at New Nostalgia? Well, the anti-procrastination word is another word I learned from Flylady.  I have been quite influenced by her and her wonderful site.

What is a Hot Spot?

A hot spot is an area of clutter that if left alone to simmer will turn into a huge pile of raging clutter & overtake the area. I call them my junk piles.  Not that they are always made of junk, but the items turn into junk and become almost unusable as the are buried while the hot spot grows.

The main hot spot in my kitchen is on this fun little window seat.  There is a corner that cannot be seen from the main door of the kitchen, so I stash stuff there, thinking I will put it away later. Well, “later” rarely comes. We all know clutter attracts clutter, so this pile grows and becomes a hot spot.

Before & After; Putting out hot spots and organization in my kitchen

{ahhh..the ‘after’ is so much better!}

The process of putting out the hotspot always ends up much easier than I think it will be, and these areas usually only take about 5 minutes, but I procrastinate because I think they are going to take longer. When I finally do get to it,  I like to set my timer and try to beat the clock.

Decluttering the kitchen

The silver chargers you see sitting out were used as part of a centerpiece I created for a conference I decorated for recently. They just needed put away, and their home is right under the bench. You can see the knob to open the bench for storing. This is not hard my friends! Why don’t I just put them away right away instead of laying them on the bench? Aye.

The grocery sacks were taken to the garage for recycling, the salad spinner was put away in a cupboard (which I did have to organize a bit to fit it in), the potatoes were taken from their bag & put into a basket, and the crockpot is stored on a shelf in our home office as my kitchen has limited storage. Done!

Putting out hot spots and organization in my kitchen

The next hot spot is my counter. I am trying to get into the habit of drying and putting the dishes away right away. These are dishes that don’t fit into the dishwasher and that I wash by hand. I love using this dish wand with dish soap in it…it makes washing the extra dishes a breeze!  I also love the ease of using a drying mat.  It is the only thing I store on top of my refrigerator to dry in between uses. I bought mine from Target. If you are an Amazon shopper, here is their best seller in Microfiber Dish Drying Mats on and if you buy it using this affiliate link you will be supporting New Nostalgia with no extra cost to you!

Putting out hot spots and organization in my kitchen

{ahhh…feeling so much better getting rid of those hot spots!}

Dealing with hotspots & spots of clutter

On to another hotspot right off my kitchen. This doorway is right across my kitchen sink and leads to the garage and the basement. Did you notice the grocery sacks took a break here on the way to the garage? All because of a hotspot that was in the way of the garage doorway, so I could not even open it to take them to the recycle bin. This is how hotspots work. They start small and you think it’s no big deal, but then they grow and create all kinds of inconvieince…like blocking doors!

The rest of that pile goes to the basement. Boxes, baskets and decor that I used for the conference that I mentioned before. It only took a few more steps to get them to the basement where they belong, so I need to get out of the habit of making this area a dropping place for items that go to the basement or garage and just take them there! Do. It. Now. That needs to be my new mantra when it comes to putting things away in areas that are prone to hotspots!

How to tackle kitchen drawer clutter

Our kitchen utensil drawer was a hotspot that needed a solution. I found that solution in a new organization system for our utensils , and it has been over a month and is still super organized.  I love it when systems work effortlessly and this one has for our family. Yay!

kitchen drawer organization system

{see this post for details on this Kitchen Drawer Organization}

The below image is looking in from our living room, through our dining room into our kitchen.  I love that it captured my Colsie and her Dad in the kitchen. It also captured another hot spot brewing in our living room…can you spot it? I wrote about it here: Hot Spots In Our Living Room.

Organizing hot spots

So what about you? Are hot spots a problem? Where are your main hot spots located?

Featured/ HOME/ Homemaking/ Simplifying

18 Things You Need To Throw Away

18 Things You Need To Throw Away

It is springtime, and while most people are getting their spring cleaning on, I find myself once again much more motivated to get rid of clutter, throw things away & organize.  I do not like to clean, but I love the feeling of organizing & minimalizing, and in order to really get things cleaned, I need to get the unnecessary out of the way & out of here!


Get Rid Of Clutter

There are 3 big things I have learned that motivates me to get rid of clutter.

~You Cannot Organize Clutter

~Clutter Attracts Clutter

~The More Items You Keep, The More Those Items Will Need From You. (putting them away, dusting them, fixing them when they break, etc)


Throw It Away


Old Magazines

Thanks to Pinterest, I don’t subscribe to many magazines anymore.  The few catalogs that come in the mail, keep in a round, shallow wooden bowl in my living room, to grab & read when I have a moment of slow living. I purposefully chose this container, as it will only hold a few magazines at a time, so it forces me to cull & recycle magazines before they pile up


These can pile up quickly and if not organized, can become expensive as buying duplicates can be pricey! Check the dates on medications & vitamins & dispose of them properly.

Receipts, Bills & Documents

Get the paper shredder out and get rid of out dates receipts & bills.  Something we do every day that really helps with this type of paper clutter is going through the mail shortly after it comes, throwing out what is trash & filing what isn’t.  My Todd gets credit for this daily habit.

School Papers

Now that my girls are all teenagers, we don’t have as many school papers as we did before, at least, the crafty kind.  I have a system in our home that works well for school papers. Each girl has a designated drawer in our home office desk. When I find my girls school papers laying around, I will gather them and put them in the drawer to whom they belong. That way I am not throwing away papers that need to be turned in.  My girls will go through their own paper drawers when they get full.  If you don’t have extra desk drawers, these stackable letter trays work well for this, too. You can use a labeler and put each child’s name on their letter tray.


I stopped keeping boxes “just in case I need them.” I used to keep them just in case I wanted to return the item, store the item or because the box could be used to wrap or mail a gift.  I have decided that living a minimal life means getting rid of a lot of things I usually would keep “just in case.” Boxes, no matter what size, take up way too much room to store just have them hanging around. I break them down and take them to recycling as soon as possible.

Extra Plant Pots

I have great plans every year to use up all my pots but have found that they just sit around, year after year.  I use a few large pots & got rid of all the small ones, including peat pots that I had good intentions to use, but always end up buying starter plants from the store instead of starting my own.  I let go of that ambition to keep life simple.

Pens in a mason Jar

Pens & Pencils

I have invested in some good quality pens and pencils, and keep them in just a couple of places in the house.  I find they last longer than cheap pens and are much more enjoyable to use.  There is something about a container of matching pens & pencils that just makes me happy! I keep a jar in our living room area where I like to sit and journal, a few in a kitchen drawer and the rest go in our home office.  I also keep a few in my purse.


We just had our kitchen remodeled and updated last summer, and it was a great opportunity to get rid of dishes.  Just like my pens and pencils, I am all about dishes that match.  No more cupboards full of unmatched cups, mugs, and glasses.  I buy square white dishes, use mason jars instead of plastic for food storage, and all other dishes & serving trays white and as simple as possible. These 16 oz goblet glasses are what we use for water now that we have teenagers, we do not have a need for unbreakable glasses or plastic.  This has made a huge difference in keeping our kitchen cupboards organized & even simplifies loading the dishwasher since everything matches and fits well.


If a whole season went by and you didn’t wear them, get rid of them! If you don’t love them, get rid of them.  If they only will go with a couple of outfits, get rid of them. You won’t believe how good it feels to donate unloved shoes to your local thrift store.

Nail Polish

I recently went through our bin of nail polish and was amazed to find how many had become thick & gloppy.  Some bottles were even empty & some we couldn’t get the lid off of.  It is so nice to just grab the bin and know the few colors left in it will actually open and go on smoothly.


We updated our basement & moved a couple of bookshelves.  In the process, we got rid of a bunch of unloved books.  Oh my, talk about freeing! I now have empty shelves to decorate with things that I love.  I was also amazed at what dust collectors books can be.  We all have Kindle Fire’s, so we only kept reference type books & some classics that we couldn’t bear to give away.  I noticed most of my cookbooks went, thanks to Pinterest I rarely use them.  I also gave away a bunch of gardening books for the same reason...Pinterest! Another huge hull–old piano books that my girls used for piano lessons when they were young.


I tackled my closet last week and got rid of 2 big bags of clothes.  Same rule for shoes applies here–if a whole season goes by and you don’t wear it, get rid of it.  I started working on a capsule wardrobe, & I’m really enjoying the simplicity of my closet, even if I’m not doing the whole capsule wardrobe perfectly yet, I’m already experiencing how great it is to take away excessive options of what to wear each day.


I recently came up with a new system of jewelry storage & got rid of all my out-dated jewelry. I will share with you soon how I store my jewelry.  It is a simple, non-perfect system that includes an egg carton and small cardboard bowls in a dresser drawer. It is not typical but it sure is working for me!

Makeup & Perfume

I am very minimal when it comes to makeup and all that I own can fit in one makeup bag. Yay! I recently went through all hair products, lotions, perfumes & essential oils and kept only that which is pure and that I use daily. Everything else I got rid of.


I used to buy so many notebooks when they went on sale during back-to-school time.  Not anymore. It is just extra clutter.


Don’t keep it unless you love it. If it was given to you and you want to remember it but don’t love it, take a picture of it. Did you child make it? Again, take a picture and make an album of their creations instead of keeping every single creation.

Old Electronics

These can sit and sit and collect dust. Updating our basement helped us get these moving, but we moved them upstairs and then they sat and collected more dust. Gotta get them out the door, not just moved around!

Home Decor

Minimalize, minimalize, minimalize! It is so easy to keep decor for years because you don’t even see it anymore as it has sat in the same place for so long.  Look at each item and think “is this worth the dusting that I have to do to it?” “Does this bring me joy?” “Does this make my home beautiful and warm?” “Is this item dated?”


I am sure there are many more things that one could throw away, but this list is a great start and has really helped me lately.  Our home is feeling more and more streamlined & simple, but I do have more work to do, especially when it comes to our craft closet, an upstairs desk, and our laundry room.  I am seeing progress, especially as I get rid of clutter instead of trying to organize clutter!


The More Of Less Book 


Want more inspiration to get rid of clutter and learn just how much purpose there is in doing so? Joshua Becker’s The More of Less is super inspiring and one of my favorite reads. Buy it on Amazon here.

What about you? Does clutter frustrate you? What are your clutter problem areas? Do you have a hard time throwing things away?

FAMILY/ HOME/ Kids/Family/ Simplifying

Everyday Family Dinner Buffet- Style

Dinner Served Buffet Style

{breakfast for dinner -local organic eggs, whole -wheat french toast, nitrate-free bacon & green smoothies }

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I am a big fan of serving up our everyday family dinners buffet- style.  It has been fun to share some pics of our simple family dinners with you. It sure is easy to quick grab my phone, snap an insta photo & post it. I get so much inspiration on Instagram and love having a place to gather and share our everyday moments.

Dinner Served Buffet Style

{kale & lentil salad with coconut bacon, coconut crusted chicken, mango dipping sauce & pineapple}

Serving Dinner

I don’t know about you, but setting the table can get old and monotonous, especially on busy nights where just getting a simple homemade dinner in the mouths of my loved ones is a feat in itself. I have 3 teenage girls who often are coming and going, even at dinnertime, so it is nice to just set out a stack of plates, utensils, & cups; then quick set out the food for each family member to help themselves.

Oftentimes we ARE able to sit at the table and eat together, and even on these nights, I still like to have everyone come in the kitchen to help themselves buffet-style, then carry their plate, fork, napkin and self-filled cup to the table.  I have a small glass table in our kitchen that is perfect for setting out food buffet-style, and a larger table in our dining room where we have room to sit and eat as a family.

Dinner Served Buffet Style

Why Serve Family Dinner Buffet-Style?

~it keeps food mess in the kitchen where I already need to clean up from making dinner

~I don’t have to carry food into our dining room

~I don’t have to set the table

~everyone is responsible for getting their own drink from the stack of cups

~there is no clearing the table, except for each person bringing their plate back into the kitchen when finished

~if we have to eat at different times as a family, the food is in the kitchen, ready to be reheated for whomever is arriving late

~it keeps condiments close to the refrigerator, easy to grab, set out & put away.

Dinner Served Buffet Style

{super simple noodles & sauce dinner–with a very naked salad! Super simple is ok!}

Keeping Dinner Simple, Efficient & Beautiful

I’m all about keeping life simple and doing my best to live slow, but when it comes to getting dinner made and my people fed, I become all about fast, although still try to keep it simple.  Really, efficient is a better word than fast, but I have become pretty fast at whipping up dinner!

There is certainly a time and place for making a great tablescape and slowly setting the table & presenting beautiful food for the ones you love; to pass & savor & enjoy.  But I find during the busy teenage years, for most of our dinners, simple & efficient is good enough.

I do still love beauty when it comes to presentation, so even when setting food out buffet-style, I will light a candle and place my utensils in a mason jar, use pretty napkins & put a vase of live eucalyptus or dried flowers out. These are things I have set out anyway, so it really takes no effort at all, and as you can see from the above photo, I’m still not above serving food out of the pan & saving myself from having to do extra dishes.  Even service from pans can be beautiful if served with love and a lit candle!


Doing Things In A Non-Traditional Way Is OK

Doing things in a non-traditional way is ok. Simple is ok. Breakfast for dinner is ok. Using prepared foods (like the pancake puffs above) is ok.  Serving from the pan is ok. Apples don’t have to be in cooked in a beautiful cinnamon sauce, just sliced and bare is ok. If you don’t have time for salad toppings, serving naked greens is a-ok!  Oftentimes, the more simple the food the more healthy it is.  A bowl of berries for dessert instead of berry crisp is easier, more simple and more healthy! I still love my berry desserts but tend to save them for the weekends while keeping things pretty pure and simple during the week.

Living simply for me is often a letting go of what is perfect or what I think the standard should be, and just being ok with what is.  Right now, what IS for our family right now is this…I’m running my girls around instead of making cinnamon caramel sauce for my apples, and that my friends, is ok!

Featured/ HOME/ Homemaking/ Organizing/ Simplifying

Best Kitchen Drawer Organization

kitchen drawer organization system

Kitchen drawer organization has been on my to-do list for quite a while now.  This past summer, we had a full kitchen update (posts coming soon!) and I have been so very happy with it! Everything works so much better now, but one area that quickly became a problem was my kitchen utensil drawer.

We only have 2 drawers in our kitchen, but thanks to the update they are now nice & wide drawers that give us lots of drawer space.  I keep utensils in one and kitchen towels and knives in the other.

The drawer with the utensils is the one I will focus on today.


As you can see, we were just throwing all utensils in there and it became almost impossible to close the drawer. Even the rubber mat that was supposed to be under all of those utensils was all bunched up. It was driving me nuts!

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HOME/ Homemaking/ Organizing/ Simplifying

Hot Spots In Our Living Room


What’s A Hot Spot?

I found the term ‘hot spot’ from a website that helps you clean and declutter your home, called Flylady.  She describes a “Hot Spot” as a place that attracts clutter.  You know the areas in your home that do this…usually, they are flat open surfaces like a countertop, chair, table top, or can even be the floor…places we put things instead of putting them away.  We all know clutter attracts clutter, so the more things we put there the more things get put there. In time, your hot spot can turn into a wildfire, one that is raging out of control and becomes a huge spot of clutter that eventually takes over the whole surface.

Last Saturday I was feeling like Hot Spots were taken over our home.  I was determined to do something about it, so instead of allowing myself to clean, I decided to tackle my hotspots.  I grabbed my camera to document the process for you, and will share my hotspots with you and hopefully motivate you to put out your own hotspots before they become raging fires!


My Living Room & Dining Room are connected and are the first things you see when you enter our home.  Because of this, I usually keep these rooms picked up and clutter free.  I have spent time minimalizing our Living Room, so we are at the point where this room really doesn’t have clutter in it.

The one area that can tend to attract clutter is the ledge in the above picture.  It is an area that separates the Living Room from the Dining Room and is just an easy place right in the center of our home to leave items that eventually turn into clutter.

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HOME/ Organizing/ Simplifying/ Sponsored

Organize Your Phone In 10 Easy Steps


I get bitten by the organization bug much harder in the fall than in the spring.  The cool, crisp fall weather makes me want to just hunker down in a cozy home, and there is no cozy if there is clutter!  I love sitting under a warm blanket with a fall scented candle lit, scrolling through my phone and doing all the things our amazing phones do these days! I was doing this just the other day, about to instagram my yummy cup of Pumpkin Spiced Chai Latte, but, then…in the midst of my insta moment…the annoying ‘out of storage’ screen pops up.

How many of you have gone to take a photo with your phone, only to get the dreaded little screen that pops up letting you know that you are out of storage?  Ugh, this has happened to me so many times!  Well, no more. It is time for some fall organization of my phone, starting with photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive



Phone Organization

Step One:

Get photos off my phone and onto the cloud with Amazon Cloud Drive.

Todd and I have been Amazon Prime members for a few years now, and love it. The free 2-day shipping is great, and we also love Amazon Prime Video. What we didn’t know until recently that if you are a prime member, you already have access to Amazon Cloud Drive with Prime Photos, which provides unlimited, secure photo storage as part of your Prime membership!

I was very excited about the unlimited photo storage, especially when I found out there is a handy Amazon Photo App for my phone.  What this means for me is any photo that I take with my iPhone can easily be stored in Amazon Cloud Drive. This can be done by setting it to automatically store every photo you take, or choosing them manually.  I no longer have to take up precious space on my phone and see that dreaded warning screen telling me that I have no space left to take another photo!


As a blogger, this is especially exciting.  I take most of my blog photos with my phone, and before discovering Amazon Cloud Drive I had over 2,000 photos on my phone! Many of them were photos taken for my blog, some I had already used, and some I had not. They are were all screaming to be organized! I had access to another type cloud storage, but it is also being used by my whole family and all of their devices, and is one that is not unlimited, so it stressed me out to upload all my many blog photos to that specific cloud storage.

I plan on using Amazon Cloud Drive for my own personal iPhone photos, my Kindle photos, and my personal laptop photos, paying specific attention to my blog photos.  I can’t believe I will finally have all of my blog photos in one spot, accessible from all devices. Talk about Fall Organization! This is something I have desired for a long time.  Once I get all of my personal & blog photos organized, I will then see to the rest of my family’s photos, which will probably end up on Amazon Cloud Drive, too, since it is unlimited!

Don’t have Amazon Prime?  No worries, I will explain at the end of this post some amazing deals offered for you from Amazon Cloud Drive for non-prime members.

Now that photos are off of my phone and I have freed up a ton of storage space, I can organize the rest of my phone.


{my sweet screensaver…can’t believe they are teenagers now!}

Step Two:

Update Apps

I had not been able to update my apps due to lack of…yep…storage space.  Now I can! I had 37 updates just waiting there for me, and now my phone will work with efficiency.


Step Three:

Voicemails –Listen to & delete all voicemails.  I had listened to all of mine, but had not deleted them.  They were starting to pile up!  I also went in my settings and set them to automatically delete after a certain period of time.


Step Four:

Messages — Read, respond to, & delete all messages


Step Five:

Voxer –(I’m assuming you all have and love this app as much as I do) I listened to and deleted all old messages (these were taking up a ton of space!) I use this awesome walkie-talkie type message app everyday.  It makes driving in the car so much more fun when I am alone. I blab to friends or listen to my messages and just love how it turns car time into connecting time!


Step Six:

Reminders–I took a quick peek at all of my reminders and clicked off items that were finished, and deleted lists that were outdated.


 Step Seven:

Frequently Used Apps –I put frequently used apps on front home screen.  This is my personal preference, then I use folders on the second home screen. There are several ways to organize apps.  Some like to do it according to color, some like to alphabetize them.  On my front page I do a combination of color and type.


 Step Eight:

App Folders–organize rest of apps in folders on 2nd home screen.  I saw a great idea online recently where you organize according to action word:

~look up (yelp, contacts, safari, contacts, weather)

~listen (music, spotify)

~talk (message, FaceTime, ichat)

~shop (amazon, walgreens, iTunes)

~share (snapchat, twitter, vine, periscope)

~photograph (photos, instagram, Amazon Cloud Drive)

~navigate (maps, around me)

~read (amazon reading app, mashable, Bloglovin’)


Step Nine:

Contacts–Go through contacts and update information.


Step Ten:

Notes – clear out notes. Delete unwanted,  file the rest into Evernote


Oh my goodness I can’t tell you how much better using my newly organized phone is!

What made the biggest difference is dealing with my boatload of photos.  It took quite awhile to move over 2,000 pictures using the Amazon Cloud App, but that was to be expected with so many photos.  Now that the bulk of my photos are moved over, doing just a month at a time is super fast.  I find myself keeping about a week’s worth of photos on my phone, as I like to share them on social sites like instagram, so that gives me some time to do just that while still staying organized and on top of my photos.


Want to know more about Amazon Cloud Drive?

Photos and files can be shared via private links from within the Amazon Photo app or by selecting a folder or file to be shared using the web interface on your computer.  Love that! This would be super useful for holidays or vacations, to share with your friends and family.

If you are already a prime member, you have access to Amazon Cloud Drive with Prime Photos, which provides unlimited photo storage as part of your Prime membership. In addition, Prime members get 5 GB of additional storage space for videos, movies, music, and files.

If you are not, Amazon recently announced two unlimited storage plans, both start with a free 3-month trial:

  • Unlimited Everything Plan ($59.99 per year—equivalent of less than $5 per month): Store an infinite number of new and existing photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive.
  • Unlimited Photos Plan ($11.99 per year—equivalent of less than $1 per month): Similar to the Prime member benefit – non Prime members can also store an infinite number of photos in Cloud Drive without worrying about taking up space on phones, cameras, or other devices. This plan also includes 5 GB of additional storage for videos or other documents and files.


What about you? Do you store your photos in the cloud? Do you find yourself annoyed when your phone photos take up all your storage space?  Do you have any more phone organization tips for me?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.