Wednesday, January 9, 2019

141 Catching Up and a Hello to 2019!

Happy New Year to you! I hope that the holidays have left you with a full love tank and that your 2019 is off to an incredible start!

Oh, how I have missed you all so very much!



It always feels a little awkward coming back from an extended break, especially when they are unplanned and much longer than ever anticipated.

Truth be told I have always had huge goals and amazing intentions for this small slice of the internet, but 2018 just wasn't meant to be my year (again, womp womp). For someone who is generally an energetic go-getter, learning to navigate the past few years has been a true personal challenge and journey. And having to do it online has been flat out tough, especially when I am trying to walk the line of personal and professional in front of an audience. If I have learned anything, it's that no matter how much you plan, life can change those plans in an instant. And as a self-proclaimed planning obsessed girl, that has been a hard pill to swallow.

I am not 100% ready to dive into my absence, although I hope to someday down the road. Just know that your support is deeply cherished and I appreciate those of you who continue to check-in. The outpouring of love, comments, emails, DM's, etc, has been so overwhelming over the past couple of months, and for that, I am eternally grateful. They continue to uplift and encourage and I truly hope that THIS IS THE YEAR that I can give that back to you.




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I have a few things to cover since I have been away, so let's begin with Christmas decor storage.


I have never been a minimalist by any means and I truly enjoy layering our home with our character and personality. At the same time, I am making 2019 the year to reduce and streamline. This last Christmas I only put up a fraction of our decor, and I noticed that our time entertaining and enjoying the holidays wasn't at all negatively impacted. I also appreciated that it took much less time to pack everything up this past weekend! Keeping it understated was refreshing and allowed me to focus on what really mattered most to me, and it was also the most relaxed I have been during the holiday season in years. I definitely need to continue to remember this and apply that understanding to more areas of my life this coming year!

I know some of you probably had your decor packed up December 26th, but for those of you who extend the season and enjoy the layers a little longer, I thought I would share my top Christmas decor storage tips (a refresh of this post here). And if you already have everything packed away, tuck these tips in your pocket for next year (or give your bins a quick remix when the mood strikes).

CLEAR STORAGE BINS

For so many years I selected solid bins because I didn't like the visual clutter that generally comes with the clear versions. A few years ago I decided to give clear bins a whirl (I love these) and it really has been so helpful! I appreciate that I can get a quick idea of the contents without having to do any rummaging or digging.

LABEL


Even though the bins are clear, and some of the contents are simple and obvious, other bins still have a mixture of items such as ornaments, embellishments for different trees, stockings, garland varieties, books, wreaths, ribbon, tree skirts, lights, etc... Therefore, labels can help to differentiate categories and assign items/bins to specific areas of the house. This year I updated my labels to an editable version, that way I can just type the contents, print them out and slide them into the label sleeve attached to the front of the bins. I saved my labels to my computer to easily edit and reprint down the road if needed. You can download the editable label printable for free here.


CATEGORIZE


Make the most of your bins and divide them out in a way that makes the most sense for how you decorate. Zippered storage bags work really well to corral and categorize smaller items like ornament hooks, ribbon, beads, special ornaments, replacement bulbs, light clips, stocking and wreath hooks, etc...

THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

Are there other items that you only use during the holidays? Specific items for entertaining or baking or cooking? Maybe you use certain pillows, candles, appliances and serving platters for a month or two out of the entire year. If your storage is limited around the house, don't give those seasonal items prime real estate with your day-to-day belongings. Instead, pack those pieces away with the remainder of your Christmas decor.

TIS' THE SEASON TO CLEANSE

This is the best time of the year to streamline your Christmas inventory. While packing everything up, take the time to recategorize your bins and eliminate the items that didn't make the cut this past year. Handle each object and ask yourself if it is worth your time, space and energy moving forward. Also discard any items that are broken, torn or worn.

Donation Ideas:

  • Drop off your gently used holiday decor at your local donation center (Salvation Army, Locally Owned Thrift Stores, Goodwill, etc...)
  • Check with your local Habitat Restore, some do holiday-specific sales throughout the year.
  • Inquire with local shelters to see if and when they typically accept holiday decor, and what specific items are most beneficial.
  • Does your city decorate for the holidays? Think of areas around town that put up Christmas trees or string lights that may benefit from the items you no longer have a use for. Libraries, hospitals, community centers, etc...
  • Have you heard of Give Back Box? I recently read about this donation program and I love it! It really emphasizes the one-in-one-out rule, but can be used beyond that method! When you receive merchandise in the mail from select retailers, you can reuse that box along with a free shipping label to donate your household goods and clothing items. Give Back Box selects a charity based on your location, however, there are ways to select your own if you wish. Christmas decor is accepted, so pack up a box and ship it on out!

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Remember last year I flocked our artificial tree? I promised to give you an update on how it held up through storage and I am happy to share it did really well. I have noticed that flocked trees will shed no matter if you DIY or purchase them that way, and ours did drop some flocking during setup and decorating. However, not enough to notice on the tree itself, and minimally throughout the time that it was up. I am excited to try the flocking process again down the road on some garland and outdoor topiaries, and I love that I can always easily add more to the tree over the years as necessary with the remaining flocking powder.

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If you are looking for a couple of idea-inducing reads for the New Year, I contributed to two publications on newsstands now:


Inside this month's issue of Parent's Magazine, we focussed on Little Ways to Love Your Home.




While inside the Family Circle issue you will find a great section dedicated to making the most of your home's hot spot: The Kitchen! So many great suggestions in this one!

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In other iHeart news, 2019 planners were released in my shop last month and I get so much joy filling in the colorful pages for the new year. I am thrilled to see that you do too!



The FAQ page is loaded with details on the sizes, layouts, coversheets, printing suggestions, and images. The pages are fresh and beautiful and seeing them being used by you all throughout the year is a true treat, so thank you for Instagramming and sharing those images with me.

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This time of the year is generally known for starting fresh and setting goals and organizing every nook and cranny of your home. I have had a few conversations with friends and they have mentioned that the new year gets so built up that they feel like once the clock hits midnight, they should have this automatic boost of energy, and that when they wake up they should feel some sort of magical feeling and clear vision for what is to come to finally get their lives together. So. Much. Pressure.

While I personally do love that the new year is a great benchmark for setting goals and reflecting and evoking change, I want to remind you all (and myself), that lifestyle changes are gradual and don't happen overnight, and all big things come from a culmination of smaller steps. It's great to set goals and be fired up, but also be realistic and break those goals up throughout the year. Think of little changes that you can make each day that will help you reach a larger goal by next month, next quarter, or even by the end of 2019. That is how I am personally approaching this year; day by day, bit by bit. It doesn't all have to be done by the end of January.

I am still wearing a lot of hats, and aside from trying to be an involved and loving wife and mom, I have a lot of business-centric goals that include updating and organizing my website (and a new home tour!), moving my online shop and adding fresh new items, working with clients (best feeling), and writing a book (big goal). Pair that with the administrative responsibilities of running a business, freelance writing, creating content and sharing it actively on social media, I get a little overwhelmed managing it all and managing it well. When I work on a project, I get so hyperfocused on that one specific thing, that it can take away from all the rest. Sometimes the blog takes a hit, sometimes my personal goals take a hit, sometimes my family takes a hit, sometimes my shop takes a hit. I can organize a closet no problem, but maybe I need to find someone to organize my life (ha!). Time management, prioritization, and balance are all my personal top priorities for 2019. Some things will have to move to the bottom of the list so I can actually do the more important things. And this is that moment where it all rounds right back to my small steps towards the big goal mantra.




I don't want to drag this post out any longer, but a few final notes about our year to come:


  • Last year we didn't focus a lot of attention on our own home or projects. I am approaching my 10th year of blogging and that is a LOT of organizing, crafting and remodeling. We simply needed a break, even if we still have a lot of wish list updates to make, going at it around the clock is exhausting, expensive and disruptive. It was time to let things rest, and we did. Buuuut, our oldest is graduating high school this year!!!!!! He is receiving college acceptance letters and about to spread his wings and I am holding back tears of joy (and let's be real, tears of selfish sadness) on the daily. With graduation comes a graduation party and a big party is a great motivator to check lingering home tasks off of the list, as well as a lot of deep cleaning. Time to relight that fire!

  • How do you all feel about doing a home cleanse with me this year? I really wanted to do this last year, so the past few months I began researching and building a really great resource of ways to clear clutter from your homes. It always pains me a bit to see how piles of trash bags can so quickly be associated with organizing, so I am diving deep into options for feeling less guilty about getting rid of our belongings. And I would really love for it to become a library that can be referenced and built-upon over time. You in?

  • I don't have a lot of closets or drawers left to organize around here, this year my biggest pain points are PAPER (I have a plan!) and photographs (I don't have a plan!). What are your biggest organizational pain points? Knowing your problem areas could really help me come up with new content, so if you could take a quick second to leave a comment on this post with your organizing goals and struggles, I would appreciate it to the moon and back!


Let's raise a glass of wine, a coffee filled mug, or a bottle of water, and cheers to 2019!



P.S. I just went back a re-read my intro to 2018 post. Wow. Sounds like I am rewriting history and even mimicking a few of the same sentences word for word, nodding and still feeling a lot of the things that I felt last year. Believe me when I say that as frustrating as that is for me, I know it is also frustrating for you. Please know that I never take you all for granted and I really hope to break the cycle. There are definitely some things I need to change, and I appreciate your continuous grace as I work on bettering things around here. 

141 comments:

  1. Thanks for the new year post! Never feel self conscious to "do you"!... that is part of my self talk for the year. Also at your request, here are some of my organizing goals for 2019: definitely moving my paper organizing forward and working more with my family archiving and photos. Other organizing goals include cleaning - working in a new reality that I no longer have babies or pre-schoolers to consider which makes so much difference in how my time can be managed.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your goals, Teresa! Sounds like we are both on the same page with our upcoming projects! ☺️

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  2. So happy to hear from you! I'm glad you seem to be well. :) Happy New Year!

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  3. Yay!!! So glad to see you back, Jen! Here's to a peaceful, smooth, organized, SANE 2019!!! :-) Your wishes for your year sound a lot like mine! Here we go!

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  4. I’m so happy to ‘see’ you again! I did a happy squeal when I saw your post!
    Purging my home is a huge goal for 2019. I had a couple of work projects that no longer look like they will come through, so I’m ready to do what I’ve been longing to do....get rid of stuff!

    Also, I would so buy your book! I hope you get that dream done.

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    1. You are so sweet, thank you Annie! And best of luck with purging your home this year! I am cheering you on and excited to do it with you!! 😘

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  5. I'm just so happy to hear your 'voice' in this space again, and will patiently wait for the next time! Also, I'm over here bawling about P & J and this whole college thing!!!! Love you so much, friend!!

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  6. So happy you are back! Need the motivation to do a deep clean and de-clutter of our new house - and make it ours. Cara

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  7. So happy you're back I have been checking regularly but got a blogloving notification in my email this morning and did a little squeal of joy. I have read your blog (and Hi Sugarplum) for years from the UK and find your tips and hints absolutely fantastic, please continue! Looking forward to great content in 2019!

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  8. Many years ago we bought and read a little paperback book called "Clear your home from clutter" because we were then, clutterbugs. Over the years we have bought (and got rid of!) furniture and containers to put stuff in. But eventually, we are nearly a clutterfree home. Actually, the last chapter of the book informed the reader that if you home was clutter free, then you would feel better about life - so really it was a forerunner to all those self help books about "wellness" before the word was invented! Our tip? Keep a bag or box near the door, and into that pop clothes direct from the dryer or clothes line that you no longer want. Shoes you do not want. Books you have read. Gifts that don't suit. Take to a charity shop when full. Repeat. Happy New Year!

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    1. I couldn't agree more! Clutter can really hold us back and impact our wellness. I also love the tip about keeping a ready-to-donate bin; we use one as well and it has really helped us keep excess belongings at bay.

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  9. It made my heart so happy to see a new post from you! Congratulations on your recent publications. (I actually just read both of those magazines recently!) Best wishes as you continue to determine what course is best for you to focus on, one step at a time.
    I feel like there are so many things I *want* to do (or that I think I want to do)- this creative outlet, that creative outlet, etc. on top of my regular job and family- but when it comes down to it, I'm simply not prioritizing the extras because I crave that margin in my life for rest or downtime. I struggle a little with guilt over it because I want to do all the things (!) but I'm trying to recognize that it's OK in this season to not pursue everything all at once. I get the sense that you may be feeling the same way. Please don't feel guilty. What you do share is a gift, and the expectations of others- real or perceived- are not as important as what you personally value. Happy New Year. <3

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    1. Love that you said that, and it is great advice. "The expectations of others - real or perceived - are not as important as what you personally value." I need to repeat that to myself daily, because the people pleaser in me can really skew that wonderful advice. Thank you!!

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  10. So glad you are back! I hope 2019 is easier and we.can hear your wisdom a lot more.

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  11. Dear Jen,
    Glad you are back. I look forward to any and all posts on paper and photos. Egads.
    Happy New Year,
    Lauralou

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  12. Yay...so happy you’re back Jen, happy new year!!

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  13. Great post! Especially like the Give Back Box idea. I live in a big city with no car so donating is a real pain. Have a great 2019!

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  14. Oh i was so excited to see this post! Here's to 2019!

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  15. Amen to all of this sista! I love my home and love minimalism but in my own little way where i still have things to layer in my home

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  16. As an adjunct college instructor, I travel between several campuses. I don't have a permanent desk space at any campus--just a file drawer; therefore, I carry my supplies, books, materials, etc. in my car (which acts as my professional office). In the new year I want to create a better organizational system for all of those things. In addition, of course, I need to carry an emergency kit in my trunk for the blusterious Pennsylvania winters. That's my goal!

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    1. Thirty-One has a zip-top organizing tote that I use as a mobile office. I put a plastic hanging-file box in it. I have room for files, a couple books, and all the exterior pockets hold whatever I need them to, from pens, to a waterbottle, to my phone. If I remember right, its the updated version of the bag that Jen shared she uses as a mobile organizing station.

      And PSA, I'm in no way a Thirty-One consultant, just a huge fan of that particular bag!

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  17. Hi Jen, I think of your blog often as it was one of the first I ever followed ... with great love, admiration and a whole lot of jealousy! So lovely to hear from you again but don't ever feel pressured to write. We will always be here. Hey, while I have you ... please tell me (or blog about it!) how to create an editable PDF without the end user having to have all sorts of crazy software. I will love you forever if you could share. Happy New Year to you and your beautiful boys/man. x

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. :)

      For my editable docs, I first design the form (typically using Publisher or Pages), then convert it to a PDF. I open the PDF with Adobe Acrobat which allows me to add the editable fields.

      Happy New Year to you as well.

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    2. Oh excellent - thank you so much. I'm going to try that now! Nikki xxx

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  18. So glad you checked in. I certainly hope all is well.

    I am still tweaking small areas of our home. With a kitchen makeover on the horizon, I am committed to making every square inch of our small hub work more efficiently.

    I'd love to revamp my blog, but don't know the best resources. Any tips?

    My mantra for the year is, "Good things are constantly happening to me."
    Best wishes to you and yours.

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    1. I am still researching blog changes myself, I have heard so many good and not-so-good things about switching to wordpress so I am trying to look at all of my options. Once I get things narrowed down, maybe I will throw together a post with my findings.

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  19. I'd love to hear what ideas you have for organizing photos. I have tubs of them and they are taking up massive amounts of real estate. It seems so daunting....

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  20. Glad to see you are back lovely, adore reading your posts but totally understand how life just gets so busy and overwhelming. Hope you find you balance this year and goodness me, how tall are those boys of yours these days !!!

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    1. They are so tall (well, for our family anyway)! :D My youngest only has an inch or two to go to and he will be my height!

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  21. Your blog is such a beautiful and refreshing little space on the internet! And although you are an amazing influencer you have to take care of YOU and YOURS first! And I'm sure all of your loyal readers will understand that taking a step back now and then is just something you have to do for you, whatever that reason may be. I hope you have an amazing New Year! <3

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  22. Marie Konmari's book helped me declutter the most. Her new show in Netflix is motivational, too. Good luck! It's a lot of work but it makes you feel so good!

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  23. This year I am working to purge the entire house room by room. Streamlining and organizing as I go. I also want to finish rooms. Simple things I just haven't done... new curtains, curtain rods, artwork etc. Happy you are back!

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    1. We are in this together! I have soooo many tasks on my room-finishing lists! :)

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  24. Hi! So exciting to see „you“ in my letterbox. Time to celebrate! Love to hear and learn from you. Keep well! Debs

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  25. Glad to see you back! This has always been one of my favorite blogs. Yes, to paper organization!!! It's on my to-do list for today to go through 3 huge piles of paper, but I just know that even if I get done with that I'll have similar piles months from now. Photos are always an issue for me too, but I mostly know what needs to be done for that--it just takes time to actually get it done.

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    1. I'm excited that so many of you are hoping to check those two big things off of your lists too!

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  26. Great to hear from you! I understand that blogging involves a lot and that other things come first, as they should. I always love reading your posts but I do not 'expect' them so please know there is no pressure from me. Thanks so much for all you do. And I too have a son graduating HS this year. We can cry together.

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  27. I am so happy to see you are back! My organization pain points are the ones you mentioned, paper and photos. Looking forward to hearing more from you on these topics. :)

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  28. So happy to get a post from you again!! I decluttered my entire home last year, and would LOVE to do it along with you this year again. I have actually already drawn up a roster for each room and which room per month, LOL. My biggest headache is my children's toys... Try as I may I just CANNOT get things organised. Or if I do, they cannot keep it that way. They have LOADS of Legos and Barbie's with accessories. HOW ON EARTH do I organise this in a way that they can keep it that way. Ages 3 and 6, HELP!!!

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  29. Welcome back! I've been watching Marie Kondo on netflix, and hoping to see what you make of her, and how your organizational styles mesh? I see a lot of similarities! "This does not bring me joy!" has been proclaimed a lot in my house over the last week or so!

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    1. So many things I love and a lot of great tips sprinkled throughout! I think it would be a fun post topic to cover. :)

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  30. I'm looking forward to 2019 and appreciate your always helpful advice and organizing suggestions.
    Karen

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  31. Dear Jennifer,

    So happy to hear that you are alive and kicking. Really.

    If it helps to you - I started writing multiple "resolutions" around autumn regarding all the hats I am wearing - my health, studies, work, family, home, properties et cetera.

    But then I saw they all come down to the same meandering line, follow the same wish-want list, so my "the Resolution" around the New Year in all aspects of life on conceptual level is:

    + keep the functional, uplifting things, habits, projects, ideas, beliefs I have gradually accumulated within last decades and especially in last few years (and get rid of those above mentioned aspects that are more like due to the habit - they were functional once, but now they are useless or even harmful).

    Recognize them.

    *health - what self-maintenance (sleep - daily physical exercises - eating habits - socializing) I need in order to be in good health with head, capable of learning when I need it.

    * in studies - value the progress I have made and just keep going, self-disciplining and giving my own feedback instead of waiting for others to inspire, pat on the head and so on (oh, how difficult it is for me to love the pain of learning something completely new in limited time frame. I have grown accustomed to be in charge and being "the person who knows best" in last decade).

    * work - keep blocking time each week beforehand for preparing for my meetings and lectures, avoid all-nighters. Learned from you, Jennifer. Thank your!

    * family – same old story. Some communication is productive, another – not so much. Old disagreements, out of habit, not necessity. Lovely moments of mutual understanding. Reduce first ones, enable second ones.

    * home – oh, the easiest and most difficult part, because this is tangible, at least. Probably it reflects my personality, the mix of necessary and outdated excess.

    Lot of books, they have sentimental value, function as safety blanket and I have avid reading habit. So difficult to get rid of them, but it is either me or books. Sorting each week at least one shelf seems to be working so far – gradual approximation. Clothes – I am still in some ways my 15-year old self with very limited wardrobe and no means to obtain new one; I have ingrained doubts regarding purchase anything new when I need it, if I will throw out something I do not need right now. But.. that’s outdated belief, not a fact. So – once again, I am giving a lot to local Goodwill, once a week.

    * properties – legislation. Reading laws and latest regulations instead of watching soap-operas, no matter how entertaining.

    I have written not so much detailed plans and tasks I must do (and then feel down and terrible for failing to meet my own expectations), but more like road-marks, affirmations that show direction of my life and I consult them daily (morning and evening), to remember what it is I really want in my life.
    Especially, when I am tired, hungry, lack sleep and I am ready to rely to my habit.

    Music helps me, a lot. To get in the necessary mind-frame.

    I wrote as much for myself, as much for you. I do hope something from what I have written will help you in your daily life.

    All the best,
    Kitija

    P.S. Even if you are updating once in three-four months - it is great! Thank you for keeping the site running!
    Your blog is such an immense source of real-life problems/challenges and possibilities of solving them, that I have used it and recommended to my friends. And I will keep doing it!

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    1. I love all of this so much, Kitija! Thank you for taking the time to share it with me/us. I appreciate that you have done a lot of reflecting and that you are grooming the healthy habits with positive reinforcement. Happy New Year!

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  32. You bring a little ray of sunshine whenever you post! Thank you! Working toward a regular cleaning and decluttering schedule here. I tend to be hot or cold, but working toward consistency.

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  33. Seeing this post made me so happy! I am also planning to make this year the year I clear clutter from my home, I've started but the part that seems most daunting to me are papers and photos, so I'll be following you blog very closely.
    Happy New Year!

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  34. YES, to the home cleanse. I am trying to minimize clutter and adjust to a more minimalist approach to my home and life. I think excess clutter definitely impacts state of mind.
    P.S. So glad to see this post!!

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  35. A "home cleanse" sounds fantastic! I'm finally doing a real KonMari around here and already diving in. We don't have too much stuff or space but it all can get overwhelming so quickly! So glad to have you back!!

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  36. Oh I was SO happy to see a new post here! I understand your taking a break when needed, none of us could function without breaks here and there and I'm sure blogging takes a toll! Love any post you publish whenever you have time to do so! Please don't be down on yourself for not publishing for a while, life happens and we will be here when you pop in! Also, I would love to do a home cleanse program with you!

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  37. So happy that you are back and thank you for keeping it real! I have been discouraged by so many bloggers lately because they try to portray the perfect life (which we all know does not exist). Whatever your reasons are for taking a break, I applaud you for knowing you needed one and taking care of you. This is my year to get rid of clutter too, and yes to managing PAPER!!

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  38. I am neck deep in organizing photos for our WHOLE family!!! It is my life-project to have beautiful albums for the trunk and main branches of our family tree. 1800's - 2019

    I tackle a little bit each week and love every second!

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    1. Oh my gosh, you are my hero! ;) I bet it's been so much fun to go through so much history and I am sure your family will be eternally grateful!

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  39. Missed you and glad to have you back! I need a home cleanse, so I am in! My problem areas are PHOTOS and kitchen stuff. I have a "dishue" (dish issue)--a weakness for plates, bowls, etc. Love the Christmas decor tips. I take all of mine down and lay them out in the basement and try to keep only what I love. I need the smaller, clear bins. So much easier to store and handle and haul up the stairs! LOL.

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  40. Had just thought that I hadn't seen a post in a long time and boom, there you are. My focus this year is on de-cluttering and downsizing, I can be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to gift boxes & bags, baskets and jars, but after moving my parents to assisted living from a 2000 square foot home, I am determined not to leave my kids with stuff to get rid of. So, is it useful and pleasing or am I hanging on, just to hang on? I'm breathing easier already.

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  41. Awww...Jen, I missed you and your posts so much this past year when I saw the email in my inbox I felt so happy! I look forward to the new year and your 2019 posts! I'm game for a challenge to do a home cleanse, although my home is quite small. I have a few organizing projects to tackle in the new year (including a task to create a more organized pantry) and love your inspiration. Bring on 2019!

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  42. Paper and photos for me too. The rest looks pretty good. I am a pretty organized person, but paper and photos I can't get a handle on. I look forward to seeing how you tackle that!!!

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    1. Sounds like you are not alone! They both take time and are constantly coming in so working on back-log and also keeping up on the new stuff can be an uphill battle! Cheers to taking steps to tackle it in 2019!

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  43. Yes, I would absolutely love some guidance on a major house purge this year! I did a pretty good job on my closet in the fall, but I need a plan (and motivation) for the whole house. I also want to say that you should not feel any pressure to share personal information or even apologize for your absence. We appreciate knowing that you are okay, but nothing beyond that. I would also encourage you to cut yourself some slack regarding goals for 2019 looking a lot like goals for 2018. The same is true for me in my job - every single year a bunch of stuff that I never got to gets carried forward onto next year's list. It's ok, and I am guessing it is pretty common. This is how life goes. You are a smart, creative person who is contributing lots of great things to the world. It just so happens that your job makes you more visible than most. I hope that 2019 brings great things your way.

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  44. Welcome Back Jen! Know you were missed. I would be all in for the home cleanse.

    My pain points are toys, toys, and more toys. If you could go back and tell your "mom-of-littles" self (mine are 8,8, 6, 3) how to balance the stress over managing all their stuff, what would you say? How much time, money, and energy would you invest in creating systems to keep things organized? I swing back and forth between "we need to purge all the things" and "purging is so stressful. lets just keep everything and know that someday it will go - even though that means we have to manage it all now". What is the balance?

    What I would really love is if you could look back at some of your "kid-stuff" related posts from 5 or more years ago and say whether you still agree with those systems or if time has given you a new perspective on the managing of kid stuff. Does that make sense?

    Same for Kid's school papers.

    Can't wait to see what this year brings for you and your slice of the internet :)

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    1. Brilliant suggestion! I will definitely add kids/toys/lessons learned to my list. Organizing toys and for kids was always my favorite kind of organizing and I have been missing it. :D

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    2. Oh I love this idea. I go back and forth on this also. With one kid already in her teens, I see how short the stage of loving all the toys really is. It makes me reluctant to make my younger kiddo purge too much, because she really does seem to love and play with it all, and I know this stage won't last forever. But at the same time, her room is very small and overflowing with stuff. It is a balance, I guess, and I'd love to hear your thoughts looking back on it all.

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  45. So happy to see you in my inbox this morning!!

    Paper, piles of it, clutter my brain and surface areas. I would love some direction in that.

    Wishing you much health and happiness in the New Year!!
    Elizabeth

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  46. I was so happy to see your post this morning. It made me pause, refill my coffee cup and SIT down on the couch and read, with a big smile. (Thanks for the excuse to sit down). I’m so IN on the photo organization and paper clutter! Bring it on, let’s do this! However, don’t feel pressure, enjoy those babies and only start up when you’re feeling the energy and excitement 100% to get back on the blog. ❤️

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  47. So glad to hear you're ready to give this another roll - I had wondered if you were okay, but didn't want to pry!
    I love the idea of a cleanse!
    & My biggest problem area: that one drawer where everything ends up. I know you've talked in the past about organizing drawers; I more need to figure out how to stop putting things there! :)

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    1. Try using drawer organizers that fill the entire space in the drawer (if you can find some that fill the height of the drawer, that is even better). I find they typically cause a pause-and-think reaction, especially when trying to toss something in that won't fit. ❤

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  48. Happy New Year Jen! I understand the struggle with goals and being realistic. I truly enjoy your blog. Even if you don't post routinely, the quality of your posts resonate with me more than quantity.
    I would love a home cleanse challenge. I've been watching Marie Kondo on Netflix. I would love some MK - Iheart posts, especially with paper. I work in a field where we have to save originals, scanned copies, and all documentation forever, and I suspect that need to retain documentation has influenced by personal life.
    I love how honest and authentic your blog is. I would buy your book, and give copies to my mother.
    Best wishes,
    Anupama

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  49. Thanks for checking in with a post! Wishing with all my heart that all is okay with you guys. And even if you never blogged again and just went with all your other businesses, the 10 years of content you've created here is a never-ending gift to all of us. Just take care of you!

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  50. I've often felt worried for you - your blog has been about cleaning your home and ideally you'd (we'd all) get to points where systems WORK and there's just tweaks when circumstances change. How would you manage new content after getting to where you want your home to be? That seemed like an unfair burden! I've admired how you've been exploring other options and expanding to include helping others and publishing your planners. Bravo! So, please don't worry about finding your path!

    I agree with one comment about revisiting systems you built (like kids' school papers) and sharing how they've held up.

    I've been focusing on reducing my garbage which impacts my daily routines and the stuff I keep. At the same time, I'm trying to prepare for a natural disaster ("The Big One, Oregonians talk about), and trying to keep all that waste-free and organized for long-term storage is a challenge.

    I successfully organized all my paperwork (almost fully digital!), and while I didn't hesitate to scan and toss all of my photos, I am reluctant to do that to all of my grandmother's. I'm not sure how to organize and share all the family history. What do I do with the tin photos from great grandma? The hair jewelery?

    But the biggest project for me this year will be organizing my parent in-laws' belongings and senior care concerns! Phew, that's going to be a biggie!

    Good luck!

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    1. The sentimental items are ALWAYS the most challenging. And no one can tell you what is right, you can only do what you are comfortable with.

      That said, I would love to focus some time/posts on the subject, because sometimes just talking about it and weighing out all of the options can be really enlightening and helpful.

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  51. So happy to hear from you! I certainly missed your blog posts, but glad you took some time away as you needed. Happy New Year to you! I am loving my 2019 planner!! Thanks again for making such a beautiful planner!

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    1. YAY! I love when my printables are being used and loved! THANK YOU!

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  52. Welcome back! I would first off say ... things happen! If you couldn't blog as much as you would have liked so be it, clearly you were needed elsewhere and I don't think you owe anyone any background on why you were busy.

    As for what I need help with, I tend to be a pretty organized person, and also re-organize throughout the year. Some projects that have gotten away from me are 1. memory books (e.g. kids baby books, a memory book I wanted to make of all our christmas cards, one for halloween photos, one for invitations I've kept, etc), 2. photos on my MAC. I have gotten behind organizing them into folders and also creating yearly photo albums highlighting my kids and family & friends photos, and 3. my kids artwork & school memorabilia. I used to be really good at keeping up on all this stuff and then almost 4 years back my then 2.5 year old son started having developmental issues and his care has consumed me ever since. Throw into the mix that back when the journey with my son began, we had also just bought a lot to build our dream home so I've also successfully come thru designing, building and decorating our forever home. I'm still not sure how we did it all - it definitely helped that my husband is a builder! Now that I've found some time to breathe, all of the projects I've listed have just kept piling up and trying to figure out where to start seems overwhelming. I look forward to whatever you share whenever that is! Cheers to a healthy 2019 - that's what matters most!

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  53. So excited to see your post here! Your blog was the first one I ever read. It will always hold a special place for me.

    Papers and photos are a continual issue for me. I have been following Miss Freddy for inspiration (www.missfreddy.com/).

    My main issues are the sentimental clutter and items that have accumulated. We have close loved ones items that are sitting in my house, and now we need to figure out what to do with them. I would absolutely follow along on a home cleanse.

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  54. So excited to see you back here!! You've been missed. Love the idea of clearing out clutter this year. My oldest is graduating from high school this year too. It's sad and happy at the same time. Looking forward to keeping up with you in the new year :)

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  55. SO excited to see a post from you pop up! I cannot wait to see what 2019 brings! As far as pain points for me, I struggle with paper and pictures storing, too, so any advice on that would be super helpful. I think a home cleanse would be wonderful. One of my goals this year is to get organized to the point where it just comes down to maintaining, not trying to always recreate the wheel or recreate the organization, if that makes sense. Again, just so very happy to 'hear' from you this year!

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  56. Welcome Back and yes please help with doing a house cleanse (love that term). Paper/Cards/Mementos are a huge issue for me and would love some tips on how to manage it all. What do you do with holiday cards, birthday cards, especially Thank you notes. In the times we live in very few people write thank you cards/notes and it seems terrible to throw them away. Any advice/tips you can share would be welcomed!!! Happy New Year!

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  57. WELCOME BACK! What a treat to see a new post from you today, and I am looking forward to any and all tips on a home cleanse. Have a great start to the new year!

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  58. I was so happy to see your post yesterday. I've been checking almost every day. For myself, my ordinary life runs like buttah, but I have a basement full of "past lives", i.e. crap, that I've never dealt with. That's where my effort needs to go. I know you're at a different life stage (I'm a lot older), so maybe that's a future issue for you, but I would love to see it addressed.

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  59. Welcome back and Happy New Year! Warm wishes for the achievement of your 2019 goals. I feel like 2018 was a whirlwind and it swept me along so that I too have all the same goals now that I did last January, but we can do it!

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  60. Glad to hear from you again! Your blog is one of my favorites :-)

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  61. Thrilled to see your post come to my inbox today! Your blog is ever-inspiring to me and such a joy to read. Cheers to you, too, in 2019.

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  62. I’m so happy that you are back! I was just wondering about you the other day and was hoping that you’d be back soon. I can’t get over how big your boys have gotten! I feel it was just yesterday I was reading your LEGO organization posts! Happy New Year and can’t wait to see what’s in store for your blog next!

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  63. So, so happy to "see" you and know you're okay even if you're in a state of change. It got me thinking (somewhat morbidly I guess!) that if something really bad health wise were to happen to some of my favourite bloggers, I might not even know unless there was someone who updated their blog on their behalf. Anyway, good to see you and lets do this 2019 :)

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  64. So thrilled to find a post from you today. I will read whatever you want to share! Can't wait to see where 2019 takes you. The home cleanse sounds a great idea and my home could really do with the help! I can't wait to see what you have in mind to get your papers under control. An ongoing daily battle! For photographs, I feel I have finally found the solution. At the end of each month for the past two years, I have uploaded all my favourite phone pics from the month and shared them only with myself on Facebook. At the end of the year, I go to resnap.com and choose to have them create a photobook using my facebook pics. I then do a few quick edits to get it just right and order myself a 120 page photobook for my birthday present from my family. It's the BEST thing to have. Last year's makes me smile every time I look at it and I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of this year's book. Hope that helps someone....SO glad to have you back Jen xx

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  65. I was so excited to see you posted today! I've really missed all your inspiration. Happy you're back!

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  66. So happy to see your post! You always have such amazing ideas and I've missed them.

    I wish you the best year in 2019, and I will pray for you!

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  67. I made it a point to check your page once a week during the fall to see if there was anything new. Every time there wasn’t something new, I would smile to myself and feel really proud of you for taking the time away that you needed and trusting that all of us would be here when/if you got back. This space has gotten crowded with influencers and Instagram story-tellers. Your mature, professional, unique perspective is, as always, clean and refreshing and so welcome. Thank you.

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  68. I'm excited for some decluttering tips! I am a (not so) closeted hoarder, and would love some advice for feeling less guilty getting rid of things I don't need or use.

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  69. So very happy to see a post from you today Jennifer! I hope the break away brought you peace and clarity. You sound refreshed and reenergized and I'm excited to see how the next year unfolds for you. But rest assured, even when you haven't been around, you've "given back" to your readers. Yours is one of the few that I dig through the archives just as much as I read recent posts; the useful and inspiring information you provide is timeless.

    As for business, I think 2019 will be the best yet for us old-time bloggers. We've got a decade of content just waiting to be optimized for new readers ;) And as for organization, I could use tips on organizing technology, both what to do with the old and how to organize the new! I just uncovered a box of old phone and television cables and have old cellphones and laptops hanging around because I don't know what to do with them. Then there's the struggle with headphones and charging cables and tech gear that never seems to find a permanent home.

    Good to have you back, friend! xo

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  70. Please compile all of your home cleanse research into an online course! You deserve to be rewarded for all the thorough and beautiful work you do. I've been a follower for many years and can't wait to see you return! Your blog always has the most beautiful pictures and such an authentic voice. Your fans will be here when you are ready. :)

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  71. It's sooooo good to have you back! I've been worried for you and your family with the long absence and have been sending you prayers/good vibes that everyone is all right.

    I would LOVE to do a home cleanse along with you! I am feeling the bug now (but wasn't right at the new year) and so have started diving in the clear out the clutter and make our home bright and clean again.

    And sign me up for your PAPER and PHOTO (when you're ready) ideas -- those are always a struggle for me. This last year, my father-in-laws health took a dip and watching my husband and his siblings go through mountains of old family photos trying to piece who/where/when made me realize that I NEED to get started on our photos so my kids don't have to puzzle through that. Plus, I want to get them into books so we can all actually enjoy them.

    So good to have you back! And I'll keep sending you good vibes -- senior year is an emotional roller coaster for YOU (lots of tears. when you least expect it.), so hang in there!

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  72. Glad you're back! I look forward to working through photo organization with you. I've got to get a handle on what to do with our digital stuff. The system itself for me is not that hard (I label them year, month, day and some sort of tag) but I need to make a decision and commit to it on a place to store them. I'm just not sure which cloud system to commit to. The other big problem I have is what to do with all of the video clips - from 30 second clips of baby giggles to my oldest son's various at-bats in a gazillion ball games. What do I do with all of that video??

    Going forward, I hope you'll find your balance. It's a daily struggle for a lot of us I think! We just don't have to do it publicly. Maybe this year, you can just do a quick post that says "I'm OK but taking a mental health day/week/month/quarter" so we don't worry about you! :)

    Cheers to the New Year!

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  73. I'm so glad you're back!

    I'm definitely up for clutter-clearing!! We moved for the 1st time in 12 years. We went from an 18 month old and a newborn, to 6 kids aged 13-3 in our old house. Holy cow, how did we fit all that stuff in the old house?! Our new house is a rental, so while its a little larger, its also uncertain how long we'll be in it. I need to declutter so my kids can have me calm instead of a bundle of nerves over the "stuff" that's EVERYWEAR.

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  74. Wonderful to hear from you, Jen! I’ve been able to purge and organize all of my printed photos at long last. But now I need help organizing my digital photos! Can you help us with that sometime in 2019?

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    1. YES! I definitely need to focus on both print and digital photos and finding a balance between both. I hope to share the process this year. (And before graduation would be amazing, wish me luck!)

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  75. Always excited when one of your blog posts come across my email. Best wishes on your best intentions! Know that there's not pressure to perform but we love what you do!

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  76. Good to have you back. How to declutter clothing would be great. As I want to feel less guilty about letting go of clothes..

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    1. Definitely on my list for the Home Cleanse series! :)

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  77. Yay!! I've missed you, your family, and your home so much!!
    Praying for you on your 'little by little' journey. I get it! Be kind to yourself. 💖💖💖
    Looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you this year.
    All the best,
    Amy

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  78. BRAVO!!! YOUR BACK!!! So Happy to "hear" from again!
    I have recently purged most of my house but there there are still a couple of areas that have me stumped. One is a small hall closet where the kids keep all their bags (school, sleepover, sports, etc) The second area is the bottom cabinets of a built in that has no shelves or division so everything and anything gets shoved in there to never be seen again.
    All the best to you and your family and Happy New Year!

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  79. So glad you are back, I checked every week to look for new post! Happy New Year!🎉🎉

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  80. Welcome back. So good to see you posting again. Looking forward to all your tips, ideas, and beautiful photos.

    De-cluttering and organizing are always on my list. Especially closets and hidden areas. I will be moving this spring so need to get a move on pretty quick. Where do you find sources to donate items to? I have furniture, knickknacks, household goods, etc to get rid of and I don't know how to find places that will take all of this stuff. (My mother died last year so I have all of her things to sort through and donate or toss.) It's gets quite overwhelming.

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    1. Hi Joan! How to dispose/donate/recycle is one of the main focusses of the challenge, as figuring all of that out can be really overwhelming. So many different items can go in different directions or actually are required to be disposed of in specific ways. I am hoping to break all of the down in one place for you all.

      I am so sorry to hear about the lost of your mother, and best of luck with your upcoming move. ❤

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  81. So glad that you are back! I missed your posts and so happy to hear you are doing well. I’m all in for a home cleanse. Decluttering and streamlining my home always makes me feel better and a little lighter. I’m always open to ideas to improve upon it. I would also love to see another deep cleanse post from you. The Spring cleaning in March you posted a few years back is my all time favorite post of yours. I’d like to see if you have an updated routine or new ideas. I look forward to what you have in store for 2019. Welcome back!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions Shelley! I have a lot of Spring Cleaning to do this year, I would love to spend some time chatting through our cleaning tasks and schedules.

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  82. I was so happy to see a new post from you, I was worried it was the "end". I've always wanted to blog but this is exactly why I don't. I would feel the obligation to post might start to crowd out real "life". As much as I like to share there is a certain amount of stress that comes with all of that. Like others have said as much as we look forward to your posts it's understandable that life takes precedent. That is what keeps us grounded. That is a priority. Glad to hear some word from you Jennifer and hope that things are going as well as they can despite whatever circumstances.

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  83. so glad you are back! I kept on checking your blog to see if for some reason I was missing posts!

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  84. Hello and welcome back! You were missed. I love your Christmas bin labels, can you please tell me about the label sleeves? My former method of putting clear contact paper over the label cards is not working (they are making it less sticky I guess). Thanks and I hope this is the year you are hoping for!

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    1. Hi Karin, I like to use 3" x 4" badge holders that I find at Office Supply stores and mount them to the front of the bin with glue or clear tape.

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  85. I wa so happy to see your post! Welcome back from your well deserved break and congrats on your publications. I would love to do a home cleanse with you. Some of my problem areas be the kids paper work that comes home from school. What to keep and what to toss. Another would be the junk drawer. I know you had a post on it and was curious how yours has held up. Can’t believe the little ones aren’t so little! Happy New Year!

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  86. Ah!! So glad to see you back. I did a little happy squeal and my hubby goes "Is your favourite blog back?!" Hahah #obsessed.
    2019 home-y goals for me this year is to make our apartment more functional AND beautiful. We've recently upgraded from a teeny tiny 2 bedroom basement apartment to a gorgeous, 3-bedroom duplex that we are completely in love with. We need to hammer out some big projects, such as building our home office (we own a wedding photography business) that can host client meetings, and also creating a nursery for our baby daughter! She's due in May and we have zero things started. Crazy! Beyond that I'm hoping to invest in some more beautiful pieces for our home, even though we're renting we'll be here for at least the next 3-4 years, so we want this place to feel like ours through and through. I cannot wait to see what you get up to this year and follow along faithfully as always! <3

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    1. A giant CONGRATULATIONS on your new home and baby! Such a wonderful and exciting time! ❤

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  87. WELCOME BACK! You have been missed! I pack my Christmas decor away by which room I use it in. My label says CHRISTMAS DININGROOM etc. then I can unpack / repack one room a day. And hugs to you- so many of us have sent a child to college. It gets easier! Trust me.

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  88. Welcome back & Happy New Year!
    Thanks for all the cleansing ideas! I love using bins for organizing decorations like you do with your Christmas decorations. We have a small home with not much storage, so I have to keep extra stuff at a minimum. We do have plans to build a big shop to keep our boat and other toys out of the weather and I plan on having shelves in there to keep everything. Hopefully it doesn't make me accumulate more.

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  89. So happy to hear from you! You inspired my 5 y/o son’s closet makeover last year and I can’t wait to see what I’m inspired to do this year! I really, really need to work on our computer room/office! I’ve put it off for several years (well, 7 years to be exact) and it’s time it moved up on the priority list. I am literally using a white 6-ft folding table as a desk!?! I am really struggling with making decisions in this room. I want it to function as desk/office space for my husband and I, the printing hub for the family, and also some scrapbook space or at least storage of supplies. This is also the best room from which to watch for the school bus in the mornings, so there’s that too. Got any ideas? BTW, my oldest is also graduating from high school this spring and heading off to college in the fall.

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    1. I love hearing that about the closet, Libbe!

      And I also have to get my office done. It's been over two years of looking at the same white walls and I am ready for some personality and proper storage.

      I am also hoping to start the What Would Jen Do series up again, so stay tuned with how you can submit your space for ideas.

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  90. So happy to see you post! Wishing you all the best as you take care of yourself and your family first. Your blog was the first I ever read and you are so incredibly talented... I imagine it is challenging to generate so much new material for as many years as you have.

    I would love more toy organization or closet ideas. I am really struggling with how to allow my kids to have their treasured collections without taking over the whole house.

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  91. Welcome back!
    What a pleasure to check in today and see your lovely, informative and inspirational post. Your ideas have inspired many of my home systems ... and this is the Year of the Pantry (a narrow and deep closet in the kitchen featuring only 3 fixed shelves ...sigh)

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  92. I'm so happy to see a post from you! I've been following you for years, and really love seeing your projects and getting great organizing ideas from you. I also had a rough 2018, here's to 2019 being calm and peaceful and full of good things.

    Also, I would love to participate in a home cleanse. That sounds amazing!

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  93. Was so happy to see a new post!! Even if it’s just once a year I’ll always be happy to see a post from you ❤️

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  94. Love clear bins, but for all Christmas items, I only use the clear bins with the red lids. This way, when I ask my husband to retrieve the bins from storage, he knows that everything with a red lid gets pulled out for Christmas. Also, when returning to storage, all bins with a red lid get stored together. This way, you aren't hunting for the "other bin" that got separated from the Christmas items.

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  95. Jen I am so glad you're doing ok and love seeing your post again :) I am with you on the home cleanse this year, and paper and photos are also on my list! I have already purged so much papers (old bills, junk mails etc), but still has a lot left to do. Also, i don't know where to start with my family photos. Like 99% are on my phone or computer. I don't know where to start as far as getting a photobook, or having them printed individually and storing them in cases?? I don't have any idea yet. Buy again, thank you for posting again! You know we're here to support you all the time :) You're one of the few favorite bloggers I truly follow and take inspiration from from way way back! (We also did a collab for a giveaway in the past, not sure if you remember). take care!!!!

    Mina (shop Papelline)

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  96. A lot of great ideas and with the cold weather upon us, its the perfect time to stay in and organize!

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  97. So happy to see this post!! And super excited about the paper and photo cleanse. Those are truly my biggest problems. I love to take pictures and have so many printed from before digital. Now to get them organized! My oldest is graduating this year too! :(

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  98. So glad you're back! I would love to see a post on how to keep memories from photos to papers to 3D items. I am not into scrapbooking but I do love and use your child artwork/school papers system. I even put a system together for my sister's kids as a gift. Just how do I do that for my own stuff?

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  99. Oh, Jen!! I am so glad you're back. Was really worried about you, been praying for joy to come your way and that things were ok. It's ok to have a similar intro letter, I think it means you've found what really matters to you and your vision for the future, so maybe the struggle is keeping the happenings throughout the year aligned to those important tenets? But that happens to literally all of us. It doesn't mean you're less-than, it means you're a busy, dedicated, hard-worker. Much love and welcome back!

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  100. Hi Jennifer, glad you are back! We love to read your posts for organisation inspiration. Wish you all the best for 2019. David at the Handy Squad.

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  101. It's really good to hear from you, I'm so sorry you're going through some tough times. I hope things get better for you and the family. I can't believe the oldest P is graduating this year???? Waaaa! I'm sure you are one proud mama! Lots of love and hugs! Loni

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  102. Glad to see a post from you again - I hope all is well. Love your take on organizing and have missed reading your blog. Best wishes for 2019!

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  103. Hi - it's Tenney. Going to use anonymous until I figure out my google password...
    Just wanted to say how happy I was to see a new post. De-cluttering and paper are my big problems. I did find an idea with what to do with my parents' letters to each other (he was in the Navy and gone a lot!). Anyway, Mom purged out most of the non-PG items before she passed, but still there were so many! So I found out there is a Center for American War Letters, and they are working on a "Million Letters Campaign" which I will be happy to help with, as my Dad was in WW2, Korea and Vietnam. Once my sisters say OK, of course! Another project I would like to research is rag rugs - I understand so many textiles go to landfills, plus I am tired of that rubber baking stuff coming off in the washer and dryer. So, if you have any ideas, I'll appreciate it! Welcome back!

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  104. Happy New Year! So happy that you're back! There is something very uplifting and happy about your organizational and decorating style that every time I visit your site it makes me feel calm and the world feels a little less chaotic. You have such an amazing talent and I am glad you share it with others. Thank you!

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  105. So happy to see you are back, Jennifer! I've been following you from very early on and I am sure I speak for many here, your true followers will always be here for you no matter how much time has gone by! How exciting you are writing a book! Can't wait for more details! And I can't believe your oldest is graduating!! Eekk! I am trying to get two businesses off the ground and would love to see behind the scenes of the business side of things and how you organize that! As for my home, I could definitely use a full-on home cleanse! :) I struggle with time management, organizing papers (specifically important papers/homework coming and going from school with 3 kids), keeping the kids toys from taking over the house (no playroom), & how to get the whole family involved in chores! I feel like a hot mess! lol! Again, so glad to have you back!

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  106. Its always a great pleasure reading your posts. And this one is very touching. Im thinking to give a minimalism a chance, and my first task is give some order to my photos and papers... I don't have any plan. So... Lets do this, Im in. Saludos desde Mexico.

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  107. I'm so encouraged at the outpouring of support from your amazing readers. I want to ask my voice to the list, first to say I'm sorry your plans have been interrupted, and second, I understand as I've been there. I'm in the midst of an unexpected interruption as we speak. Not to make this about me...I truly want you to know I see you. And am rooting for you. Much love

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  108. I'm so looking forward to your home cleanse. I'd love if you could share less candid pieces of your life and a great way to do that is Instagram stories (I still love your candid pictures and find them inspiring!). Thank you for 10 years!

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  109. I'm older and have grandchildren. Ornaments and other decorations I don't want any longer I give them first shot at before donating.

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