The Wonder of 5 Minute Pick Ups – a Guest Post

the Wonder of 5 Minute Pick Ups A Guest Post - A Slob Comes Clean

This is a guest post from Angela at Setting My Intention.

As I scrolled through the “before” pictures of my future decluttering projects on my phone, my oldest son was looking over my shoulder and asked, “What are you doing with all those photos Mom?” I told him that I was planning on decluttering our house this year and he replied, “Why? That’s our family way.”  Hmmm…

My son owning clutter as a family trait was humorous but also alarming. Someday when I ask my children what they remember about their childhood – I hope that clutter and mess is not at the top of the list. I want my children to feel peaceful, loved, and calm in our home. I want to feel peaceful, loved, and calm in our home.

That is one of the main reasons that I began 2015 with an intention to slowly and systematically get rid of clutter in our home. For the past several months I have been reading minimalist blogs, binge listening to simplifying and decluttering podcasts, and putting into action small changes in my daily habits. Nony’s “A Slob Comes Clean” podcast has been my most recent find – and I’m so glad to have found it! I can really relate to her term “Slob Vision” and “Time Passage Awareness Disorder” – both of which I have!

I started blogging in February 2015 to document my progress and keep myself accountable – but like Nony, did not initially let anyone know. I didn’t want my friends or acquaintances to see the “real” state of my house. Listening to A Slob Comes Clean has reassured me that there are others who struggle with keeping their homes clean and tidy. One of the things that I first implemented was a clutter free zone” in my kitchen. It’s a small part of the countertop but it’s easy to keep clear and clean on a daily basis.

Another habit that we have recently started implementing as a family is a “5 minute pick up” which Nony has written and talked about on her podcasts. My family has done this before in the past but not on a regular schedule. As I have decluttered the children’s toys and books, it’s become SO much easier to pick up and clean. I used to tidy the living room by myself while the kids were in school, but I’ve realized that it’s quicker when we do it together and I want them to develop this habit as a life skill.

Our living room is the gathering spot for the family. My sons don’t do homework on the kitchen table or at a desk – they like to sprawl across the living room floor and do it there. That translates to backpacks, folders and papers left on the floor along with socks and sweatshirts strewn about as everyone gets comfortable. This is generally what our living room looks like at the end of the week:


This was taken after we had done a 5 minute pick up the previous Friday, so a good deal of things that didn’t belong in the living room had been put in their places the week before. The state of the room isn’t so bad…but it’s not peaceful.

I’ve decided that Friday evenings will be the time when we do a 5 minute pick up. It starts our weekend off in a really positive way. Backpacks are put away in our storage bench, socks and clothes are brought downstairs to the laundry area, and toys and books are brought back to the kids’ rooms. We set a timer for 5 minutes and each of us takes an area of the room or a specific task (picking up socks and clothes).

This is what it looks like after a 5 minute pick up:


There are many ways I’m not happy with my furniture, or the layout of my living room, but a clear uncluttered floor makes such a difference in how I feel about the room. When I walk down the stairs on a Saturday morning to a picked up living room, it helps me to enter the weekend feeling peaceful and calm – and when mom is peaceful and calm, the whole family reaps the benefits!

Does your family do 5 minute pick ups?

Angela recently started blogging at Setting My Intention while she tries to overcome her slob vision and actually confront her piles. She is a wife and mom to three boys. She works part time outside the home, and full time inside the home. She loves to hear and see how others are decluttering and simplifying, so please drop by her blog and say hello!

How A Busy Mama Crafter Is Whipping the WIPs (in 5 Steps)

{Editor’s Note:  Today we have a guest post from Emily Chapelle at So D*mn Domestic.  She has set up 6 different houses in 7 years of military moves so she knows a thing or two about having stuff, maintaining it and decluttering what you don’t need… even if she is a crafter with the corresponding crafter’s stash!}


You know what WIPs are, right? If you’re a crafter I know you do. Works-in-progress. Those half-done, almost-done, or barely-started projects we’ve been “meaning to get to.”

Whip the WIPs (Works in Progress) with

The problem is, when our craft stashes (not as trendy as mustaches) grow, WIPs multiply, and soon we’re spending most of our time managing, organizing, and digging through embryonic projects instead of actually crafting.

I can’t tell you how much craft stuff I got rid of when we moved into our new house in December. But it was at least three big boxes during my craft-area-focus day. Plus other random stuff I decided to declutter at different times. It can be bad enough when you’re a die-hard knitter or something, and the yarn piles up. But what about people like me (I know you’re out there) who are kind of a Jack of all trades?

ASCC pic 1

I have clothing blanks in different sizes from when I was doing toner transfers on T-shirts and baby clothes for my local La Leche League. Paint, blank canvases, paint brushes. Yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks. Embroidery hoops, embroidery thread, various sewing notions, and a rainbow of sewing thread. Scraps of fabric, clothes to upcycle, quilt batting, polyfil stuffing, 10,000 buttons, baby carrier hardware, and on and on and on….

We’re moving cross-country again in January. So we’ll be in this house just over a year total. I’ve decided to take this time to Whip the WIPs and get my craft stash under control. How am I doing it?

ASCC pic 2

  1. I got rid of the obvious stuff. The projects I didn’t WANT to finish anymore. The craft items that no longer sparked ideas of stuff I actually wanted to make with them. I donated so much stuff. Someone else can make all of that into something. It’s no longer my responsibility, and I’m glad about that.
  2. I realized the constraints of my time. Real life happens. Every day. And somehow I’m not sitting down to craft every day. If it were my main priority, it would happen. But it isn’t. I craft around once a week, and sometimes even less. So I might get 10 multi-weekend projects done in a year, and a few smaller ones. I don’t NEED materials for doing 200 different projects.
  3. I identified which WIPs were my priorities. Once I got rid of the stuff I realized I wasn’t ever going to DO, a few projects stood out to me as being more important to me than the others. These are the ones I’m making an effort to complete first.
  4. I set an expiration date. If I don’t complete those projects by the time we move again in January, I’ll realize an entire year went by without me making them priorities in my life. And it will be time to let go. And I REALLY WILL let go.
  5. I’m not buying more craft stuff. Really, until I have significantly cut down on my craft stash, I can’t justify buying more stuff. I don’t need to browse fabric stores and craft stores when I have so much I can work with in my home. So I’m just not. If I need something tiny to finish a project I have most of the materials for already, fine. But I’m not going to just buy materials for no reason, or for an inactive WIP.

Here’s to a crafty year, more actually-finished instead of in-progress projects, and a shrinking craft stash!


Emily Chapelle headshot Emily Chapelle has set up six different houses in seven years of military moves. She’s also the mother of two adorable curly-haired kids, wife to a Navy fighter pilot, and a former teacher, childcare provider, and nanny. Now she works from home to spread encouragement and inspiration to other homemakers with a no-nonsense attitude and lots of tough love. She blogs at So D*mn Domestic. Get her free eBook, Finding the Awesome: 3 Steps to Doing More & Stressing Less for more inspiration and guided, broken-down exercises to find your Awesome.


An Incredibly Creative Way to Menu Plan

I’m taking a few days “off” this week to work on a book. A “real” one that will never get written if I don’t make it a priority. I love this guest post from Sara of Weekend Shakeups showcasing her inCREDibly creative take on menu planning!  (Haven’t I mentioned before how people like us are creative??!!)

“What do you want for dinner?”

 My brain initiates total shutdown. My husband’s eyes glaze over. We lamely fumble through ideas, then eat junk while our fresh food wastes away. The solution advocated by almost every blogger ever, including Nony? Menu planning. Sigh. Menu planning is great; we notice a big difference in our stress levels, budget, and food quality when we make one. But when we sit down to plan, my brain still stops working.

binder (600x450)

I try to get ideas from our recipe box and cookbooks, but there are too many options and not enough structure for me. We plan complicated dishes, then go off-menu when life happens. We make more junk…or we throw in the towel and go out to eat. I love eating out. Big restaurant menus are so pleasant to flip through, and I end up having to narrow down between several choices that all sound great. If only menu planning could be more like ordering at a restaurant.

That thought got my creative juices flowing. I found a bistro menu template and adapted it as my idea took shape. I started with our breakfast foods. For this section, I focused on reminders to add healthy and/or hearty sides to our favorite breakfasts, and I added enough detail that guests could easily figure things out.

Our recipe binder is from Costco. We love using index cards to cook because we can stick them right where we need them, and it made sense to add my menu right in.

 I moved on to some of our favorite dinner foods, changing the layout and categories as I developed my idea. I started each category with the broadest variants and ingredient lists, then added specific dishes we’ve enjoyed several times. I used my best “snooty upscale dining” voice and named each dish. My Indian American husband’s favorite veggie sandwich with ketchup, mustard, and a masala blend became the “Happy Indian.” His aunt’s signature Tex-Mex dish was re-christened “Burritochilada.” Say it out loud, giggle, and then read my description:

Burritochilada – classic burrito with an enchilada-style sauce; large flour tortilla filled with hand-mashed refried kidney bean and shredded four-cheese blend, ladled with an enchilada-style sauce of diced tomato, bell pepper, and onion and topped with a dollop of sour cream

 menu in binder (600x450)


Sorry for the terrible lighting. I always get crafty when it’s dark out. Burritochilada is third from the bottom on the left-hand page.

On the last page, I listed our favorite lunch foods, including sandwiches and other basics, simple dishes from other categories, freezer foods, and leftovers that reheat well. I also listed snacks, sides, and beverages that we often keep on hand. I put a copy of the lunch and breakfast pages (which snooty me called “Mid-Day Favorites” and “Day-Starters”) on the fridge as a quick reminder of all the options we have. So far, we’ve been using these pages with success, meaning we often look at it and say, “Oh yeah, I’ll have that!”


I would like it if the columns were more tidy, but I care more about it being functional!

A week after I drafted my menu, I put it to the test with overnight guests. Before their visit, I emailed them a pdf of our menu, and they chose lasagna rolls for dinner and pancakes with fruit for breakfast. There was none of the usual hemming and hawing of them not wanting to ask for specific things or us worrying that they wouldn’t like our food. One of them (who loves all things organization) even called my menu “an exquisite piece of art.”

And…as I have seen Nony do so many times…the commitment of writing about something was enough of a push to actually do the thing (because it takes, like, 2 minutes). After almost 2 weeks of avoiding it, I menu-planned. I flipped around my menu—ok,  first I took time to assemble my menu by sticking the printouts in page protectors in my recipe card binder, then I started flipping—until I found inspiration. And I really did find inspiration! And I got overly ambitious, but I figure that a plan that we’ll stick to for a few days is much better than no plan at all.

menu plan (600x450)


What I love most about my restaurant-style menu is its flexibility. We can add new dishes or add-ons like calorie counts and per-serving prices, and we can send the whole thing to guests or copy-and-paste a few options. It’s a level of structure that works well for me: broken into categories, but still compact enough to browse quickly. And I can post the breakfast and lunch pages in pretty photo frames as daily reminders of our many options. Ok, they’re in page protectors on the fridge now, but they could be in pretty frames. (Excuse of the day for not doing a 5 minute frame project: We’re moving in a month and aren’t allowed to hang anything in this apartment.)

If you want to make your own restaurant-style menu, try starting with one category. List the foods your family eats most often, then add a few related meals you’d like to each more of. Choose a theme, then name and describe your dishes in that style. Adjust the level of detail to your needs. Do you want to remind yourself of everything to add to the grocery list or just list your favorite meals in a quick-scan format? Keep the fonts easy-to-read with plenty of white space, and add a few more dishes every time you menu-plan.

If that’s way too much structure for you, then start a running list of dishes each time you plan your week’s meals and snacks. After a few weeks, you might try to divide it into categories, starting simple (breakfast, lunch, dinner main dish, dinner side dish, snacks). Do this for a few weeks each season, and you’ll have a pretty comprehensive list of your meals.

Ultimately, make sure any menu you make is usable. I love having a digital copy, but menu planning is overwhelming for me. I avoided it until I could physically flip the pages back and forth. So even if you only have a section or two finished, print them out or do whatever you need to do to make them work for you.


Sara is a recovering slob whose love of organizing was usually buried under clutter. After peeling layers of stuff for over a decade, she decided to ditch the crafts and refocus her creative energy on her home and recreation. She loves low-key travel on a tight budget and shares tips and planning methods at Weekend Shakeups.


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