Keeping it Simple – and Problem Areas

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Valiantly trying to KonMari at home

I may not have been working on the house (in terms of decor, repairs, renovations) but I have been cleaning and purging relentless the past months.   Caritas has picked up balikbayan boxes of our donations 3 times this year already, and I already have a 4th batch of donations for Caritas too (I haven’t called them yet for a pick-up schedule because I’m still adding to the bunch).

Like I shared here, I haven’t been actively working on the house the past few months.  As a result, little piles of clutter have started cropping up everywhere.   Oh, I still made an effort to put things away, but the clutter piled up in what I eventually realized are still my problem areas in the house – like that spot under the stairs!

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Sigh.  What a mess.

I’ve actually briefed everyone (and relentlessly kept reminding them) that everything and anything unloaded from the cars go under the stairs.  As you can see, they have taken this to heart.  All the files are neatly corralled in that metal basket – at least!.  But then there’s the laptop bag, and the car seat, and Bo’s walking wings, and sundry other items – like empty pots!  Ugh.

I already have a very efficient drop zone and system for tackling all the mail and bills we get.  But now I realized I still need a better system for the STUFF we get and unload.  This spot under the stairs is that drop zone.   I don’t know what to do about bags right now, and that old car seat of Bo’s.  Somewhere behind the pile is our box of emergency goods, too, for prepper moments; I need to figure out what to do with them as well.  Plus, a spot for shoes by the door since right now they’re sitting on my bamboo stool.

Then there’s the issue of just having too much furniture:

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My little native bench, as you can see, has turned into a shoe rack.  The boxes beside the school station are for the kitchenware I’ve been sorting and purging.

This Muji lounger used to sit in the lanai-playroom.  Then I tried it in the shared boys’ room.  Too crowded.  Pulled it out and stuffed it in the living room.  Too tight.  And now it’s just sitting there by the stairs.  Very awkward.  I should be getting rid of it – and it’s not very comfortable, mind! – but this was the first semi-expensive piece of furniture we’ve ever bought so I’m a little attached to it.  I know I should probably sell or donate it, but I just can’t do it yet.

Then there’s the issue with my living room.  This “progress” shot is long gone.  The help have quit trying to cover up our ugly couch with a sheet, so most days it looks like this:

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Living room from hell

Horrible right?!  Notice the coffee table?  Stupid me got Mang Ariel to put this sort of vinyl-y cover to protect the surface.  It obviously peeled away and chipped.  (Nath of Dekko is going to be horrified).  I’ve since removed my lovely shaggy West Elm rug, because our former yaya kept encouraging the boys to eat and even SLEEP on the rug.  I also finally admitted to myself that it was too darn big for this teeny tiny space.  And my lovely  bench?  As you can see, it has become a glorified patungan ng electric fan.  OH GOSH.  That was the help’s doing and I really can’t blame them, because our old fan is broken and the kids actually like to sit there and we need a fan in that area.

As you can see, I still don’t have curtains, too, and that couch?  Oh that couch.  The awful red-striped ill-fitting fabric is not the upholstery; it’s what’s keeping the stuffings together.  And the foam has become awfully flat and lumpy at the same time.  I could have gotten new upholstery made, but noooo I waited years and years.  It’s actually a great couch – good hard narra wood, with a simple, classic frame.  But the foam has to go, and there’s a missing slat somewhere under the seat.

Basically, I’m back to square one on the living room.  Waaaaaah.

And DON’T get me started on the lanai-playroom.   We removed the single bed from upstairs since no one uses it and now it’s in the lanai too.  We had to get rid of the puzzle mat because the crib is right smack in the middle of the room because I still haven’t set up a more comfy sleeping/napping area for the littlest boys in the shared bedroom!  (Alo often takes his naps on our grubby couch, while Bo sleeps in the lanai).

Shoulda coulda woulda.

You can get a glimpse of the sorry state of the lanai from this photo:

The sliding doors, I know, are really too dark.  I have to do something about them – but that’s out of my budget right now.  I’ve inquired at a shop nearby, and it’s going to cost me around Php 25,000.00 to replace them.  I’m also on the fence about putting curtains or blinds over the sliding doors from the dining area side.

And there you have it.   I’ve done away with my overly detailed checklists for now and decided to keep it simple.  Tackle the most glaring issues.  Otherwise, I’ll never finish anything in this house.

This is my new to-do list (I’m also sharing it here, for quick reference), as of 13 October 2017:

Living Room

  1. new foam for the couch – 10.14.17 ordered
  2. customized sofa covers – 10.14.17 ordered
  3. repair coffee table – 10.17.17 dropped off
  4. replace curtain rods (2)
  5. new, longer curtains (6)
  6. new fan

Dining Room

  1. re-organize white shelves – 10.13.17
  2. clear out mess under the stairs
  3. new stand fan


  1. order black cabinet pulls
  2. remove or donate bed – 10.13.17
  3. paint cabinets
  4. install cabinet pulls
  5. tear out built-in shelves
  6. curtains or blinds? – 10.18.17 curtains (6)!
  7. replace curtain rods (2)
  8. sort and donate kids’ toys (again!) – 10.17.17

Command Center

  1. re-organize cables
  2. re-label file folders – 10.09.17
  3. replenish supplies

School Station

  1. sort and file last school year’s papers – 10.09.17
  2. re-organize supplies bin and drawers
  3. re-label file folders – 10.09.17
  4. replenish supplies
  5. empty out junk from Alo’s side

*Eventually: replace light switches and outlets, ceiling fan for the living room, get plants and pots, hang photos and prints


PROJECT CLEAN HOUSE – Part 1 Updates (Downstairs)

My first Project Clean House update – yay! I gave myself a deadline of until today, April 21, to tackle Part 1 of Project Clean House 2017 – that’s the command center, kitchen, school station, and dining area/under the stairs/living room/entry.  I started Part 1 on April 2, but I gave myself two weeks because I had to factor in our Holy Week holiday. As you can see, I haven’t finished even half of Part 1!

Command Center

  1. File this year’s billing statements, and take out last year’s calendar from our household binder 02 April 2017
  2. Print this year’s calendars and grocery lists, and have them photocopied 05 and 06 April 2017
  3. File away new calendars and grocery lists in their respective binders (punch holes and washi tape included). – 07 and 08 April 2017
  4. Get boxes for the china I’ll be returning to my mother. 06 April 2017
  5. Organize that overhead china cabinet (check supplies there, return the birthday dishes).08 April 2017
  6. Note down supplies needed for command center. 08 April 2017
  7. Switch back the black frames for the white ones (for the print).
  8. Print new copies of cleaning schedule, then laminate 1 copy and put 1 copy in a clipboard for the help. 11 April 2017 
  9. Discuss laundry schedule with help, and revise if needed. 11 April 2017 
  10. Orient the new help on the household binder, grocery lists, laundry and cleaning schedules.
  11. Check and re-organize keys.
  12. Find a spot for Papa’s mail.

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It’s been quiet here lately.  We’ve been away for one – Holy Week break in the Philippines! – and I’ve spent the rest of my free time tackling my Project Clean House tasks.  It hasn’t been easy!!!  I tweaked the calendar and grocery templates I did last year, and cutting everything, gluing the pages together, even punching lines of holes, has been quite tedious.  It has always been tedious – I still can’t figure out how to make the work easier, or quicker.

I also attempted not to buy anything new while I clean.  I’d take note of the items we needed, and promised myself to buy everything after I finish cleaning and organizing everything, but that didn’t work out too well.  For instance, I didn’t have any other letter holder for the mail my dad still gets.  And I didn’t have any extra clipboards lying around either, so I had to get a couple, too.  I needed large white art paper for backing the print in our Command Center (Item #7 for that area – switch back the white frame).  Then I decided I wanted a black and white print for the Command Center, instead of the wood print I got from Co/op.

I still love that Co/op print, by the way, but I left the Walloh Design print that I got for the kids on that spot for a few days aaaaaand I ended up really liking how all that black and white goes with the rest of the items on that little desk.

As you can see, the print is too wide 

So I ended up asking Walloh Design to make me a similar print – with a “home” quote and portrait orientation instead of landscape.

Then I kept getting distracted about other things like wanting to clear up the Command Center even more (it sometimes feels too busy and cluttered for me), and wanting to tackle the kids’ toy cabinet and that TV wall in the lanai-playroom…. FOCUUUUUUUS.  I need to focus.

The above distractions aside, I have been making headway on Phase 1 of Project Clean House. Almost done with the Command Center (except for where to put my dad’s mail), and this afternoon I move on to the kitchen – eeeeek.


In spite of the (endless) plans for renovating and fixing up our home, our place suffers from one fatal flaw: clutter. I buy and buy, but I’ve fallen behind on the purging and decluttering and keeping things in order. Even if I have a system in place, I know I still have to supervise the household to make sure we all stick to the system.  The H has asked me to finish cleaning out everything first before buying more things. He has a point. Some of the stuff I bought are still in shopping bags stowed away upstairs. I have to get my act together – I can’t improve the house without purging all the unecessary bits. And we’ve accumulated a lot of those even if we haven’t even lived here a year!

A few weeks back – I’ve cleaned up this area, for the most part, but you see where our clutter areas lie.

I promised the boys I’d focus on what needs to be done now – with what we have and the clutter I can tackle – before I go back to thinking of what I can buy or new project to tackle. Oh, my lists are still there, and I definitely will go back to them, but right now, and especially after the service this morning and the H’s challenge, I promise my family I’m going to tidy up – KonMari, if you will.

I not only have to purge and declutter, but I need to finish those schedules and put the systems back in place… Aaaaand since I’m an incurable list maker, I’ve come up with my to-do lists, which I divided into parts:

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