Living With Intention

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and found some time to relax, entertain, and bond with friends and family.

I am always filled with great anticipation in January. I look forward to thinking through all that I hope to accomplish in the coming 12 months. This year, I am taking this process VERY seriously and centering all of my aspirations around the following theme: living with intention.

I am looking at everything with greater questioning and intentionality. I’m asking important and sometimes hard questions in many areas – including our home, finances, possessions, physical health and even travel plans. I think many of us are often on auto-pilot or worse, functioning in the reactive mode instead of living with forethought and planning. I’m guilty of it in some areas as well, so I’m definitely not pointing fingers.  Instead, I’m hoping to bring awareness to the table and approach each month with greater planning and intention.

I’m hoping you’ll join me on this journey. Each month my goal is to challenge myself and inspire all of you to tackle a project that will help us achieve greater productivity, peace and joy at home. I’m going through all the rooms in our house with fresh eyes and asking:

  • How can we increase the functionality of this room?
  • Do we want/need everything that takes up space in this room?
  • How can we feel more inspired in this space?
  • What can we add/take away to increase our enjoyment of this room?

A Year of Intentional Living at Home

Here’s what you can look forward to in the next 12 months:

  • January ~ Home Office Challenge: How to Create a Space that Supports Productivity and Creativity
  • February ~ Bedroom: Your Place to Recharge, Relax and Sleep
  • March ~ Bathroom: Order, Storage and Function
  • April ~ What’s in Your Closet? Wardrobe Organization and How to Maintain Long-Term Order
  • May ~ Kitchen & Pantry: Where Zones are Key
  • June ~ The Great Outdoors : Porches, Patios, Decks and Balconies
  • July ~ Bon Voyage: Summer Travel Organization
  • August ~ Kids’ Spaces: How to Keep Them Clean, Organized and Functional 
  • September ~ Foyers, Entry Areas & Mudrooms: Where Function and Form Work Together
  • October ~ Living Room: Sit and Stay for a While 
  • November ~ Dining Room: Gather Around the Table (Also ideas for holiday entertaining!)
  • December ~ The Organized Home: Organizational Systems that Sustain Themselves

I will be doing a lot of work and reporting back to you to make your work easier. I will also be sharing resources, tips and strategies regarding both organization and design (both home- and life-related!), so you won’t want to miss the blog. Make it easy on yourself: SUBSCRIBE! That way everything gets delivered right to your inbox.

Here’s to a new year filled with greater awareness, productivity and intentionally driven decisions at home and life in general.  

 

Cheers!

Maria

Creating a Home on Purpose

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with a family that is moving into a 7,000 square foot home. It might sound large (and it is!) but they also have nine – yep, nine – kids.  What I’m enjoying so much about this project is the intentionality and thought that is going into prepping this home for their June  move-in date.  We are painting walls & built-ins, adding lighting, selecting new furniture, changing out light fixtures, setting up kid spaces, home-office spaces and much more.  It’s very exciting for both them and me!

I’ve thought a lot about this process.  Specifically, the intentionality that is going into the planning of this home.  I think most people would agree that it’s motivating to move into a new home.  The process of moving always seems to inspire people to sift through their belongs, reconsider what they own and most significantly, reimagine how they want to live.  But here’s some wonderful news: you don’t have to move into a new house to reimagine how you want to live.  You can do that anytime you want.  Even today or this weekend.

It’s very powerful to look at your home and wonder, “If I were just moving in, what would I do differently?”  Or, “If I could start over with my home, what would I change?”  The beauty is that you can ALWAYS start over.

The first step to any kind of change is imagining.  For example, could you:

  • change the wall color? trim color?
  • change the orientation of the room?
  • add an architectural feature like a fireplace or bookshelves?
  • swap out throw pillows?
  • replace the carpet or add some rugs?
  • hang up some new art?
  • reframe existing art?
  • create a gallery wall of photos?
  • go through your belongings and purge what you no longer use or love?

My company tagline is, “Create a home on purpose,” and I stand behind this idea with all of my being.  I think home is the most important space of our lives.  Anna Spiro captures this sentiment beautifully in her book, Absolutely Beautiful Things, “My mother taught me there is nowhere more important than home.  Home is where we entertain, relax, celebrate, play, hide, nurture our children, create memories and rejuvenate our souls.  It is a reflection of all that we are and all that we love.”  I’m not religious, but I think that deserves an, “Amen!”

So, I want to inspire you to reimagine how you live in and use your home.  Reconsider what you own and what’s taking up space in your home.  Do you still love every vase, every pillow or knick knack you own?  If you’re not in love with something, you can change it.   And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  You can change the entire energy of a room by rearranging or reorienting the furniture or removing some things.  Just play with it and see what happens.  It’s only through doing that we discover what’s possible both in our homes and in our lives.

I can’t wait to hear about what you’re going to take on!

Tune in tomorrow for an awesome new book by Melissa Michaels, blogger extraordinaire over at The Inspired Room, entitled, Make Room for What You Love.  I was selected to review the book and put its advise into action in my own home.  I’m really excited to share it with all of you, and it fits so nicely into this discussion of being more intentional about our homes.

xoxo ~Maria

Small Projects, Big Impact

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Many people resolve to get more organized at home around this time of year. However, many quit before they even start because it feels too overwhelming to tackle everything at once.

Now, let’s think about this in a different way.  Instead of thinking you have to get the whole house organized in one fell swoop, consider small projects you can easily approach that will have big impact on your day-to-day functioning. I’m not talking about projects that involve taking down walls, emptying rooms of their contents or rearranging an entire space. I’m talking about things like the junk drawer in your kitchen, your bathroom vanity, or your medicine cabinet. Maybe even your sock drawer…

Starting with smaller projects builds momentum and more significantly, inspires many of us to do bigger projects. So, even though your attic or garage are enormous endeavors (and feel impossible to begin), starting with smaller projects is a great way to strengthen your, “I can do this,” mindset.

And, just because a project is small in scale doesn’t mean it has minimal impact. Here are a few small projects I’ve tackled this month that have improved life around our house in big ways…

  • Junk Drawer No More: Our kitchen junk drawer was a disaster. It had become the final death stop for anything that didn’t have a home. I found it difficult to find necessary things like clips, tape and scissors. So, I decided to give it a clean up and get it organized. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to open this drawer now. I added some great sorting trays and some decorative paper to the bottom of the drawer for added pretty.  My kids’ response: “Mom, you can’t call it a junk drawer anymore.” Well, that was the point.
Where things go to die in the Siegel house.

Kitchen Junk Drawer: Where things go to die in the Siegel house.

A few drawer sorters and quick clean up: Junk Drawer No More!

A few drawer sorters and quick clean up: Junk Drawer No More!

We keep hair accessories in our kitchen because I help my kids with their hair in the morning before school (in the kitchen).

I help my kids with their hair in the morning before school (in the kitchen).  I highly suggest extra hair accessories for your kitchen if you have girls!

  • Bathroom Vanity Clean Up: I knew I needed to take on this project when I was getting frustrated finding my makeup and putting away my hair dryer. It didn’t take long (around an hour), but it has made getting ready for my day and getting ready for bed so much more pleasant. And, I got rid of SO. MUCH. CRAP. I had toiletries and medicines dated 2013. Seriously.
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Before: I know… I can’t believe I’m showing you this.

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Little project…BIG Impact!

  • Small Switch-Up, Big Impact: We have an armoire in our bedroom that has housed a television for years. However, we never watch tv in bed. Like, ever. I decided to move the tv upstairs to our bonus room where we have our elliptical so that we can watch movies while we exercise.  We usually watch shows on our tiny phone screens. Talk about big impact!  Our armoire is now being used for linen storage – something we desperately needed in our bedroom.  This small change is major for us and has made exercising so much more enjoyable! And…I love having a big space to store extra sheets and towels.

So what projects can you do that are small in scale, but will have big impact on your day-to-day life?  Think about spaces like your entry, a bookshelf, or various drawers.  Maybe even your laundry room?  How could a small change / quick clean up make a big impact?  Here are some common clutter spaces you might start with…

  • Hall Closet
  • Entry Area
  • Tupperware Drawer
  • Linen Closet
  • Undergarments Drawer
  • Toy Bins / shelves
  • Bookshelves
  • Your Closet drawers
  • Entertainment Console
  • Dining Room Buffet
  • Shoe basket/rack in the entry area of of your home

I hope this has inspired you some. If you need more ideas or suggestions, please feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to help.

Happy Organizing!

~Maria

Intentional Goal Setting

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Are you staying warm? I’m loving the colder weather. This Monday I made the Sweet Potato Chili recipe I shared with all of you last week.  I started craving it as I wrote out the recipe which is kind of a fun occupational hazard!

As we move further into the month of January, I continue to think about how to help all of you achieve your home goals. I laid out an approach to help you tackle your projects last week, but I realized we missed an important step – identifying your home goals for the year!

So, I want to encourage you to make a list of goals for your home. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Think about what projects will have the greatest impact on your family life. Set a budget for these projects and figure out what you need to save each month to achieve these goals. Being intentional about your goals WILL help you achieve them. I promise! After you identify your goals, break them down and consider when you will work on them.  Put dates in your calendar. Post your goals in a visible area.  All of these efforts will remind you (and hopefully motivate you!) to work on your projects.

Here are my home goals for 2016:

  • GARAGE: Clean out garage and purge unused items & toys (making it easier to park both cars). Paint chalkboard wall for kids to write reminders to themselves (and draw!).
  • ATTIC: Donate/Recycle/Discard unused items. Organize remaining contents into zones. Use utility shelving to store items.
  • SMALL PROJECTS, BIG EFFECTS: Refine and organize small spaces that will improve daily routines like junk drawer, linens, bathroom cabinets/drawers, and kitchen pantry.
  • CARPET: Replace carpet throughout the house.
  • OUTSIDE: Update landscaping and plant more flowers in the spring.
  • PATIO: Create an outdoor space with a fire pit and seating for warm weather gatherings and s’mores nights.

I will be working on these goals along side you and sharing my progress.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes about home from one of my big inspirations…

 “My mother taught me there is nowhere more important than home. Home is where we entertain, relax, celebrate, play, hide, nurture our children, create memories and rejuvenate our souls. It is a reflection of all that we are and all that we love.” ~ Anna Spiro in ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL THINGS

Your goals probably won’t be completed in a day or even a month, but with intention and some work, you’ll get there…

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G.R.E.A.T. Goals In Action

If you tuned in yesterday, I laid out an approach that can be easily used to achieve goals for projects in your home this year.  I created the acronym G.R.E.A.T to help guide your efforts.  Here it is again:

G – Identify the Goal.  What do you want to accomplish? Be as specific as possible.

R – Relevant Right Now.  Your goal should be relevant to your life right now.  How will accomplishing this project improve your home/life right now?

E – Execute the Plan.  Write down a step-by-step plan for how you will achieve your goal.  Be as detailed as possible.

A – Accountability.  Having accountability helps many people achieve goals.

T – Time Frame.  Some goals are lofty and need to be accomplished over time, while some can be achieved in one session.  But, every goal needs an “end date.”

G.R.E.A.T In-Action

To help you see this approach in action, I tackled the cabinets of our master bathroom, which were in dire need of an overhaul.  Getting ready had become frustrating because I was hunting for things and there was too much stuff to dig through to get to what I needed.   This was definitely a relevant right now project.

It looks so pretty, right? Until...you open the actual cabinets.

It looks so pretty, right? Until…you open the actual cabinets.

INSIDE… it’s really not pretty.

The good, the bad and the totally disorganized!

The good, the bad and the totally disorganized!

Goal~ Empty, sort, purge and organize contents of bathroom cabinets.  Clean out space, then return relevant, usable contents to clearly labeled areas.

Relevant Right Now ~  A more organized vanity will make getting ready so much more efficient and pleasant.

Execute the Plan ~

  1. Empty all contents out of cabinets and drawers.
  2. Purge and discard expired/unused toiletries, medicines, and makeup.
  3. Wipe down drawers and cabinets.
  4. Return remaining contents to specific areas / drawers.
  5. Label drawers and bins to remind me where to store items and maintain order over time.

Accountability ~ That would be you – reading this blog!

Time Frame ~ Done by end-of-day Monday in order to share with readers.

Here’s how it went down.

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Why am I saving all of these hotel bottles of lotion? I have no idea.  And what are these pliers doing here??

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I just love a clean, blank slate…

After…

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I threw away so. much. stuff.  An entire garbage bag of stuff, to be exact.

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One drawer dedicated to hair care. Easy.

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When I look at this I wonder, “Why did I wait so long to do this?”

I purchased nothing to accomplish this goal.  I used baskets I had lying around and repurposed what was already there.  The entire project took about an hour.  I love instant gratification!  Starting with a manageable project like this will get you motivated and build up momentum to tackle larger projects.  And, like so many things in life, starting is the hardest part.

Ready to do great things in your home?  Go!  Let me know how it goes…

Happy Organizing,

 ~Maria

Creating GREAT Goals for Your Home in 2016

Happy New Year!  I hope your 2016 is off to a fabulous start and that you have used the new year as an opportunity to reflect on all that is good.  If you are like most, you’re also using the new year as an opportunity to identify some areas in your life you’d like to change or improve upon.  Greater home organization is high on the list for many of us (myself included!), so today I’m sharing an approach to help you achieve G.R.E.A.T.ness at home.  You can apply this approach to just about any goal, but I’m focusing on home organization projects.  Here goes…

How to Create G.R.E.A.T. Goals for Your Home

GIdentify the Goal.  Be as specific as possible.  For example, instead of saying, “My goal is to organize my bathroom,” say, “Purge, sort and categorize contents of my bathroom. Discard expired/unused toiletries. Return remaining contents into cabinets in an orderly manner.  Label areas to help maintain order.”  The latter has specific actions embedded in the goal.  These action words will help you hone in on exactly what you want to accomplish.

R – Relevant Right Now.  Your goal should be relevant to your life right now.  All home projects take time, so make sure your energy is going to the most relevant ones.  Start with projects that will have the greatest impact on your day-to-day living.  They can be small projects, like your junk drawer or medicine cabinet.  Be clear about why the project is relevant to you and/or your family members.

E – Execute the Plan.  Write down a plan for how you will achieve your goal.  If you created an action-oriented goal, the plan for execution will be easy.  Today, I’m tacking my bathroom cabinets.  Here’s the plan:

  1. Empty all contents out of cabinets and drawers.
  2. Purge and discard expired/unused toiletries, medicines, and makeup.
  3. Wipe down drawers and cabinets.
  4. Return remaining contents to specific areas / drawers.
  5. Label drawers and bins to remind me where to store items and maintain order over time.

A – Accountability.  Having accountability helps many people achieve goals.  This blog is my accountability!  Maybe your spouse or family members can hold you accountable.  Maybe have friends over at the end of the month for dinner to hold you accountable for organizing your dining room.  The buddy system works wonders here, as well.  If you have a friend that also has home projects on their “To Do” list, motivate and hold one another accountable.

T – Time Frame.  Some goals are lofty and need to be accomplished over time, while some can be achieved in one session.  But, every goal needs an “end date.”  One of my favorite quotes is, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”  Write your goal on your calendar.  Set an alarm.  Just give yourself a due date.

I will report back to you with my bathroom vanity project by tomorrow.  But, to hold myself accountable and to be totally honest with you, here are the before photos… (Warning: It ain’t pretty!)

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The good, the bad and the disorderly…

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Those drawers hold way too much stuff….

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Not sure why there are cleaning supplies stored here, but there you have it!

Now go set some GREAT goals!  I hope I’ve inspired you!

xo ~Maria

Getting Organized for Back-to-School SERIES

As July comes to an end, I’m turning my attention to back-to-school readiness.  I think it’s important to start thinking about this a few weeks before school actually begins so that families and kids are ready to hit the ground running once school starts.  Over the next two weeks, I will be providing inspiration, ideas and strategies for getting your family and home ready for the new school year.  I’ll cover topics such as morning/evening routines, creating a family “hub-center,” how to effectively manage calendars, meal planning and other topics I hope will help make the transition back to the classroom an easy one.  If you have topics you’re interested in, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to address them.

Setting Goals for the New School Year

There is an abundance of research which indicates that people who create goals and then develop plans for attaining those goals are significantly more likely to reach them than those who do not.  Individuals in business have known this for some time, but who’s to say we can’t apply these same principles to getting our children ready for the challenges of a new school year?

Having a goal-setting session with your child(ren) to reflect on the previous year and then create new goals for the upcoming one is a unique opportunity.  You’ll be surprised what might come out of this conversation.  You might begin with something like, “We are so proud of all you accomplished last year in school.  How did you feel about it?”  Here are some other questions that might help guide your conversation. In general, always start with the positive aspects:

  1. What went well last year?
  2. What was your favorite aspect of school?
  3. What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?
  4. What would you like to change or improve upon for the new year?
  5. How can we (your family) support you in reaching these goals?
  6. What would need to happen for you to be more successful at ________?
  7. How do you think your teacher(s) can help support you in reaching your goals?

Clearly, the types of questions you ask and how you frame them will depend on the age of your child.  But in general, it’s a good idea to reflect on the previous year and then create goals for the upcoming one.  This could be as easy as asking questions 1 and 4.  If you want to get very technical, learn about how to set S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound)  here.  (This is probably more appropriate for middle and high school students.)

a-goal-without-a-plan-is-just-a-dream

The other critical piece of goal setting is creating a plan for attaining the goal.  The plan can evolve and change, but it’s important to create one so that both you and your child have a sense of what needs to happen.  For example, if your child’s goal is to improve their math grade, they may need to spend additional time with their teacher or get a tutor.  They might also plan on doing their math homework before anything else.  Create a plan that is specific and targeted, then review it weekly or monthly to make necessary changes.  Post these goals in a visible place so that you and your child can see and reference them every day.

Parents can have goals, too!

I know I can improve upon many things (seriously, where do I start??).  So, I’ll be setting some goals for the new school year as well.  Among other things, I want to wake up before my kids and have at least half an hour to myself to have coffee and breakfast.  I’ve never been a morning person, but I’m trying!  I also want to be more healthy about our breakfast offerings so one of my goals is to bake a little more and incorporate items other than toast and Eggo Waffles into our mornings.  (Don’t judge!)  My plan is bake and freeze several items at a time.  But, more on this when we get to meal planning!

I hope this inspires some of you to start thinking about the new school year!  I know year-round school has already started, but it’s never too late to set goals.

Have a great week!

~Maria