Archive for the 'Organization' Category

Fewer Toys a Greater Blessing?

I recently read this article, thanks to a recommendation from Amie, and thought it was great! I know that for many of us, our kids may end up having fewer toys than the average American family anyway, whether it be due to frequent moves, the often higher cost of quality toys overseas, a desire to live closer to the culture, financial limitations, smaller homes, etc, and this article discusses how this is actually likely a very beneficial thing. Actually though, even as this has been the case for us to an extent, we still have way more toys than we “need!”

The problem for me though is that the majority of my kids’ toys were gifts from people that I care a lot about,  many whom are far away, so I have a really hard time trying to pare things down, even when the kids have totally outgrown a toy. I’m not usually a “saver” when it comes to things that I don’t use, but when it comes to gifts for my kids, I just can’t part with them! Thankfully so far there has always been someone younger in the family to save such toys for, thus saving mom the heartache! Another great alternative to getting rid of things that you already have is to just rotate toys in and out so your kids can keep all of those treasures and still reap many of the benefits of having less.

But, then again, we could also write a separate post on the flip side about the benefits of having all of the fun stuff at your house so all of the neighborhood kids want to come! Having your place be THE place gives you the benefit of knowing what your kids are up to all of the time! I read an article about that idea recently and was inspired to hope our home would be the place that our kids and their friends want to hang out as they grow up. I don’t think it necessitates having lots of expensive stuff, but what I read did give some compelling arguments for having some fun things that naturally attract kids!

What are your thoughts on this whole less-is-more issue as related to kids and toys? Have you felt that your decisions about how many toys your kids have has been at all affected by where you live, either by having more or less? If so, how has this affected you and them?

(Post by: Ashley)


Enjoying a Small Home

Kitchen Table and Chairs
I know all of us live in various types of homes depending on our location, the culture, our ministry, and our personal choices with regards to how we feel called to live, but I know that for one reason or another, a number of us end up in smaller homes than perhaps we were used to growing up, or than we would likely consider ideal for the sake of comfort. We have found ourselves in this situation and have had a good time trying to figure out how to make our place work well for us, even as our family grows and space doesn’t.

Though our place is small, we love it and feel very at home and blessed. I am however always looking for new ideas for organization, de-cluttering, and decorating, especially on a budget.  I love finding tips and ideas for making things look more organized and peaceful, despite the fact that there are lots of things crammed into a small amount of space. Also, my personal favorite organizational tip is: get rid of it! On the saver-tosser scale, I am definitely a tosser. Throwing/giving away things that we don’t use is such a liberating feeling!

I am not an expert on organization or decor, and I am sure that any of you could come to my place and offer me tons of help, but here are a few of the things that have helped us get our home in better order:

-Baskets: They are attractive, relatively inexpensive, available in probably most if not every culture, and do a great job of storing pretty much anything. We have some nice baskets under the foot of our bed, and then behind them we put our suitcases, also full of things that aren’t currently in use. These baskets were also great at helping our bedroom not be overrun by baby diapers and baby stuff when our son was in the room with us. It kept it feeling like it was still our room and not just a nursery. We also have a few other baskets on top of our refrigerator and throughout our home to store various items that would otherwise add to the appearance of clutter.

-Hanging shoe/sweater holders: These are probably one of my favorite organizational inventions ever! I feel like I can get so much more into our closets, and in a much more organized fashion with these. I was so happy to find that they are widely available in Russia.

-Draping cloths: I have implemented this in our kitchen. Since we have such little space to store things, we have to stack things on top of our cupboards. It used to look terribly cluttered until I draped a nice red cloth over some less frequently used appliances up there, and used some nice mugs and decorative boxes of coffee as a sort of functional decor. I still use the mugs and coffee, but they double as my kitchen decor.

-Subtle colors: For the kids room, my dream colors would not have tended towards pastels, just based on my personal preferences, but given what I found available, the kids’ room has end up light pink and sage green. Though I wouldn’t have thought to choose it, I really like it! It is so peaceful and calming in there, and it makes it less chaotic even with toys strewn everywhere.

-Couch covers: This is a love hate relationship actually. I honestly hate couch covers. They are a huge pain, but they definitely can mellow things a bit if you are experiencing “death by patterns” in your home. They helped our place a ton.  I looked online awhile ago and there are a ton of sites that show you how to make your own covers. Some of them don’t even require sewing, though they definitely still require some work.

Also, here are a few websites that I have come across that are related.

Fly-Lady: I love this site! It has tons of information (overwhelming amounts at first, be warned) about organizing, cleaning, de-cluttering, etc.

The Jewel Box Home: This is a whole site devoted to decorating and entertaining in a small home.

Small Place Style and Decorating Your Small Home: Two more sites about decorating small spaces If you enjoy the magazine and can’t get it where you live, here is a fun alternative. It has lots of ideas, though I have found that a lot of them rely on things that we can’t get here. I have gotten some good ideas though, especially with regards to finding new uses for old things.

(These sites are obviously working with the styles of and with items available in the US, but I think there are some good principles that could be used in any home, regardless of what type of cultural flare you might have or how little/much you might have available to you.)

What unique ideas do you have for organizing and decorating and finding space? What have you done to help your home feel more usable and enjoyable?

(photo courtesy of

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