Tag Archives: cleaning

The Airstream Diaries: Interior Cleaning AKA The Struggle is Real

This was the dirt/hair in the Airstream on a good day. YIKES!

This was the dirt/hair in the Airstream on a good day. YIKES!

One of the reasons that I was pumped to move into the 188 square feet of the Airstream was less cleaning. Less room, less cleaning, right? RIGHT?!?! Well, yes and no. I don’t have to clean two bedrooms, a kitchen, an office, two bathrooms and a living room/dining room, but I still have to clean, unfortunately. It’s one of life’s inevitable chores.

And although I don’t have as much space to clean, I do feel that I have to clean more often. A small space can look instantly cluttered if there are clothes laying out or the bed is unmade. It doesn’t take me a whole Saturday to clean like it used to, but there’s still a never ending stream of dishes and laundry.

Hello, my name is Bambi and my favorite hobbies are playing with my ball, begging for food and shedding!

Hello, my name is Bambi and my favorite hobbies are playing with my ball, begging for food and shedding!

Lately the dog hair has been out of control too. Bambi has been shedding her summer coat and mama and daddy both have long hair. Our shoes and paws also track in sand from the outdoors. It’s a never ending fight against hair and sand around here. Rugs help and so does the gravel path outside, but we sweep and/or vacuum every other day.

bugs I recently went on a fall deep cleaning spree and even cleaned out the lights in the Airstream. Woof. It was like a science experiment in there.

I think if I ever was “wealthy” (whatever that means), I’d live in a small house and hire a housekeeper. I just can never seem to keep up.

What about you? Is cleaning a struggle for you? Does a dirty house stress you out? Let me know in the comments.


The Minimalist Challenge: Days 8, 9, 10

minimalist challenge 8,9,10

After week one, it became harder to find things to get rid of for the Minimalist Challenge. I did find some weird random stuff that I could live without and some clothing that I didn’t really need. One of the hardest part of this challenge is living with someone who loves to keep stuff (ahem, my lovely husband, cough cough). You know, “in case we need it one day.” Newsflash: We never need it one day. I’ve mostly been getting rid of my stuff to sell, donate or trash, but it’s going to get really difficult when I get to Day 20. My lovely husband is going to have to part with some junk! (And he isn’t going to like it!)

8 from top going clockwise: Empty box of Scotch Brite (whyyyyyy?!), tank tops, almost empty greased lightening, water bottle, olive oil container, magnetic notebook, broken carabiner, 1/2 empty Shout (poured it into the other 1/2 empty bottle of Shout)

9: 9 articles of clothing

10 from top left: damaged paper plates, old knife, peanut butter, broken lid, 2 basting brushes, knife sharpener (already have one), 3 DVDs

How do you deal with a hoarder in the family? Let me know in the comments!



25 Ways to Declutter Your Life

ways to declutter On my birth certificate, I’m pretty sure they got my middle name wrong. It’s not actually “Renee” it’s “Organization Queen.” If nothing else, I think I should at least put  “Decluttering Diva” on my resume. After all, I’ve parred down my life to fit in an Airstream and at my last job, I weeded over 6,000 books from our collection. What can I say, it’s a talent.

I’ve compiled some of my best tips and tricks into the handy-list below. Don’t print it out, hoarders. Just refer to it when you need it.

  1. Identify the source: Where is your clutter coming from? Is it paper clutter? Clothing? Knick-nacks? Once you identify the source of your clutter, it’ll be easier to eliminate it.
  2. Unsubscribe to junk mail and e-mail: Mail, snail and email, was a huge source of clutter for me. Unsubscribing to most emails and junk snail mail through Catalog Choice was a huge weight off my shoulders. Now the junk mail never even makes it into my mailbox or inbox.
  3. Do an inventory: It seems silly, but take an inventory of your stuff room by room. This will help you to recognize duplicate items and things that do double-duty. For example, my blender food processes. I don’t really need a blender and a food processor.
  4. Host a yardsale: Once you identify stuff you don’t need, it’s time to actually get rid of it. Getting money from my old stuff was a huge incentive to haul it out of my house. A yardsale is the traditional way to make money from your stuff, but don’t forget about flea markets and selling stuff online too.
  5. Give your stuff away: If money isn’t an incentive to get rid of stuff, well, I don’t know how to help you. Kidding. You can always give your stuff to friends and family or strangers in need. Donating items to thrift stores, like Goodwill, not only feels good, you can also write it off your taxes!
  6. Get rid of two things before you bring one thing into the house: This is a good, on-the-fly way to declutter. Before you bring anything else into the house, get rid of two things. This way, you get your new item, but you also make room for it.
  7. Put it on ice: (Figuratively or Literally!) I heard this tip a long time ago and I always thought it was so clever. Freeze your credit cards in a cup of water, so you don’t make impulse purchases. That way, when they are defrosting, you have time to think about your possible purchase. You could also take this figuratively and just wait 48 hours (or a set amount of time) before making any new purchases.
  8. Enlist the help of an honest friend or family member: Ooo! Ooo! Pick me! It probably isn’t realistic to think that I could come over to each and every one of your houses while you are decluttering. (Although I would love to!) I’m sure you all have that super honest friend or family member who will help you go through the process.
  9. Set a goal for yourself: Really this is a life tip. You will rarely get things done in life without some sort of end goal in mind. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. and make your goal something that you really want. I’d also recommend that your goal isn’t more “stuff.” A weekend trip, perhaps?!
  10. Set consequences, too: For some people, goals aren’t enough. And I get that. Cleaning and decluttering is painful! Set S.M.A.R.T. goals and consequences. Make yourself accountable if you don’t meet your goal, or enlist a friend or family member to keep you accountable.
  11. Limit your collections: I love to collect books, vintage hats, and Fiestaware. But my collections took up too much space and were too good of an excuse to spend cash. I weeded down my book collection and sold my vintage hat collection. I couldn’t part with any of my Fiestaware, but limiting my collections to just one type of thing has freed up so much space.
  12. Be realistic: We’ve all got that pair of skinny pants in our closets that we can’t bear to part with. I think I’ve got some skinny jeans and maybe a skinny dress or two. But we all need to get realistic with ourselves. Are we ever going to fit back into them? No. Let’s give them away, ladies and gents. They’re contributing to the clutter and they’re not making us happier.
  13. Be grateful: Whenever I get sad or jealous that I don’t have a larger house (to fit more stuff into!) I make a gratitude list. We all have so much to be grateful for, but it’s easy to forget. Make a gratitude list and I guarantee most of the stuff on there won’t be “stuff.”
  14. Ruthlessly prioritize: I read one time that Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, ruthlessly prioritizes and I never forgot that. Ruthlessly prioritizing every aspect of your life can give it new clarity. This especially applies to clutter. Ruthlessly prioritize that mess!
  15. Focus on outcomes: Focus on that end goal. Leave reminders of the goal around your house. Focus on an outcome that is of great importance to you. You want to have a safe, uncluttered house for your kids. You want to travel with the money you make from your old stuff and save money by not buying more “stuff.” (That’s my goal!) Whatever motivates you, focus on it.
  16. Remember the broken window theory: The broken window theory applies to housework too. If one part of your house is a wreck, it bleeds into other parts. The same happens with a clean, organized room. Once you start organizing and decluttering, you won’t want to stop. Trust me.
  17. Do Yoga: (Or whatever relaxes you) Purging your stuff and making a million decisions about it, can be incredibly stressful. We all suffer from decision fatigue, and need to relax our brains. Take your time going through your stuff, if necessary, and relax afterward.
  18. Take a mental health day: Don’t worry, I won’t tell your boss. Sometimes it is totally necessary to take a day off just to get your life together. Take time off to declutter a room and I guarantee, you’ll perform better at work.
  19. Take a walk in the park: Nature is super relaxing and clears the mind. When the purging gets tough, take a walk. Nature has no clutter!
  20. Eat your veggies: No one can declutter on an empty stomach. Eat a healthy, but light meal before you begin this massive endeavor. May I recommend a slimer smoothie? It’ll get that brain (and bowels?!) workin’, promise!
  21. Sleep on it: If you have an item you are unsure about purging, sleep on it. Working with a tired brain just doesn’t work. Go to sleep and come back to the item tomorrow. You’ll have brand new clarity.
  22. But don’t sleep in: Get up early to declutter. Treat it like a job. Because it is. A huge, adult life job. The longer you wait in the day, the harder it is to declutter.
  23. Remind yourself that it’s just “stuff”: At the end of the day, stuff is just stuff. You can’t take it with you. People are more important. Experiences are more important. Having less stuff sets you free to live your wonderful, gorgeous, electric life.
  24. Be kind to yourself: Making the life decision to live with less is incredibly hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. Be kind to yourself during this process. Know that it may take time. Love yourself and be gentle when necessary.
  25. Keep it up: One of the hardest parts of purging stuff is not bringing it back into your life. Keep doing an inventory. Evaluate your purchases. Keep a picture of your goal in your wallet. Remember that the most important thing in life isn’t stuff. As one of my idols, Suze Orman says, “People first, then money, then things.”

How do you declutter? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I know “declutter” isn’t technically a word. But it should be. Declutter implies finality. Unclutter implies a temporary state. At least in my mind. What do you think?




How to Make Money at Flea Markets

flea marketOne of the best ways to unload a large amount of junk and make a few extra bucks is to sell your wares at a local flea market (or as some call it, a swap meet). In my experience, we’ve had much more success at a flea markets than at yard sales. Yard sales require the customers to drive to your house. Yard sales don’t have as many vendors, so they don’t attract as many customers. And people also seem to want you to offer you .10 cents for everything at a yard sale.

Over the past couple of years, George and I have sold a large chunk of our earthly wares at the Raleigh Flea Market. During this time, we’ve also acquired an array of tips and tricks to the flea market game. Here’s what we’ve learned:

1. If your flea market is outside, check the weather report! People will not shop if it is raining, super cold or very windy. It is also a total bummer to sit outside in harsh elements all morning. Bad weather can also ruin your stuff. For example, if you sell books, even a little bit of rain will completely ruin your stuff.  Bring tarps or a large tent even if the weather report is in your favor.

2. If your flea market takes reservations, call early in the week to book a good spot. Scope out the best spots the week before and ask for those specific spots. Look for spots near a bathroom or an entrance. These areas are higher traffic, therefore, your items are more likely to be seen.

3. Know your competition. Visit the flea market a couple of times before selling to scope out the competition. What is everyone else selling? Are their prices high or low? What can you offer that other booths may not?

4. Know your market. In the beginning, it is hard to figure out what sells, but by bringing a variety of items, you’ll be able to quickly narrow down your scope. For example, we’ve found out that vintage clothing does not sell at our flea market, but I’ve been to huge flea markets, such as the Rose Bowl, where vintage clothing sells like hotcakes.

5. You’ll want to narrow down your scope a bit, so you don’t have to haul your entire house to the flea market, but keep things diverse. We’ve had weekends where only our furniture had sold and we’ve had weekends where only small knick-nacks sold.

6. Create an appealing booth. Put your best items at the front of the booth to draw in customers. Spread items out and display them in a shop-like way. Go to the mall to get inspiration! No one likes to get on the ground to sort through junk. Put your items on tables, display clothing on racks and play music that reflects your style. Check out the picture below of our last set-up. We put our most eye-catching items towards the front of the booth. The painting of the pig drew in so many customers!

flea market set up

7. Price your items slightly higher than you the amount you would take. Some people at the flea market like to negotiate. Some don’t. If you see someone is hovering over an item or you can tell they may be a bit shy, let them know your low price.

8. With that being said, don’t take a price that is less than you feel comfortable with. People will always try to get something for nothing. Someone else will come along and you’ll sell that item eventually. Don’t worry too much.

9. Don’t take it personally when someone balks about the price. You know what the item is worth to you. Some people don’t see the value in it and never will. Ignore those people. When we bring George’s art out to the flea market people balk about the price and try to offer us less. The pieces are original and often take hours, if not days, to complete. We price it fairly. The end.

10. Have fun, talk to people, put on sunblock, dress in layers, bring a chair, lots of snacks and relax! Selling your old junk is easy money.

Have you ever sold at a flea market? Got any tips? Leave ’em in the comments!


Airstream Renovations: A Slow Progression

The past few weekends have been a whirlwind of work. I’m not complaining but, man, I could use a nap… or two… or five. Here’s the progress we’ve made on the airstream.

lights before and afterThis picture accurately describes the first weekend we worked on the airstream. The lights at the bottom of the picture are indicative of how dirty everything was. The lights at the top were thoroughly cleaned by moi! We had no clue that the inside of the airstream was covered in mildew and mold. I guess it was hard to look past the ugly blue carpet!

I scrubbed every square inch of the trailer with a bleach mixture while George demoed. I even used a toothbrush to get in the cracks! A perfectionist’s dream! We had no idea the extent of the mildew, so we ended up demoing a lot more of the inside than we had imagined to just get everything clean. More demo means more building we will have to do, but at least I’ll sleep safely knowing we won’t be living in a petri dish.


after priming George cleaning out an old bee nest!

The weekend after the deep clean/demo, we primed! I think it already looks better with just a coat of primer on everything. What do you think?

Next weekend, we’re planning on painting the entire place a bright white. With such a small space, I think too much color on the walls would be overwhelming. And after seeing all that mold, I definitely want the place to look and be clean and bright.

There’s been a few obstacles, ahem, Mildew McMilderson, and our to-do list is a mile long, but we’re making progress. We won’t be moved in before I start my new job next week, but we’re figuring it out.

Living positive and living small,



Love Weekends: Raleigh Flea Market



flea3 About once a year, George and I shlep all of our unwanted stuff to the Raleigh Flea Market. It is a chance for us to make a little extra cash and make a little extra room in our home.

Saturday started out a little rainy, but ended up being a beautiful and profitable day. Below you can see pictures of our little set-up.

flea2 flea1 What did you all do this weekend?

P.S. We still have a few of the items in the 2 pictures above for sale. If you are interested, leave your questions in the comments!