Kon Mari: Party Edition

Have you guys heard about this Kon Mari thing? Just kidding. I know you’ve already read my four-part series on the Life Changing Magic of Tidying up and if not, I’ll just sum it up: it really is magic to declutter your house in such a ruthless fashion as Marie Kondo suggests. I have done the hard work to change my life to reflect the Kon Mari principles of having only belongings that bring me joy. Also, as I’ve said before, I have always been a neat, tidy and organized person, so some of my natural abilities play into my capacity to rock Kon Mari, but nevertheless, here is my song of praise for what Kon Mari does for your capacity to host a fabulous party in a space that isn’t ideal for hosting.

First, a little description and a couple photos of The Baldwin Ranch if you’ve never visited.


We live in a small, uncluttered ranch. Our home is about 1200 square feet of ground floor finished space and 1200 square feet of partially finished space in the basement (partially finished for us means we use the space for everyday living, though it isn’t aesthetically pleasing and it hosts The Shabby Alpaca’s home office and boutique.)

Anyway, though, clean and uncramped, the layout of our house is such that there are several smaller spaces in the main living area. When you come to the front door you enter an enclosed porch that is about 6×5.


This is the entry way. I’m taking this photo from the main doorway.

As you enter the house, you come into an even  smaller space inside our house that is directly in front of another wall which divides the kitchen and the dining room- making it an awkward space for entertaining. (P.S when I mentioned home renovations, this is top of the list for changes: knock out all the walls and get a new front door).


My living room has changed since this photo, but you get the idea- it isn’t a huge amount of space.

Today, though, I hosted a baby shower for my friend, Julie for 24-25 people and it was perfect.


Here’s that gun-slinging neighbor wife of mine telling her husband she was pregnant. The cake says, “if I have to get fat so do you”.

First of all: here’s how hosting a party would have looked for me before Kon Mari (even though I’ve always been a neat and organized person as stated above).


Here’s how that looked for me post-Kon Mari. First of all, I wasn’t stressed. On Friday, I cleaned my house from top to bottom. This took me approximately 1 hour because 95% of our belongings were already where they were supposed to be- all I had to do was lightly dust and mop floors. I rearranged my furniture and set up all of the decorative touches for the party.* I wasn’t stressed.

This morning, I finished preparing all the food, brought up extra chairs and sat back and waited for my guests to arrive. And I still wasn’t stressed. My guests politely dined on my many delicious offerings and hung out at the ranch from about 10-1. And I wasn’t stressed. By 1:45 I was completely cleaned up from the party (granted I was taking people’s plates and forks out of their hands while they were chewing, but never mind, my house was back in order in under an hour.)


Now, it’s Saturday night and I’m not stressed at all. I hosted a lovely shower for my beloved neighbor wife (you’ve heard of sister wives, right? This is like that except we don’t share husbands), my house is clean and in order, my laundry is done and I am doing one of the things that I love best in this life, which is writing this blog. 

To sum it up: Kon Mari saved me days of stress, freed me to do things I love like share community, bring people together, cook great food and write.

I’d call that a win for Kon Mari.


CELINA - signature

P.S. If you love the party details, here are mine from today:

I bought these Wooden blocks and sharpies so people could decorate a block for Jaxxson to play with, thank you cards for the mother-to-be with envelopes and pens so guests could address their own thank you cards. For decor-a little clothesline with 3 cute onesies, and 3 glass jars of candy to eat, because I love that touch at parties.

For food and drink- easy crock pot vanilla lattes, fruity water (or as Avett calls it ‘pecial water’), an N/A brunch punch, a hash brown egg bake, a french toast casserole, cupcakes, a yogurt bar with granola and lots of berries & nuts. Because I was terrified I would run out of food I also made some cinnamon sugar waffles. You can check out my menus on my pinterest board. Oh, and no shower games, but while opening gifts, we had the gift-giver of the gift being opened, tell everyone how they know Julie allowing us a comfortable and easy chance to get to know one another since we were such a mish-mash of people.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Part 3

Maybe you weren’t impressed with the physical changes around my house. I understand. It’s probably not that drastic to you, especially since I didn’t take any before pictures. That’s fine. In Part 3, I’m going to tell you about the changes in my life. Not the changes in my house. The changes that have happened in my actual life. The real changes.

  1. I don’t carry all the weight of the household duties anymore. Everyone knows where everything goes. Anytime anyone says, “Where is the…?” I know the answer. As I mentioned in part 2, everyone now carries the weight which means less stress for me.
  2. I have time. I am not kidding when I tell you that I have actually created tons of time and space for myself. I get up in the morning to a house that is neat and orderly and all I have to worry about is the day’s tasks. I don’t need to clean or organize anything. It’s all done. I have to get dressed- easy- I only have clothes I love, make lunches for school- easy- I know where lunchboxes and all lunch supplies are. Make breakfast for the kids and get everyone to school. Then…I’m done. The rest of the day is mine. I don’t have to look around at piles of papers, misplaced shoes and other things that don’t bring me joy and feel stressed and upset. My home is organized, so all I have to do is the daily tasks. That frees up a massive amount of time.
  3. I am not stressed. I know. This really does sound too good to be true and I’m sorry about that. But it is true. And it is too good. I think because of my natural organization-loving personality, and my love for extreme living, I was constantly stressed by my space. I was always looking around in dissatisfaction that nothing was “in it’s place”. I felt like I had to clean my floors every night just to have one thing in order. I made a big deal out of everything that wasn’t properly put away because it was one more thing to add to my stress. I thought a new kitchen (which we’ve talked about for a couple of years now) would fix everything. If only….If only we had a new kitchen. If only we finished the basement…But turns out I didn’t need to do any of those things to relieve my stress.
  4. I asked to go camping! When I tell you I have never asked to go camping, I am not lying. But suddenly with all this free time, I felt like I couldn’t wait to go camping. Suddenly camping seemed like the best idea in the world. Because I know where all of our camping stuff is and leaving the house unattended for one weekend is no big deal because I know exactly what I come home to. I come home to an organized, clean neat space and I know where all the camping stuff will go when we get home.
  5. I am a curator of what brings me joy.  Since Kon Mari’ing my home, I know what brings me joy. I love: special candles, air plants & succulents, pillows, alpaca stuff, and comfy blankets. I know what I am on the hunt for because I now know what I love. It’s such an amazing feeling. As I purged my shoes I noted this: I love TOMS, boots, and cute running shoes. I know when I shop for shoes next, I will replace a worn pair of TOMS or get a second color of Birkenstocks. I love knowing that! At 38 years old, I finally know what I like to sleep in. I love Andy’s old, soft tee shirts, one of his hoodies and a pair of comfy sleeping pants. No need to curate any more pajamas. I’ve got all I need. I want you to know that not everyone needs Marie Kondo’s method. I know plenty of people who do not need to read this book or Kon Mari their space. These people are natural curators of stuff. Their homes are a sanctuary to them and to those who visit.My friend Robert is a curator. His home is beautifully furnished with antiques and vintage items. He knows (and tells) the story behind every single item he owns (I am absolutely not exaggerating). His home is amazing and I could spend a week resting in it comfortably. My friends Paul and Kristin are natural curators. They spend money on items they love that they will never find again. I’ve been antiquing with them when they’ve curated two huge paintings for their home. They knew that spending money on these items that brought them joy was entirely worth it. They already knew what would bring joy to them- because they don’t just collect STUFF. They curate. I’ve spent many nights in their home and felt like I was in a hotel. Between the gourmet meals served on beautiful dishes to the well made beds. Their home is a haven. I recently spent the night at my new friend Maggie’s house. As soon as I entered, I knew she was a Kon Mari natural. Her home is sparse, peaceful and beautifully put together. She had soft sheets, an adorable record player and a wall of prints that each had special meaning to her. Being a curator means that you a) know what you like. b) collect it.


    This area above my sink used to have: essential oils, pills, spices and other miscellany. Now it contains things that bring me joy: a couple of great jars, a silver butter dish I found in my basement and an air plant. I love doing dishes because I can look at these things that bring me joy and not all the things that should be somewhere else!

  6. I actually sit with my kids and color and don’t feel like I need to rush!  Without knowing it, my sister in law sent me a timely gift. She sent me an adult coloring book. It came just before I Kon Mari’d. Once I Kon Mari’d I realized that I could sit and color while my kids did homework or played nearby, making myself available to them and being near without being distracted.
  7. I have time and energy for things I am passionate about. This blog may not be the highlight of your day, but I assure you it’s one of the highlights of mine. I LOVE to write. I LOVE The Shabby Alpaca and I’m excited about growing those two things. I love spending time with the kids and not feeling frustrated about what I am not doing that needs to be done.

    I realize this may not be exciting to you. I mean it’s an office space in an unfinished basement. Who cares? I CARE! I literally used to have 3 offices around the house. The upstairs catch-all where we looked through mail (but never had stamps or envelopes!), this area you see here which was more for crafts (which I have moved away from in the wake of building a mobile retail boutique) and the office where the computer was in the spare bedroom. All offices have been moved to this single space and it is JOY!


    My mom and I can work together, the kids can sit beside me at this awesome desk the previous owner left and my sewing machine is stowed but can easily be put where the computer is if I decide to sew. The 16-cubby storage piece is great for all of the office-y things.

So there you have it. This completes my series on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I hope you’ve been inspired to at least read the book (ahem Amanda!).


The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Part 2

Before I show you about how I’ve Kon Mari’d my space, I want to give you a bit of background on me. I think it’s important for you to know that I love and thrive in extremes. We’ve done Dave Ramsey (be debt free) and Whole30 (eat what your body needs, no sugar, no grains and no dairy for 30-days). We’ve had three kids in nine months (have I mentioned that? I don’t tell many people). Whatever I do, I do all the way and then I tell everyone I know about how life-changing that particular thing is.

I have to do something all the way, 100% in order to find the middle ground where I want to live. We don’t do Dave Ramsey 100% anymore because we’ve figured out how to live in the space between what ‘Dave says’ and real life. We aren’t always on Whole30, because we’ve learned how to eat so that we can feel healthy.We go all the way, then we back down.

I say this to tell you that Kon Mari is extreme. There is no gray area here. It’s “get you house in order and do it quickly and in this order”.  With this type of method, I thrive because the “rules” are clear. Amanda is also Kon Mari’ing her space. She hasn’t read the book. She hasn’t even asked me for advise. She’s read couple articles online and she just doing it in her time and her way. Which is fine! To each his own. But my way is this: black/white, do it 100% then back down to normalcy.

When Marie Kondo talks about decluttering quickly, she says six months is an appropriate span of time. I have completed 85% of my house in 14 days. I did the first 65% in 7 days after finishing the book. I actually embarked on this when Andy was out of town: I skipped meals, went to bed late, woke up early, filled bags with trash, recycling and items to donate and prayed he would never see what left the house. Most women don’t want their husbands to see what they bring home from the store. I didn’t want mine to see what I’d thrown away. I’ve probably purged 15-20 large black trash bags of stuff in the last two weeks.

The only categories left are: Christmas decor, mementos and tools/garage. The entire first floor of my house is organized and contains only items that bring me joy. The tools/garage is an area that I am listing here, but it’s Andy’s space and the beauty of Kon Mari is that I don’t have to hound him to do it. He can do whatever he wants with his tools and garage. But I’ll tell you that making this life change for myself, has inspired him and he’s totally on board with no nagging!Slide7

My dad used to say, “There is place for everything and everything has it’s place”. Louie Trotta was the original Marie Kondo. The problem with the Louie method (and the method I used for years) is that the only one who knew where the “right place” was was Louie (or in my own house- me) AND the right place tended to be multiple locations. This does not work for a family of five. Everyone has to know where everything goes.

Which is why this method is so genius. When you store all of one item in one place (example- paper clips) then everyone in your family knows where the paper clips are- and where they should be returned to! So guess what, mom doesn’t always have to be the picker-upper. Everyone in the family is a picker- upper and everyone in the family knows where everything is, so mom isn’t always, “Hang on. Let me find that for you.” Or “Why didn’t you put that away??” We all know where the markers, paper clips, flashlights, batteries and simple tools are located, so we can all do the work!

Here are just a few photos of some areas of my house that now are filled with only things that bring me joy and which have been decluttered with the Kon Mari method. I know they don’t pack the same punch as if I would have taken before pictures. Sorry.


This bookshelf contains only books that bring me joy. The top shelf especially makes me happy. It has only things I love on it. The books are only books I love and cherish. Decluttering books was great fun! It let me look back lovingly on all the things I have been into over the years from marathon training, to emergency prep. This bookshelf had it all.


One of the most satisfying things was decluttering health and beauty items. Throwing away all hotel soaps was like purging blackness from my soul. I’ve had a lot of hair styles and I’ve collected a lot of hair products. They are all now gone and my linen closet has only stuff we need and use.


This cabinet used to be FULL of kids stuff. Papers, crayons, games and toys. It is now nearly empty. There are a few toys of Avett’s, but otherwise- empty. The basket to the left on the vintage school chair is our “this item is out of place” basket. We put everything that has been left somewhere in there and at the end of the day, anyone can put the items in their proper place.


This is the kid’s bookshelf. It is not perfect, but it is close enough. V & E are still kids, so I don’t nag about the condition of their room. Once a week or so, we get the place back in order and that’s that.


My closet is nothing short of beauty for me. Every piece of clothing I own- winter, summer, swimming- it’s all in there. I took the doors off and moved the dresser inside because I had plenty of room. The top shelf has scarves, bags, hats and boots. But it’s all there and I love everything in it.


My bedroom is a complete and total sanctuary. I’ve tripled my floor space. There’s room for the dog, Eloise when she can’t sleep in her own room, a chair (not pictured) and a laundry basket that brings me joy.

Now that you’ve seen what brings me joy, I do have a few tips of my own to add to Marie’s method. Because she is clearly single and not an American, there are a few things I think should be noted.

Tip #1: Involve your kids

When Andy was out of town, I took the opportunity to do all the kid’s stuff with Vaughn and Eloise. We went through every piece of clothing, every game, every paper they ever took a pencil to and asked each other, “Does this bring you joy?” Everntually, all you could hear as we quickly sorted through books and miscellany was, “Joy, Eloise?” “Joy, Vaughn?” I fully let my kids be a part of this and I wouldn’t have dared tackle it on my own. I learned a lot about them as we sorted through their few belongings. I learned what books they love and why, what mementos they keep and why and what toys really bring them joy. It was a great experience to go through this together! The beauty for me with involving my kids is that I no longer have to fuss when something is out of place. Now I calmly say, “I feel like you are disrespecting the hard work we did by not returning this item to it’s proper place.” The kids get this and it’s not me vs. them anymore; it’s us plus hard work.

Tip #2: Work as quickly as possible; results beget results

As I said, I love extremes. When I set up to do this, I ensured I didn’t have much else going on (like I ever do?). I knew I had a couple of slow weeks in which I could get as much done as possible. Because I am not a hoarder and because I was already “organized”, this really didn’t take too long. But start with your clothes as she says, because when you can look at your bedroom and suddenly it’s a sanctuary, you’ll keep going!

Tip #3: Don’t try and sell anything

I always have a box of stuff that is for the garage sale I’m going never going to have. The last time I had a garage sale was two years ago. So, I always have a box of shit that I am not going to sell or use. It’s pointless. As I sorted through my stuff, I did have a few moments of regret for items which I paid top dollar and am now donating. But I let my heart be glad that someone else will have that stuff. Once I decided that I was doing this, I HAD to get all the stuff that didn’t bring me joy out of my house. If you have an ample amount of space and you want to dedicate a room for stuff you’ll sell, great. But I just don’t recommend it. I think it impedes progress. It’s easier to just sort by “trash”, “recycling” and “give away”.

Tip #4: Save any IRS papers or anything related to an official legal matter

Marie’s take on papers is very simple: “Rule of thumb- discard everything”. I actually laughed out loud at this and how forward and frank it was. I loved the sense of freedom encroaching on me as I imagined dumping bin after bin of paper into the recycling bin. But, it was not to be exactly that way. Apparently, the IRS can ruin your life in one fell swoop. So, we kept the past tax returns. We’ve also adopted internationally, which means if there was ever some kind of dispute about anything, we’d really need documentation. So, we kept all our adoption papers. Other than that, we did dispose of lots of papers. We’ve downgraded from a filing cabinet to one of those little boxes that I think college students use for their papers. So, no filing cabinet and small storage for papers= no hanging onto papers!

Tip #5: There are some things you just need to disregard when you read the book

I didn’t thank a single one of my belongings as I was disposing of them (and I certainly didn’t get offended at her suggestion to do so- to each his own). I did thank God and I did try and remember why I bought that or when it did bring me joy. But, I disregarded her tip that you must thank each item. I didn’t quite get if Marie wanted you to finish your whole house before you put things away or finish a category and then put things away, but I couldn’t have finished my whole house and then put things away. As I did each category, I put it away items where I wanted them to go. This made rooms clean up really easy and quick even though I was sorting by category.

In part 3, I’ll share about actual internal changes that have happened in my life because of this method.

If you missed part 1, read it here!

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Part 1

Well, Neighbors, Amanda is busy teaching rich and famous people how to love and train their children, so I’ll fill the blog this week with a fun series about magic! Ok, not magic exactly, but something like it.

Welcome to a three-part series on a book that has totally and completely changed my life. As you know, I love to read. I read a lot of books and many of them change my life in one way or another. But this book. This book has totally and completely changed the way I live revolutionized my entire life. I’m not being dramatic here, either. This book is actually magic.

22318578A few weeks ago, I wrote a note to myself in my journal/to do list/book of ideas that it was time for me to go through my many boxes of mementos. I knew that it was time to sort through my photos, my journals, the photos I salvaged from my dad’s house after he died and the many unnecessary letters, keepsakes and nick-nacks I have kept for years. A week after I wrote that note on my to-do list, this book became available to me at the library (I had requested it earlier). I’m a bit of a bandwagoner and although I’d read nothing about this book, I’d seen it many places and heard that it was good (that’s really all it takes for me to read a book…).

I read the book through in three days, closed the cover, started again and immediately ordered a copy for myself from Amazon. It had so much of an impact and I didn’t want to let it go until I’d seen the magic for myself. I’ve said to people since I read it, “It’s so good, it’s cultish.” As in, it’s totally black and white and you either do it or you don’t. Drink the Koolaid or don’t. Tidy up or don’t. Go to Jonestown or don’t.

Anyway, in Part 1, I am going to give you the very basics of the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (also called Kon Mari method). You can read this information anywhere on the web (or read the book yourself, which I obviously recommend) but since I will be sharing the personal impact, I want you to have the basics of Kon Mari right here in black and white.

Here are Marie Kondo’s tips for tidying up:

  • Keep only the things that bring you joy
    • “Take each item in one hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
  • Decide what to keep, not what to get rid ofSlide81
  • Sort by category, not by room
    • “When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish.” i.e. paper clips, pencils, crayons….
  • Finish discarding first
    • “Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding”
    • “But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
  • This is a one and done procedure; no more daily/weekly tidying
    • “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mindset.”
    • “People can’t change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
  • File, don’t pile things
    • “When we pile our clothes one on top of the other, the clothes at the bottom are used less and less frequently.”


  • Storage is a booby trap
    • “Store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space”
  • The last category you should sort through is mementos
    • “By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past“.Slide10

As you can tell by the last bullet point, this book is obviously a timely gift. I knew I needed to process my past as part of my journey, and since the magic has entered my life, I will soon be doing just that.

Regarding my own house… In Part 2, I will tell you what I have completed in the 14 days since I read this book. However, I will not show you photos of my old space. I was so eager to do this, I literally took no photos. I kept thinking I should take a “before” picture since I knew I would be blogging about this. But I never did, I was so excited to just get to it (by category of course!). If you want to see before and after photos, the internet is full of them. Just Google it or search Pinterest. There is no shortage of information or images on this topic.

If you want to know what my house looked like before, I’ll tell you this, I have always been an organized person. I’ve always tried my best to have a neat and orderly space, to put things away. I loved baskets, boxes and other clever storage things. No one who came in my house would say it was cluttered or messy. I’ve always loved throwing things away and keeping things in their rightful places and I never kept what I felt was unnecessary.  I did all the stuff we all try our best to do to not live in total chaos. So, if you want to see my house before Kon-Mari, maybe just look around your own house. It’s probably about the same. If you are doing your best, but can’t seem to keep up, then that was me.

Until next time, when I reveal the magic!