The Life Changing Magic

So this year one of my goals was to spend more time reading and to make my own home a priority in getting it to the same level of comfort as I work so hard to help my clients get to in their homes.

"The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo, KonMari Method, KonMari, LIfechanging Magic, Life Changing, Tidying UP, Organization, Spring Cleaning, Sorting, Home, Japanese art of decluttering, declutter

Well I’m busy, so time to read ends up falling pretty low on the totem pole, but I had heard so much about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo that I thought maybe that would be a good way to get two birds. Read something that helps me get my own home more in order.

So again, with no time to read, I posted on Facebook about audio book apps and what people thought of them. Most of my friends left comments raving about both Audibles and Overdrive, and I would be willing to try either, however Overdrive is a free service that works in connection with library systems so it is only as good as the library you are linked to and Audibles is a monthly fee for one book per month or a higher fee for multiple books. You can look into more on that here, but I ultimately decided to download Overdrive and connected using my Mom’s library card to start and see about the service.

Her library is amazing and so far has had every title I have searched for and I’m on my third book with more on hold… I might be addicted to audio books. 

That said, the first book we listened to was the life changing magic, to learn the KonMari method. I say we because I wanted to make sure that P and I listened together so that we could work on the process together, sense after all we share the 525SF space equally with equal amounts of possessions that add to our chaos and do not bring us joy.

We started listening to the book on Monday the 18th I want to say. On Friday the 22nd there was a blizzard brewin’ so I stopped at Home Goods on my way home to buy some organizational baskets and things. Friday night we listened to more of the book and Saturday morning we listened throughout brunch until we got to a point where we felt we had heard enough to get the concept and start working on it. (This was about 2/3 through the book where she had completed discussing the order of the process and how the process works, so we were in a good place really to start.)

"The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo, KonMari Method, KonMari, LIfechanging Magic, Life Changing, Tidying UP, Organization, Spring Cleaning, Sorting, Home, Japanese art of decluttering, declutter

Everything all laid out, ready to sort. No judgement!

I have to say, at first it was hard and I did end up with a lump in my throat sorting through some items. P and I discussed it and he said that he learned after a few ‘tough’ items to figure out, he realized that he really knew which way he should go on them and some things were just harder to detach from, but if they don’t look good, feel good, etc., then do they really bring you joy just taking up space?

We moved past the hump, finishing our clothes and by Sunday morning our closet was put back together in such a stunning way, and we had rearranged our bedroom minimally but gained so much space in the process! (Can’t wait to share more on this down the road!)

The order that Marie Kondo discusses in her book is first clothing, then books, papers, komono and mementos. Komono is a Japanese term that basically covers all of the miscellaneous items you may have, such as linens, cleaning products, medicines, accessories around the home, kitchen goods (from dishes to the items in your pantry), etc., so this is a vast category to get through.

Sunday we worked through all of our books, then started on the komono (there is a specific list/order to follow mentioned in the book).

Monday after work, we went through our papers, realizing we had skipped this necessary and evil step.

Tuesday we sorted through a few more areas of komono in the morning, and then started taking a few things to the car to donate.

Tuesday night we took out our narrow dresser that had been in our closet along with our old filing cabinet, both now empty, down to the street (in JC if you put any furniture on the curb, people will come pick it up in under 24 hours) and someone else had picked them up by the time I got home from work the next evening. The last few nights and mornings upon coming and going to work, we have taken a few more items and loaded them into the car.

This morning, I took the first car load to the Goodwill Donation Center. In this car-load alone, we donated 10 garbage bags of clothing/shoes/accessories, 2 boxes of ‘komono,’ 2 folding chairs. At home we still have 3 bags of closthing/komono, one box of books and one more folding chair to donate that wouldn’t fit in the car this time around. That and we still have about half of the komono category to go through. Not to mention, we have also taken something like 6 bags down to the garbage and recycling (mostly recycling when we can!) since we started sifting through everything, and we have one stuffed bag to take to the shredder.

Here is what I am feeling throughout this process. First of all, holy shit. How is it possible that we even had so many things just sitting around, stuffed in corners and hidden away in the back of our closet that we truly don’t love?! That in and of itself is crazy. Second of all, I feel amazing. I am starting to feel lighter in my space.

When I would come home from work before, it was always hard for me to feel calm. I always felt like there was something that had to be taken care of because there is always stuff everywhere and surfaces covered. Especially doing what I do I have always felt a bit of guilt that my home doesn’t look and feel as beautiful as my clients do.

Homes should be lived in, and that means they should have stuff. You should have things that are meaningful to you laying out on your surfaces. Things that when you see them bring you joy. But you shouldn’t have a seemingly bottomless pile of junk mail covering a section of your kitchen counter no matter how many times you clear away that section. You shouldn’t have your electronics (laptops, iPads, etc.) just laying around on the coffee table. And you shouldn’t have a pile of miscellaneous crap just sitting on the table for no good reason. For these reasons, I am completely absorbed and invested in the KonMari method. The life changing magic is no joke.

I can feel our life changing. I can feel the weight of the things that don’t matter to us that have been filling our lives being lifted away.

For now, things are still in a state of chaos as we are still sifting through things one day at a time and around the time when we are at work or my client appointments, etc., because this takes time. The more you have, the longer it can take. In the book Marie Kondo says that it can take up to 6 months for some people… I’m aiming to be done in less than one just because I don’t do well with things up in the air-I need some sense of finality, but I also want it to be done right, so we will get it done when we can.

We have still been listening to the book and are just about finished with it. I have started to get really excited about what this ‘life change’ means for us moving forward. I think we will be so much more comfortable and relaxed in our home.

I will report back once we are truly finished with the process and the book as a whole, but I had to share what we have been up to and how amazing it has been so far. It is certainly not easy, and I wouldn’t recommend starting the process without considering what it means and if you are really mentally/emotionally/physically ready for the grueling process. I also have to say that having your spouse (or house-mates) on board is HUGE. For me, knowing that P is in this with me has been so wonderful. I feel supported and that it is a joint effort to move forward with a tidier lifestyle, and thus I feel my efforts are not wasted but matched.

Have you heard all the rage on the KonMari method and this book? Do you buy it? Do you want to try it? If you have questions, chime in in the comments section, I’m happy to help if I can!

Let’s be social! Follow DBK on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss a thing!

Perfection is the Enemy

Last year at this time, I was swamped. I was doing so many things and feeling awful about it all. The fact that my house had little to no holiday decor really had me feeling down in the dumps.

Perfection Quote by Rebecca Stone

The thing is, I love the holidays and I love home decor (duh). So when I was seeing all the perfect spaces people were sharing all over social media, I felt like I was failing because my life wasn’t perfect.

But I learned such a huge lesson! This perfect image that we all put forth is a front. Nobody is perfect, and to idealize them that way is just setting yourself up for self hate. Really you should be lifting yourself up with others that you admire. Learn to appreciate what you see but know your own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t compare yourself to that ‘perfect’ image that someone else is putting out there.

Especially at this time of year, things are busy. Work is hectic with end of year stuff, life is busy with holiday season commitments, tis the season for all things sparkly and magical and chances are, you want to be included in that magic. So do yourself a favor and give yourself a set day to work through your holiday magic. Set up a few fun vignettes and change out the wreath on your door.

Don’t over-commit yourself this season. This year, we are going to be out of town for Christmas meeting my parents and sister for a little vacation and it will be the first time we have had Christmas with them since P and I started dating. I am so looking forward to it! But I also know that it means, less holiday parties, a little added work stress making sure things are all settled before we leave, and not as much time at home to soak up my holiday decor. And ya know what? I’m okay with that… I’m looking forward to it actually because this year, my holiday season is going to be amazing inspiration, and so much fun!!

I hope this quote hits home for you as much as it does for me! Rebecca Stone really says it well, “Perfection is not only the enemy of good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible and the fun.” The other good quote that comes to mind is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Because if everything in life was the same picture perfect scene all the time, everything would be so boring anyway.

I hope you all get to enjoy this holiday season, I can’t wait to share more decor and inspiration with you!! The abridged version of this Rebecca Stone quote in the graphic is shared on a background of Benjamin Moore’s Forest Green, which made me think of Christmas Trees and Holiday Wreaths! I can’t wait to deck the halls at our condo!

Let’s be social! Follow DBK on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss a thing!

Chicken Taco Soup

The crock pot is probably one of the most used small kitchen appliances in the condo. It would be first if it weren’t for both my husband’s and my love – and need – for coffee. We use it so much in fact, that this recipe I’m sharing was our crock pot’s last before going into the graveyard. We killed the crock pot. Oops.

Chicken Taco Soup 1 Chicken Taco Soup 2

Dinners that cook in the crock are some of my favorites. You come home to a house smelling delicious, you don’t have to worry about what you have to cook after a long day and they are so family friendly. So what can you cook in a crock? The recipes are endless… Google “crock pot” and see for yourself. If you are having a hard time, narrow it down by adding your meat of choice or the word “vegetarian” and boom, dinners for days.

This Chicken Taco Soup is a version of a recipe my mom makes. I don’t use a recipe anymore, just a guideline of what to put in. You can do your chicken breasts, fresh or frozen, they will cook either way in the crock, just be sure to add some time if they are frozen. Add your beans and corn, of course chicken broth (typically one box) and finish it off with your favorite taco seasoning. If you care to spice it up, you can add jalapeños or a can of diced green chilies. When you serve it up, you can add a dollop of sour cream, some sliced avocado and a side of quesadillas. It is sure to be a dinner that will please you and your kiddos. It is simple and flavorful, good on a sunny summer night with a complimentary margarita, or a chilly snow day all the same.

Chicken Taco Soup 5Chicken Taco Soup 4Chicken Taco Soup 3

So, what are you having for dinner? And do you love your crock pot as much as I do? I’d love to hear some of your go-to recipes for your crock pot!

Now that the dinner is ready to go, I’m off to remove the snowballs from Brantley’s paws; he loves snow days! Enjoy what is hopefully the last snow day of the season!

Motivation Monday {Move Mountains}

Happy Monday friends! I love these words from Napoleon Bonaparte. They are beautiful and they take me back to the days in English class reading verses of poetry or lines from plays and breaking them down to really analyze all their potential meaning.

Move Mountains

In this case, we can take it personally to mean that it is so important for us to rest up. When we sleep, we gear up for all that we have ahead of us and we are really able to do incredible things.

We can take it in a seasonal sense. This Winter seemed to come a bit late around the New York metro/New England areas, and it seems to be lingering a bit longer than anyone would like. I think we are all ready to move on to spring. But in this sense, if we can just wit, let the sunnier seasons rest, get through what’s left of the winter, there will be beautiful days ahead.

How do you interpret these words? I’d love to see what you think!

Winter Neutrals

This season I have made a point to get out more. We have hiked, walked and wandered quite a bit, and through it all we have taken some pictures. I took one of the scenes from our hike a few weeks back and put in some Farrow & Ball paint colors that create a lovely neutral color scheme that could be implemented in your home or wardrobe year round!

Winter Neutrals Color Scheme

Are you a fan of these winter neutrals? The inset colors from left to right are: Blackened, Skylight, Plummett and Mahogany. Soon spring will be upon us, and we can bring some brighter colors into the schemes.

Making the Most of Winter {Homemade Marshmallows}

One of my most amazing friends helped in the planning of my bachelorette party last fall and for the hotel room, she made us treats! The thing that everyone loved the most was the homemade marshmallows. They were so good!

Winter Series Marshmallows

When I started thinking about this winter series and fun activities to do through the colder months, I knew I had to try my had at making marshmallows, so I scoured PInterest for a good recipe, got the ingredients and began!

I followed an awesome recipe by The Urban Poser and she even has a very helpful video tutorial to go along with it so I would definitely recommend linking over for the full recipe and post!

Here’s a peek at my process. Overall I would say it was not only a mangeable project but it was a fun way to spend some time in and hubby was very pleased with the end result. One of the things I liked about this recipe was the use of honey. You can definitely taste the honey flavor coming through instead of a traditional marshmallow flavor, but I like them nonetheless.

The other thing is that I didn’t (and still don’t) have a candy thermometer. To be honest, I’m not much of a baker, and I certainly don’t see myself getting all excited about making candies or chocolates, so for this activity I just used my freshly sanitized meat thermometer. And although it doesn’t go up high enough, I was able to figure out when the boiling honey water concoction was ready to mix in!

The marshmallows came out great! They are a delicious winter treat and perfect to dunk in your cocoa after a snow day! Have you made marshmallows? It was easier than I thought and I can guarantee your family won’t be disappointed!

Making the Most of Winter {Cozy at Home}

Okay so for the past few days I’ve been trying to convince you all to get outside and enjoy the winter scenery, but today, I’m going to share how I keep cozy at home. Afterall, it’s all about keeping things balanced.

Winter Series Snuggles 7

For me, the best cozy day starts in bed and stays in bed. I love to snuggle up under the covers or just lounge on a pile of pillows with my favorite things. For me, the main thing is giving myself permission to put my to-do list on hold and spend some time relaxing. It is so healthy, mentally and emotionally, to give yourself a break every once in a while and just let yourself really turn everything off and relax.

So that is exactly what I did! I pulled over my Vittsjo table from IKEA, with my candles and roses and hunkered down. I spend some time reading, scrolling through Instagram, knitting and most importantly snuggling with Brantley! It was probably the best afternoon I’ve had in a long time and I would seriously recommend it!

The only thing I would change about this afternoon is our bedding. We are seriously in need of bedding and I have been researching what I want to get since that White Sale post a while back. P & I had registered for a bunch of new bedding but we didn’t end up receiving any of the pieces, so we are also debating buying ourselves some of the pieces from our registry with gift card money we received.

But I also recently discovered a little site called Parachute Home that deals with bedding in a way that leaves me quite intrigued. First, they donate a portion of their sales to send insecticide treated bed nets (in partnership with Nothing But Nets) to areas in need in Africa. Secondly, they speak highly about the way they work to bring together simple and good quality sheets.

They design everything in Los Angeles, manufacture in Italy and they dye using a natural process to reduce the impact on the environment – which my sustainable side loves. But mostly they are made to bring incredible sheeting to you at an affordable price. I can really relate to what the founder says about why the business was started. To recreate that Italian hotel sleep experience without blowing your monthly rent on bedding. P and I went to Italy on our honeymoon and I’m telling you, the bedding was insane.

All that said, I really am very picky about my bedding, so I have ordered some swatches to find out if these Parachute Home sheets feel as fabulous as they sound! (And to see which color I would select for our space.) I’m so excited for them to come so I can report back on what I think!

All said and done, whatever bedding you have and whatever your favorite things to do to hunker down with on a chilly day, this is a great way to push the pause button on winter and take some time for you to truly relax this season!

Making the Most of Winter {Take a Hike!}

As I mentioned yesterday, getting outside is a surefire way to kick the winter blues. As long as you make sure you are bundled up, you might be cold, but you shouldn’t freeze! Break out those layers and get outside!

Winter Series Hike 1

The second activity to make the most of winter is to take a hike! Seriously! The winter air is crisp and refreshing and the foliage has all dropped, making for great conditions for soaking up the views without overheating.

P & I opted to take Brantley with us on our hike. A lot of trails, parks and beaches that aren’t pet friendly will allow dogs off season, so it’s the perfect time to get your pup’s energy out too!

We searched and found a trail up near the George Washington Bridge that was stated to have incredible views of the city. However, the day that we opted to hike it was insanely overcast with freezing rain. But it was all planned out so we made it happen, and even though I think we really were chilled to the bone when we hopped back in the car, we felt great! We got to check out a new trail, run down Brantley’s energy and really had a good time.

This is an activity that is completely family friendly, though I would recommend going on a day when it isn’t freezing raining. I think this could be really fun in the winter whether it is clear or snowing.

Are you an outdoorsy person? What is your favorite time of year to hike? I dare you to try it this winter and see what you think! If we could make the most of a hike in freezing rain, you can at least put it on your list 🙂

Making the Most of Winter {Downtown}

One of the easiest things you can do to kill those winter blues is get outside and soak up how pretty winter can make everything.

Winter Series, Walk Downtown 1

I suggest exploring your local downtown, whether it involves skyscrapers or little boutiques, everyone is inevitably within 30 minutes of some variation of downtown. (Cue Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”)

I made P get all bundled up with me and walk around downtown Jersey City. We explored the Newport area, where they have a beautiful waterfront walkway spanning from Jersey City to Hoboken. It is fun to take in the views of the local area, and you get a chance to see your downtown in a new light.

After wandering around the waterfront trail, it began to get a bit darker out and we headed over to the Grove Street area to check out some shops and restaurants.

Many of the shops are not pictured because I was having fun just soaking in JC at night in the winter (swoon), but I did capture a few of the places and had a bite to eat as well.

What is your local city center? Is it more urban or suburban? Have you ever tried to appreciate its beauty in the winter? I strongly recommend checking it out. From my experience, everything is a bit more sparkly. There is just something about ducking into a little shop or restaurant to get away from the cold that is so perfect.

I hope you all get bundled up in your winter gear and go check it out with your family!

Some favorite JC spots that are not pictured:

Kanibal Home

JC Made

Two Stix & A String

E Tittlemouse & Co

Word

Downtown Yogurt

Taqueria

Left Bank Burger Bar

WHOS Gluten Free

Mod Cup Coffee

Making the Most of Winter

Hey, it’s wintertime! I have heard so many people saying things like, “it is so cold out,” or “I’m ready for summer,” or any number of other choice words for this season, so I wanted to shed a little light… Last week the groundhog said we only have 6 more weeks of winter, let’s make the most of it!

Winter Series Graphic

I think what bogs us down about winter is the weather, especially if you live in a climate where it has been snowing or freezing rain – or just plain freezing – for so long. It is gray and dreary out; it gets dark so early, and it is just so damned cold! But on the bright side, in six months, we will likely all be complaining about how hot it is.

I’ve put together a list of five fun activities to make it through these last six weeks of winter in a happier fashion – with less complaining and more fun. These activities are fun for everyone, so I hope you enjoy following along this week while we gear up for a fabulous winter!

Winter Series Graphic 2

This week, we are going to explore the joy of a wintery walk in your local downtown neighborhood, take a winter hike, make our own marshmallows for the inevitable hot cocoa that we will be in need of when we come in from playing in the snow, and finally we will discuss the major benefits of taking a snow day from work and staying cozied up inside, preferably not leaving your PJs all day.

I hope you are excited to follow along with our winter fun!