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The KonMari Method: My Closet


After visiting Lar in Scotland last month, I was so impressed with how organized and spacious her 550 square foot flat felt. It’s all because of her devotion to Marie Kondo’s “life changing tidying-up” techniques. Read Lar’s original KonMari post if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. So I decided it was high time for me to jump on the tidying-up bandwagon and get started with the hardest category (for me, at least): clothes.

I’m totally embarrassed to show these before photos, but without them, you wouldn’t get the full “life changing” feel. So, here you go. My “closet” before:



My house was built in 1947 and has teeny, tiny closets by 2015 standards. Troy uses the small closet in the master bedroom and I use the second bedroom as my closet. I always imagined getting built-ins one day, but not anytime soon. So my closet consisted of two Ikea clothing racks, a Target cube storage unit and piles of shoes. Yes. I was ashamed of my closet.


So I spent one Sunday sorting through all of my clothes category by category and deciding which pieces “sparked joy” and were worth keeping. Marie Kondo believes that you have to sort through similar items all at once. So that means going through every item of clothing in your house – winter/summer clothes, coats, pjs – everything. It was pretty overwhelming to see exactly how many tops, pants, bags, scarves, jewelry, shoes etc. I had.



It took at least five hours: sorting everything, deciding what to keep, bagging up everything to give away, deciding what to fold and hang, folding almost everything (another Marie Kondo technique), reorganizing, and putting everything away. I gave away over nine trash bags full of clothes, shoes and jewelry to Second Life, my local thrift store. And after all of that, this is what I have left:


The photo above includes all of my clothes (minus jackets and coats), shoes, and scarves that I currently own and it feels amazing! Everything except some blouses and four dresses are folded KonMari style:


Including my socks and underwear. Yep. Underwear gets folded.


The fascinator is the only hat I kept and out of 20+ scarves, I only kept three:


Apart from five rings and three bangles, this board contains all of my jewelry:


And these are the bags that I kept:


Part of me can’t believe I gave away so much and the other part of me can’t believe I kept so much stuff for so long. It’s been a week since I’ve done my big clean-out and I still feel great about it. The only items I’m missing are a good black cardigan (the one I owned got a lot of use but it didn’t spark joy because it was shapeless and worn-looking), another pair of jeans (I only kept one pair!), and a winter coat.

The best part was that I didn’t buy any new organizational items. I used all the furniture I already have. Yes, someday I would like to own a proper dresser, but I’m fine spending my time saving up for something I really like. Until then, the Target cube unit will do just fine.

If you want more KonMari inspiration, read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, peruse Lar’s KonMari purse post and follow my friend’s KonMari-devoted Instagram account. Also Goop has a pretty great KonMari folding guide complete with videos.

Sorting through my clothes is only the beginning. I’d like to spend one to two weekends a month tackling different categories. I think books are up next followed by all of my papers. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

KonMari Your Purse


Dear Cath

You know how last fall I KonMari Method-ed our flat? Well, that Marie Kondo did not lie about her tidying magic. Our flat still stays tidy most of the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to put things away — there always seems to be mail sitting on the coffee table or a lone sock sqiuggling its way free of the laundry basket. But the difference is that now there is a place for it all to be put away. And it feels so satisfying! That leads me to this KonMari suggestion:


I was so resistant to this idea when I first read her book. I thought, “Marie, I’m with you on the getting rid of stuff and the tidying and the empathizing with your socks, but I draw the line at emptying out my purse every night!” My logic was that I need the same stuff in my purse almost every single day: wallet, lippie, tissues, phone, etc. That never changes so why should I just move that stuff around from one spot to another. That just sounded like one more thing I had to do every night after a long day at work.

But even with all my reasoning, I caved and listened to Marie because she was so right about everything else (my socks feel so happy now — I know it!). But I still felt a little grumpy about the whole thing. Come home, hang up coat, and unpack purse.

But the thing is, she was right. I didn’t realise how much extra stuff I accumulated in my purse day-to-day. Even though I’ve always carried a big purse, I always told myself I knew what was in there. Lies, lies! There are those extra bobby pins hiding in the inner pocket and those crunched up receipts that provide a nice crinkly cushion to my wallet. And the worst culprit? That junior mint that snuck out of its box at the movies and got cozy with the bottom of my purse (and everything else within reach of its deliciously minty gooey centre — curses!).

Now that I empty my purse every night, I never forget things that I need that day (and have never had another junior mint episode). I thought the opposite would happen because I used to like to pack my bag at night so in the morning I wouldn’t have to think about what goes in it. Turns out, thinking about it in the morning is better — I’ve never forgotten anything yet. How does this never-forgetting-magic work? Enter: the purse box:

Kon Mari purse organizing

Because this is the KonMari method, you need a dedicated place to put all your purse items. Marie suggests having a shoe box in your chest-of-drawers or on a shelf. I keep mine next to my sock box in a drawer (yes, a sock box). This felt so weird when I first started doing it, but now I can’t imagine not having a purse box. Here’s what it looks like in said drawer (note tidy method sock-folding still intact after 5 months of beginning KonMari):

Kon Mari purse

You’ll notice that my purse items consist of smaller bags. Cath, I learned that from you! I put extra bits like eyedrops, lipstick, bobby pins and perfume. That makes it so much easier to take things out every night: keeping things together in smaller bags.


I’ve used the silver Claire Vivier pouch that you gave me for years — it’s the perfect size.

Kon Mari AsianCajuns

Oh and this is my new Baggu tote I got a few weeks ago. I love it! Made in the USA with leather sourced in Argentina, it’s like buttah! It’s the perfect size and I don’t actually lose things at the bottom. The straps are the perfect length to swing on your arm without worrying about it catching on your elbow (that should have a name — the elbow swing test).

I know to some people all this tidying sounds extreme, but it has really helped me stay on top of my clutter in my house and in my purse. I feel less frantic living with less clutter. Overall, whenever I follow any of Marie Kondo’s tips, even if they sound silly or extreme at first, I feel much calmer once they are in place and I’ve gotten used to the weirdness of them.

Love you more than Marie Kondo loves reused shoe boxes!


Happy Homemade Christmas!

Hello Dearest Lar!!

It’s been too long! I figured that as soon as I finished my finals I would have plenty of time to clean my house, write blog posts, and just get my life organized. Ha! How silly of me. Between work, catching up with friends, and getting ready for Christmas I’ve hardly had any free time.

Last weekend I spent every waking hour making Christmas presents. Since I’ve been trying my best not to spend any money I’ve been determined to make as many presents as possible.

This year Lena and I decided to make cinnamon ornaments for everyone at the office. We roughly followed the instructions on this blog and made a few additions:

cinnamon ornament dough

We used letter stamps to personalize the ornaments:

cinnamon ornaments letter stamps

cinnamon ornaments cath and lena

The dough darkens as it bakes and it became hard to see the stamped letters on the ornaments. So we outlined the letters with a silver paint pin. Festive, no?

cinnamon ornaments

Lena found some really cute bags and tags to wrap the ornaments and my house still smells like cinnamon. Homemade office prezies FTW!

cinnamon ornaments packaged

I also made some marbled clay ring dishes. Do you remember Sculpey clay?! We used to make so many beads (and dollhouse food) with the stuff. Well, these bowls are made of Sculpey clay (plus some gold paint and Mod Podge).

clay jewelry bowl steps

clay ornaments rolling pin

I ended up making teeny tiny dishes for rings from the left over clay. I think I like them even better than the larger ones!

clay jewelry bowls

Just tell me which color combo you like best and I’ll make a large and small dish for you 🙂

I’m also making a gift for Troy, but since he reads this blog, I’ll tell you about it after Christmas.

You know what I realized? This is the first Christmas we won’t be celebrating together – ever! It almost doesn’t feel right, but I’m trying not to think too much about it. Next time we see each other we’re going to have to have a little mini Christmas. Deal?

I can’t wait to hear about your Christmas Eve dinner and Home Alone-watching Christmas day!

xoxo, Cath

Real Kitchen Inspiration From Iceland

Dear Lar,

This post is kind of the opposite of the Konmari method of organizing. I forget how I stumbled upon these Kitchens of Iceland photos by Emily Johnston (possibly via Cup of Jo), but I just fell in love with them.

Not only are they great photos, I just love, love, love the imperfect, messiness of the kitchens. Even though we’re more Type A’s and love organization, we’ve both talked about getting so bored with all the “perfectness” that you see on social media these days. It’s all started to look the same: the perfectly styled coffee table, that plaid scarf and Valentino (or Valentino-inspired) heels, the touch of glitter, everyone being able to eat stuff like this, drink these, and still look like this, etc. It’s not real life.

So, in the name of keeping it real, here are current photos from my kitchen inspired by Emily Johnston (but not nearly as good). In a perfect world, I would have already painted the cabinets and walls white, replaced the hardware, installed some kind of cool backsplash, ditched the dirty sponge, and figured out a better use of counter space. But none of that is going to happen anytime soon – although, I did throw out the sponge this week 😉

red kitchen appliances

caths kitchen sink

I find that I’ve started following more blogs that don’t have picture after picture of perfect styling. Authenticity! That’s the word I’ve been looking for! I just want to see more authentic living. I find that so much more compelling.

Now, on a totally unrelated note, here are some links that I forgot to tell you about when we were skyping today:

• It’s almost dinner time and I’m thinking about making this because I have a spaghetti squash that Lena’s mom brought me from a Michigan farm a few weeks ago.
• Totally out of season, but I can’t believe these are sold by Payless. I love their high-end designer fugliness. I would get them in black and wear them with black shorts and a slouchy navy blue sweater – in the spring.
• On a completely irresponsible whim I bought this outfit for the holidays online. It arrived on Friday. It’s getting returned this Monday. I looked like a sparkly, navy blue marshmallow.
I was going to say, “I hope you have a great short work week!” but then realized there is no Thanksgiving in Scotland. Duh. So I hope you have a great regular week. I can’t wait to see photos from your week-long, relaxing holiday on the coast!
xoxo, Cath

Tidying Magic: the KonMari Method


Dear Cath

I clean begrudgingly but I love to organize. It feels like I’m putting in order the scattered contents of my brain. I know you like to do it just as much as I do, if not more so. It almost seems backward that I’ve read this book and you haven’t (darn that academic reading getting in the way of your magical tidying!).

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. That title sounds a little overblown, doesn’t it? Ignore the slightly-screw translations (Marie Kondo’s tidy-guru status is still mainly Japan-based), this book is awesome. Maybe it’s not as awesome if you don’t list toward Type A on the personality scale, but it all felt very right to me. I couldn’t put it down and felt bereft when I finished it. A nonfiction book! About organising! Compelling stuff. Really and truly. I felt like a zen monk when I read it — even the part where you anthropomorphize your socks (remember how I couldn’t throw away that laundry-basket full of slippers when I was a teenager because I felt to guilty about how lonely and sad they would feel rotting in a land fill somewhere?).

Don’t let the sock thing deter you though. This book will make sense even if you don’t attach human feelings to inanimate objects.

Here are the main tenets of the KonMari Method:

• Marie Kondo (KonMari is her nickname, hence the name of the method) doesn’t believe in tidying day in and day out. You do it all in an unspecified, short period of time and then you don’t ever have to do a massive tidy session ever again. In. Your. Life. Because everything you love and keep will have a place to go.

• You start tidying by categories in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental items.

• The method to tidying each category is as follows: discard anything that does not “spark joy.” Do not start putting things away or organise anything until you have picked up each item you own and felt if it either sparked or fizzed.

“Sparking joy” does seem really vague, and quite honestly I found this the hardest part to do. But it was really, really helpful to be forced to take out each object I own and really look at it and evaluate how much I love something. It turns out I do in fact love that ugly Columbia fleece jacket I have as well as my lemon juicer. And I got rid of some things that totally surprised me at the time because I used them a lot — and now I can’t even recall what they were (just 2 weeks after I sent them off to Salvation Army).

Tidying my flat

I don’t think you are meant to do the method in one weekend, but I was motivated by the fact that I have become quasi minimalist in the past few years. And because our flat is so tiny, there isn’t much room to keep . much. That’s not to say I hadn’t squirreled away a bunch of stuff. I donated 10 large bags to Salvation army and had about five bags of trash and recycling at the end of my tidy weekend.

In the images below the “before” pics show you the bedroom and lounge/kitchen with everything that I own pulled out of closets, drawers and cabinets. The “after” pics are what’s left once everything has been discarded or put away.

KonMari discard bedroom

KonMari tidy

KonMari discard

KonMari kitchen

Marie Kondo recommends a specific way to fold everything so that you can see everything you have every time you open your drawers: nothing should be stacked on top of each other. This totally surprised me, but even after two weeks (and a couple rounds of laundry later), my drawers still look exactly like this. It might seem anal, but having a place for everything actually makes it so much easier to put things away:

KonMari socks

KonMari folding

Every drawer, shelf and cabinet has been scoured and reorganized. I went through all of our papers (they now all fit in that grey box on the shelf in the pic below), photographs, cords and chargers. I’ve even been through all the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Done and done:

organizing shelves Organizing Organising

 If you are feeling burdened by the amount of stuff you have, do it

You know how people make ridiculous claims on QVC or cheap cable commercials? I truly feel like I could do that for this tidy method – except it would be sincere (no offense, Shamwow). Not only do I feel calmer and happier at home now, I swear it has helped with the impending winter doom that I usually feel. Who would have thought putting things away and getting rid of things could help banish the seasonal darkness? Maybe it makes sense why we always feel blue post-Christmas season. It’s not so much that the celebrations are over, but because we are left with so much more stuff. Stuff is overwhelming. And feeling more calm and surrounded by only the things you love totally works. All common sense really, but it helps to have it laid out for you KonMari style.

Do you think I’m nuts? I can help you KonMari-ify when I’m home this summer. You’ll be done with classes by then and freeeeee!

Love you like my socks love being rolled (not folded),



This Week: KonMari Method and Curly Hair

St Giles
Lovely St. Giles on a blue-skied day in Edinburgh

Hi Cath!

I’m so sorry things have gone quiet on my end. As you know, outside of work, most of my brain power has been used on two things:

• Becoming a tidying disciple of this book

• Figuring out what to do with my “new” curly hair

Those must seem like luxuries to you as busy as you are: full-time work, two work-heavy classes at night, saving for your surgery, taking care of your pups and your fam, your new house, going to the gym. I seriously don’t know how you do it.

Since I only do about 32% of what you do, I’ve had time to throw myself into Marie Kondo’s method of discarding and then arranging your house AND watch endless Youtube videos on what to do with wavy/curly hair.

I will write a proper post all about Marie Kondo’s book, but in the meantime here is a sneak peak before and after:

KonMari method

And here’s what my hair looks like most mornings after I’ve slept on it (photo does not show copious amounts of frizz) — Sorry about the weird glow on my face. That would be my sun lamp:

Wavy curly hair

Sara and I tried out Heads and Tales gin bar the other night. Mine is the pink cocktail which was smoked grapefruit and gin. The “smoke” came from a few squirts of peaty whisky around the rim of the glass — and you know how much I love my peaty whisky!

Heads and Tales

After tidying all weekend, we did take one break to go to our favourite new local café called Milk. Our favourite is their rosemary egg and mushroom burrito served with wild rice and a chopped cabbage salad:

Milk Edinburgh

Apologies for the state of most of these photos. I’m home mainly when it is pitch-black outside (the sun rises around 9 am and sets before 4 pm). I’ll do a proper post on the KonMari method if you want to see all the changes it’s made (I know I sound like I’ve drunk the kool aid — I totally have).

Hope the week is treating you well and cutting you some slack.



Home Away From Home

flat-decorpom-pom garlandbook-shelfikea-cart

Dear Cath,

This is our teeny flat on a quiet Sunday morning.

One day we will live side by side like we always dreamed (because our partners wouldn’t have a say — didn’t even occur to us, did it)? But for now you live in a beautiful house, on a woodsy plot in Atlanta and I live in a teeny flat perched on the edge of a busy road in Edinburgh.



Gallery Wall

Dearest Lar,

It’s soooooo amazing to think that we’re in the SAME country RIGHT NOW and we’ll get to see each other in just a few days – eeeekkkk! I have a whole checklist of things I want to do to the house before you see it in person. It’s about 70 items long and I’ve gotten about 2 things done. One of those things is pizzazz-ing up this wall in my hallway:

Gallery Wall before

You know I love gallery walls – I had one in the teeny hallway of my last house. Unfortunately all of my frames were black. So I spent two sunny weekends (which has been a rare occurrence) spray painting the frames. Then I used newspaper to create a template for each piece.

Gallery wall pictures

I wasn’t planning on making the wall so symmetrical. I usually like gallery walls that are a little off kilter, but once I started playing around with the templates, I realized this was the best pattern:

Gallery Wall templates

All of the walls in my house are plaster so I have to drill before hammering in the nails to minimize any plaster crumblage (yep, just made up that word).

gallery wall drilling

And tah dah! (Ignore the bare light bulb. Troy and I are saving up for a really cool pendant light)

gallery wall after

gallery wall how to

In just a few days you’ll get to see the wall in person!

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet since I have about 60 other things I need to do around the house before you arrive.

Love you to bits and see you in 3 days!

xoxo, Cath