Feng Shui Friday—Challenge #4 Clean out the basement (its a contest!)

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Challenge #3: Clean out the basement

Need I say more?

O.K. I realize for many of us this is a huge chore. So let me break it down. Clutter is the biggest enemy of Feng Shui, and much of it congregates in the basement (or the garage, or a storage room, etc.) Storage is a necessary evil, yes. But this week, let's evaluate the items we are storing and decide whether or not we really need to keep them. This is the stuff that goes from storage room to storage room when you move. Wouldn't it feel good to let go of some extra weight?

Then, let's see who can create the biggest pile to donate! Take a picture of your pile and e-mail it to me at joellynclark at yahoo dot com. The biggest pile will receive a copy of either Pioneer Woman's new book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. or 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Life (Be sure to send your address with your e-mail!) Leave a comment on next Friday's results post to tell me which book you would like to win.

See you next Friday!

Feng Shui Friday—Challenge #3 Clear out old pictures

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It is time to reveal the results of our third Feng Shui My Way challenge:

Challenge #3: Clear out old pictures

I confess I didn't get very far with my own photos this week. But fortunately I already have a few systems in place to manage my photos. I have big plans to take this even further, and I will tell you about all that today.


I started shooting digital full time sometime around 2004. Before that, I had a nice Canon film camera. I used to get doubles printed everytime I had them developed so I could give a set to my mom (a habit I got into especially after I had my first baby). All of my film photos are stored in photo boxes like this:


One thing already that would make this tons better is labeling my boxes!

Most of the boxes are organized by event. Unfortunately several are just filled with stacks of unsorted photos.


Had I really followed my own advice in this challenge, I would have sorted through all of these and tossed out duplicates and any photos that generated negative emotions and memories. Someday I will get that done. Eventually I want to scan the best photos and keep them with the rest of my digital photos, and ultimately to print them in photo books (more on that below).

My digital photography workflow is this: I upload my photos onto my computer and immediately label them by year, month, and event. I have a folder for each year, and each event appears chronologically within that folder.

In each event I end up with at least 2 folders: JPEG (full size files for all the keeper images) and BLOG (for images I have sized to post on the blog). I often also have a RAW folder for my best photos that I may want to go back and edit*.

*Since I shoot in RAW (read about that here), my files take up a ton of space. I know many people would NEVER delete their raw files, but I shoot so many photos to get one good one, and I can't justify taking up that much room on my hard drive for one good photo. So I delete all the blurry, bad photos, and the rest I process to JPEG.

I only keep the current year of photos on my computer. I want my computer to run as fast as possible, so I don't want my hard drive to fill up. The rest of my photos I store on two 500 GB hard drives.

Hard drives are inexpensive these days, so this is a small investment to keep your photos safe. My first drive (labeled Joellyn #1) stays on my desk and I try to back up to it every time I do a big photo upload, or at least once a week.

The second drive (Joellyn #2) is a duplicate of #1. I used to back up to it about once a month, but I have been slacking on it lately. My main goal is to make sure I have each year backed up on both hard drives before I delete it off my computer (so I have every photo in at least 2 places).

You can use software to set your hard drives to automatically back up. I haven't done this, but I should. You can also pay for online storage, another option I would like to explore but just haven't had the time. If you use one of these options I would love to hear about it!

One other thing to think about. It is good to keep your hard drives in 2 different locations. After I get my 2010 photos backed up onto my second hard drive, I intend to store it at my mom's house. This makes backing up a little less convenient, but it ensures I won't lose ALL of my photos in the event of a fire or some such tragedy.

If you haven't done this yet, take some time to back up your photos. Can you imagine losing them all? It happens.



Like I mentioned last week, I haven't gotten around to decorating this house much or displaying/hanging photos. In my old house I had a photo gallery in our living room:

I intend to hang it in our living room here also, and when I do, I want to fill it with my favorite recent photos (instead of letting them live on my hard drive where no one can see them).

My mother-in-law recently lectured us about how pitifully outdated her mantle was getting. (Gulp.) I am currently working on going though my folders to find images to print for her. In this digital age I have to work harder at remembering to print and use my photos.


Aside from remembering to print photos for your family (guilty), you should also be able to easily enjoy your own photos. Are you faithful about putting them in albums? I'm not.

I have 3 scrapbooks: my childhood, my wedding, and Abby's first year. Then I stopped. It isn't that I don't enjoy scrapbooking, but it takes too much effort for my life right now. I also don't like how I go back and look at them and cringe at the style of scrapbooking. (I know I'm not the only one!) Going forward, I have decided to do digital photo books. I have printed one before and loved how it turned out. I hope to do one for every year since we have been married (1997). And I might actually get it done if I can just follow the K.I.S.S. method (which goes completely against my grain)! I can just imagine how proud I will be to have 14 books lined up on my bookshelf.

A couple of benefits to digital that you may not have considered. #1: You can make multiple copies. Your mom wants a copy? No problem. Just print two! #2: Depending on the service you use, your photo book will be stored online under your account, so if something ever happened to your book, you could just log on and order another. Its a pretty good insurance policy against losing your photos! Have you tried to print a photo book yet? I would love to hear about it. I need some inspiration and motivation!


So, its a wrap. Um.... are you there? Did I put you to sleep? That was one long and wordy post, but I hope it will be helpful to at least some of you. See you next Friday for another challenge!


Feng Shui Friday—Challenge #3 Clear out old pictures

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This week has just flown by, and I can hardly believe it is Friday again and time for another Feng Shui My Way Challenge:

Challenge #3: Clear out old pictures

The book 27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home warns that keeping old photos around can stir up old negative emotions and wear us down. Now, I am one to treasure old photos like nobody's business, so my first impulse was to dismiss this one. Why deny your past? Not all memories are good, but at least they teach us something. At the same time, when I look through old photos and find relationships and weddings that have dissolved, photos of myself that I don't like, and so on, its true that they stir up negative emotions. I'm going to have to give some thought to this.

The "My Way" part of this challenge is this:

#1: We should all have a good system for keeping our photos organized, both printed and digital. I take a lot of photos, and if I don't keep them organized as I import them, they would be a huge mess. Next week I will show you how I organize my photos and how I back them up to ensure they won't be lost forever in the event of a computer failure. I'm also going to take this week as an opportunity to catch up on my archiving process.

#2: The second part of this challenge is to update the photos you have displayed in picture frames. I haven't hung very many photos in this house yet, but I know the frames I have still packed away in boxes are quite outdated. I am going to make an effort to print some new images to replace them with as I hang them. (I'm not talking about the nostalgic ones. Of course I'm going to keep photos of my late grandparents, our wedding photos, etc. I'm talking about current family photos, school portraits, and the like.)

#3: Think about how you display your photos for others to see. This is where the greatest joy comes from. For me, this blog is a big part of my sharing, but I was recently reminded that I haven't been very good about printing photos for my extended family. My mother-in-law's mantle is severely outdated. Also, I am terrible about getting photos into scrapbooks or albums. The last scrapbook I did was of Abby's first year. I have decided to go digital with my albums, but I have yet to print even one book. Even though it is a project that would be so much for me to work on, it falls to the bottom of my to-do list and I may never get around to it if I don't carve out some time every week to start making progress.

So, join the "picture" challenge with me this week, and tell me how you've done! Good luck.

Feng Shui Friday—Challenge #2 Keep doorways clear

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Happy Friday! Did any of you have a chance to meet Challenge #2 and clear your doorways? Friday came around really fast for me this week, so I was very glad this week's challenge was a little easier than cleaning out my closet.

The hallway/doorway leading to our garage has been driving me CRAZY. This is what it looked like:

Yes, that is a big dog and dog bed taking up most of the hallway. I also had this to contend with:


Tom would always come in from working outside and shed his work clothes and boots right inside the door. I'm trying to train him to hang them on the hook in the garage, right outside the door. Still trying.

I have a long term plan for this problem that includes removing the closets you see in the top photo. I will leave an area next to the refrigerator for the dog bed and hooks for Tom's long work clothes. Then, in the rest of the space, I want to have a long bench and hooks to function as a landing strip for our coats, diaper bags, backpacks, etc.

That is all well and good, but who knows how far off the "long term" plan will be. So, to ease my frustration, I came up with a great solution.

First, I removed the bottom two drawers in the built-ins. They weren't holding much more than a few paper bags and empty plastic jugs.

Then, we removed the drawer glides and hammered out the divider between the two drawers.

And we were left with a great new cubby for the dog bed!

Ideally, we would find a different place for the food and water bowls too, but baby steps, my friend. When the weather is warmer I think those can go out in the garage.... along with the dog, I hope. She is pretty spoiled and I don't know if I have the heart to kick her out, but she sheds SOOOO MUCH!!!! I'm pulling my hair out trying to keep her hair vacuumed up. But pulling my own hair out is sort of counter-productive. :) But I digress.

Mia wasted no time trying out her new bed and is just delighted with it, as am I. No more stepping tripping over the dog bed every time I leave the house!

Because of the carpeting deadline in the basement i didn't clean out any closets this week like I wanted to. But the two in this hallway are on my list. Have you been cleaning out your closets? Or clearing your doorways? Do share!

Feng Shui Friday—Challenge #2 Keep doorways clear

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Hello! It's Friday, which means it is time for our next Feng Shui Friday challenge! Last week we tackled cleaning out our closets—no small task—so this week you will be happy to know we have a less-grueling challenge.

Challenge #2: Keep Doorways Clear

The book 27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home tells us that our doorways are like "mouths" to our homes in which we breathe and circulate energy. True. But if you don't want to look at it that deep, I know I don't like to walk around my house tripping over things.

I have a least one problem area in my house: the door leading from my house to the garage. I am constantly stepping over a dog bed and Tom's work clothes that seem to always land in a heap by the door, and it drives me nuts. I will tell you about my solutions to this problem (and any others I find) next Friday. I hope you will tell me about your experiences too.

Oh, and since this is a fairly simple challenge, feel free to still work on those closet projects and tell me about those too! I am hoping to tackle another closet this week also. Good luck!

Feng Shui Friday—Challenge #1 Closet Cleanout

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Happy Friday, my friends! Last week I wrote about the first Feng Shui My Way Challenge—Cleaning out your closet. Any closet. I picked my bedroom closet. (And its a good thing I had a deadline for this project, because I waited until yesterday to start it. I think this challenge is going good motivation to tackle some projects that I would otherwise put off indefinitely!)

This is what I started with:

I had 2 bins of clothes on my bedroom floor that I hadn't completely emptied when we moved. Much of it was winter clothes, so I was often digging through it to find things. (Please try to ignore the white dog hair all over these clothes. It is driving me nutso!)

My closet itself wasn't terrible, but it was overfull and still contained a lot of summer clothes.

When I was done it was so much better; much less crowded, and seasonally appropriate. One little trick to share with you: see my boot collection up on top? This Christmas I collected all my empty wrapping paper rolls, cut them in half, and stuffed them inside my tall boots to help them stand up and keep their shape. Something beefier would work better, but for now, this helps tremendously.

Here is the cupboard next to my closet:

I also cleaned out the drawers below it and even emptied an extra drawer for Tom to use.

This project seemd like torture. Not the work itself—that was relatively easy—but the getting rid of things. I have to admit I wasn't as strict as I wish I would have been on purging. When I acquired most of these clothes I had a professional desk job that paid me well, and I wanted to look the part. I spent good money on them, so it made it harder to part with them—even though heels, dress pants, and fancy work clothes no longer fit my lifestyle. I cut myself some slack and will get rid of more things over time.

This is how I tackled the project:

I completely cleared the closet first. See? Here it is looking completely bare.

My intention was to replace those clip thingies with a traditional closet rod. But then I discovered the rods we bought were too long and would need to be cut down. So, the clips remain until my hubby has time to cut the bar and install it.

I sorted all the clothes into piles on my bed:

What didn't go in my closet ended up here:

The bin on the left is full of clothes that don't fit right now. I know you aren't supposed to do this, but I'm sorry—I paid good money for these and I intend to wear them again! My post-baby nursing-momma body can't wear them, but it isn't like I have to lose 50 pounds. Its attainable, and so I will store them until I accomplish this goal. At least they aren't taking space in my closet and making me feel bad every day whe I look at them.

The second bin is summer clothes to store in another closet. I have them all on hangers so they can be swapped out easily in warmer weather.

The bin on the right is clothes and shoes to donate. A good start!

And one more bonus. (Do I get extra credit?) I was on a roll so I organized Tom's closet too. (No before pictures, but trust me—it wasn't pretty.)

I didn't purge anything—I'll leave that up to him—but it is so much neater and hopefully will encourage him to put his clothes away instead of in piles in front of his closet. Yahoo!

The author of 27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home says "Clearing clutter creates space for something new to come in, and what is new can be empowering". Shopping, anyone????? I kid, but as I was going through this process I did reveal a few gaps in my wardrobe and made a list of things that I can concentrate on looking for when I do have a rare moment to shop.

I have so many closets in my home that need this treatment that I am thinking of tackling a different closet every other week (in between my other Feng Shui challenges). If I do I will share it with you.

I hope you will take the Feng Shui challenge and clean out a closet of your own! If you do, leave me a comment below. I will be back next Friday with a new challenge!

Feng Shui Friday

The new year is filled with magazine articles about organization, sales on storage containers of all shapes and sizes, and blogs about getting your life back in order after the holidays. January is a great time to clean out the cobwebs and start afresh. Or, if you're like me, Jaunary is for recovering from the holidays, and FEBRUARY is the time to dig your heels in and start the big clean-out.

Actually, I am a big organizer (at heart) year-round. I daydream about perfectly organized closets and cupboards. In reality, I struggle to acheive it. It takes time to go through everything and get rid of things. Especially after a move and with kids to clean up after on a daily basis.

I have always been intrigued with the concepts of Feng Shui, so I decided to buy an inexpensive little book I once read about on some long-forgotton source: 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home.

I don't prescribe to the deeper philosophies and religion behind Feng Shui, but at a very basic level, I believe that having an organized space brings peace and positive energy to your home. Having too much clutter wears me down. When I lose track of something it nags at me until I relocate it. Searching through piles to find something is time consuming and frustrating. Thus, getting organized is a mission I will be on for a long time.

I decided it would be fun to use this book as a guide to tackle projects throughout the year. Organization is only part of Feng Shui, however, so many of the items have to do with space clearing and adding positive energy to your home. Some of the 27 things are practical (clean your windows), some a bit more absract (add pink to enhance your love life?). Some I may repeat and some I may skip. In any case, I will find a way to apply them to my home in a practical manner that works for me. That is why it is Feng Shui My Way. If you want to join in, you can apply the projects in a way that suits YOU.

Every other Friday I will post a new Feng Shui My Way assignment. Each Friday in between I will share the project I chose to tackle and invite you to leave a comment about your own experience. You can post the button below on your blog if you would like to follow this project and post about your projects each week!

Use the following URL (/feng-shui-my-way/) to link the button back to the permanent Feng Shui home page on my site (accessible in the menu at the top of this site or by clicking on the Feng Shui My Way button on the right.) There I will keep the information written above and a link to all projects added to date.


And now for the first assignment:


You can choose to clean out any closet, but you should start with the one that is most personal to you. In my case, this is my bedroom closet. That is enough for me to tackle in one week, but if you are particulary ambitious you can move on to other closets, cabinets, or drawers in your house. This is one assignment that is likely to repeated!

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

-William Morris

You have heard the saying above, and it is a great guideline to follow as you are cleaning out your closet. My bedroom closet is much smaller than it used to be, as I wrote about here. Half of my clothes are in bins still, and since I haven't completely swapped out my summer clothes for winter clothes, I am often digging through the bins to get what I need. What a mess. My wardrobe needs are also drastically different here on the farm than when I had a desk job. High heels and dress pants are suddenly highly impractical. I think I may have a hard time getting rid of some of the nice clothes from my past, but I certainly don't need them anymore. I am going to pull everything out of my closet and only put back the things that I really love and feel great in, and that fit my lifestyle now. I would love to pare it down enough to fit everything in my closet, but most likely I will store my summer clothes in another spot.

Here are a few links to get you started:

20 Ways to Organize Your Bedroom Closet

Organize Your Closet with 5 Simple Questions

and Dream Closets to Make you Drool!


I do hope you will join me and share your projects. I'll see you back here next Friday with the results!