February Organizing Update

by | Feb 17, 2021 | a slice of life, All Things Home, Decorating, Organizing | 31 comments

Despite a busy week and feeling a little under-the-weather over the weekend, I chipped away at organizing a bit more.  I’m still avoiding the huge projects, but I’ve been trying to do something most days, even if it’s just cleaning out a part of a cabinet or one drawer or sorting one bin.  Making small strides each day will help me maintain some momentum and I know that one of these days, I’ll be ready to tackle some of the tougher areas.  I find that once I get going, I usually end up doing more than I initially planned.

Here are the little areas I tackled last week and into the weekend…

The junk drawer!  This drawer always ends up a bit of a mess (living up to its name) because we’re in and out of it so much.  It only took 10-15 minutes to get it cleaned and sorted, though.  It’s so nice to open it and be able to see everything clearly now.

junk drawer | organizing February | miss mustard seed

I also cleaned out the most troublesome cabinet in the kitchen (aside from the snack drawer in the pantry) – the place where we keep food storage jars and containers.  I got rid of lids without bottoms and bottoms without lids.  I sorted everything so that what we use most is easily accessible.  Jeff uses the blender to make smoothies almost every day, so that had to be right in the front and easy to get out (and put away.)

food storage containers | organizing February | miss mustard seed

I cleaned out and organized the cabinet, chest, and coat closet in the foyer.  None of these were too messy, but I needed to go through coats, gloves, hats, snow pants, etc. and get rid of anything that was too small, had holes, etc.  I learned that the boys didn’t have any gloves that were in good shape.  They were all too small, filled with rips & holes, or didn’t have a matching partner.  I pitched everything and I bought them each a nice, new pair of ski gloves.  With the winters we have, I considered that a necessary expense.

antique pine cabinet | organizing February | miss mustard seed

Jeff and each of the boys have a basket for their hats, gloves, scarves, etc., so they are easy to find and have a “home.”  I can’t tell you how often we’re scurrying around trying to find all of the bits of a proper winter outfit.  I hope this system will help!

This is also where we store lunch boxes and school stuff.  The Lego sets are ones the boys haven’t built and they decided to sell, so I’ll be listing those locally or on eBay soon.  (That random pencil sharpener came in the piece when I bought it and I just haven’t removed it.  I think it’s kind of quirky and sweet, so I’ll keep it there unless it gets in the way.  Right now, we have plenty of open shelving.)

The coat closet is looking great, too.  I thinned out the coats and donated any that were too small.  We have four coats in Calvin’s size, so I’m going to have him pick two to keep and I’ll donate the other two.

coat closet | organizing February | miss mustard seed

The top of the closet is practically empty now!

My hats, gloves, and scarves are in the pine chest by the door.  I’ll admit, I have a collection!  I’ve made a bunch of stuff as I’ve been learning to knit and crochet and some were given to me as gifts. I just rotate them around and I use them for decor in the winter.

gloves and hats | organizing February | miss mustard seed

Remember this empty cabinet in the living room?

built-in cabinets | organizing February | miss mustard seed

I have slowly collected and organized things we use around the house to keep in here – lightbulbs, furniture pads/sliders, interior extension cords, plate hangers/stands, furniture/cabinet knobs and pulls, the label maker, etc.  These things were all scattered around the house in the laundry room, garage, hall closet, random drawers, and cabinets, and now it’s all in one place.

built-in cabinets | organizing February | miss mustard seed

And, of course, I put the label maker to good use!

built-in cabinets | organizing February | miss mustard seed

Things are coming progressing nicely in the organization department and I’ve crossed a lot of things off of my list.

Still to do…

  • Pictures & letters  – I’m still scanning and organizing family photos and letters.  I have a couple of cabinets in the living room built-ins filled with photo albums, boxes of pictures, etc.  I haven’t done anything with it since we moved and it’s all a bit of a mess.  When the no-spend month is over, I’ll buy some archival boxes to store the photos and letters.
  • Laundry room closet – I have started cleaning this out and getting it organized, but it’s still in process.  I have asked Jeff if he’ll build out the closet for me in the spring, so we make better use of the space.
  • Hooks & shelf in the garage entry – This area is a catch-all and it’s a mess.  Snowpants, swim bags, hats, fishing stuff, grocery bags, water bottles, tools…  Since it’s been -20 degrees here, this might have to wait until spring!
  • Linen closets – There are three in the house that need some attention.  Sorting, purging, washing, folding.
  • Basement storage room – This is the one I’m dreading!  It’s not too bad since I sorted it last year, but I really haven’t gone through every single bin since the move.  I need to weed out the Christmas bins and get those consolidated and sell/donate decor that I’m not going to use.
  • Organize the studio – I really need to clean out my art supplies and donate or sell the ones I don’t use.  I like trying out new tools, materials, and supplies, but I don’t need to keep them if I don’t use them.  I’ll see what I am going to get rid of and decide if it’s worth having a deeply-discounted, gently-used art supply sale for my readers.  I just know that I can make better use of the space if I clear out some of the drawers, cabinets, and shelves.  It’ll be a project, though!
  • Sort through the butler’s pantry and dining room cabinets.  I did this last year, so it won’t take too long, but things have gotten a little messy again as I’m in and out of those cabinets.

I have a feeling some of these projects will carry into March as well!  That’s okay.  The point of this February challenge isn’t to have a set finish line but to keep steady momentum and I’ve been doing that!

How is your organizing coming along?



  1. Margaret

    An unforeseen (to me, at least) of gradually switching over to energy-efficient lightbulbs is how much less storage I need for bulbs–virtually none. Even with the CFLs, I only needed a couple; now with LEDs I don’t keep any backstock beyond what’s left when I need multiples. By the time they finally burn out the quality will have improved and the price will have come down, so there’s not much point in buying ahead.
    Just one of those little things…

    • Marian Parsons

      My eyes just don’t do well with fluorescent lights. LEDs are okay, but I prefer the warm glow of incandescent bulbs.

      • jean

        Everytime you post an organizing update I get the urge to jump in here in my home – and then lose energy when i have to really consider where things will go next. We live on the coast so no basements and limited closets. There is a proliferation of mini-storage centers – we finally broke down this year and picked one to store christmas and baby things we don’t need but once a year. The funny thing is when you move into a house you give a little thought to where you put things but 18 years later tend to wonder what contributed to that decision when it just always seems wrong! Once there it doesn’t move!

  2. Betsy

    You are really spurring me on this month with clearing out. Thank you so much. If your boys don’t sell their Lego’s it turns out that Lego has a “take back” program. You ship back the Lego’s and they are cleaned and passed along to needy children. Lego’s have gotten so expensive it’s really a worthy cause. You can search for information online.

    • Susan

      If you can accomplish all of this while you’re “a little under the weather,” I have no excuse to procrastinate on my own organizing projects! For me, dreading to do it takes more energy than actually doing it, which I only seem to learn the hard way! 😜

  3. Marie

    I love a good “before and after”. Would you mind sharing before photos too? Somehow I think that helps motivate me. 😉

    • Marian Parsons

      Yep, I certainly can! I usually get going and don’t think about taking a picture until after, but I’ll try to do that. I know it helps!

  4. Rose P

    I took a room by room approach this year and I felt good about it. I dove into each drawer and closet in the room so my 2 upstairs floors are complete. What a good feeling!! Like you, I have that dreaded room, the basement. I did a little yesterday and instead of being overwhelmed with it all at once, I decided to work on a zone at a time. I cleaned up a painted mess that was in the middle of the room which was all I was hoping to accomplish. But then I got motivated and worked on my sewing area. I kept going on and worked on the desk and cleaned out papers and cleared my desk. Next I plan on working on wrapping paper, bows, boxes etc. The most dreaded section of all is the home decor stuff. Somehow I can never get rid of anything!!! I think I have come to realize that it’s ok and I have to stopped stressing over it. If we ever move, that will be the time to “let go”. I wonder if anyone feels that way also. Is it ok to keep all this stuff?

    • Cassandra E

      I often have that same question. I have a few thoughts that guide me, but I’m not totally settled.
      I live in a teeny tiny house, and I’ve also had to get efficient at packing up for wildfire evacuation. I have storage bins in a shed. I went through everything over the past couple years, both in my house and stored in the shed and decided what is really worth grabbing. The rest, I’ve divided into things I’d take in a move and things that could easily go to donation if pressed, but I’m not sure I need to get rid of just yet. That way, I kind of feel like if I ever did move I wouldn’t be in hysteria having to pack and make tough decisions. I also keep in mind, having helped a semi hoarder, that if anything will rot due to disuse or be really helpful to someone else now, but obsolete in a few years, I would rather give it away now. Whatever helps you not stress though! Sometimes just making a decision and sticking to it.

  5. Marylisa

    You have great storage and you use it wisely. I ‘ve contracted a carpenter to build us a pantry. When I had my kitchen remodeled 5 years ago I used an armoire that my husband built shelves in as a free standing pantry. This year with covid 19, I’ve realized it isn’t efficient. keep up the great organizing…makes life easier

  6. Deborah Raney

    I absolutely LOVE that pencil sharpener! So glad you left it there. Charming!

  7. Leslie C

    Junk drawer ha, turns out I had three of them, Fixed that now down to two of them. One is my household tools, so I don’t have to go out and bum my hubby’s and the other is kinda like yours shown above . I have to confess I did spend, on some organizing trays for those two drawers. Otherwise those drawer would just be a mess again next week. I won’t be finished this month either, but will keep pushing through March. It didn’t become a mess a month so I don’t expect it will be clean and sorted out in a month. Have to admit I am enjoying the cleaning out and the results.

  8. Sandy

    It all looks wonderful. You are such a sweet motivator. I agree, I love that you kept the pencil sharpener where it is in the pine cabinet, at least until you would need the space. When I was growing up, our pencil sharpener was right outside in the garage attached to a shelf. So, if it was cold, you didn’t waste time twirling the handle slowly. Get the job done and back inside. Haha.

    Feel better soon.

  9. Crystal Brown

    Why do we all have that one section in the junk drawer with 49 different kinds of pens? what are they all for? Why do we keep them? My junk drawer got a good cleaning out last year and I’m proud that it’s still tidy, except I keep finding more pens…. are they multiplying in there? Think I’ll be taking a serious look at al those pens and markers and saying buh bye to half, if not more. Thanks for keeping us on track!

  10. Jo

    When I find an appropriate storage space, I select a reasonable size bin, box or basket, I allow myself to keep “only” what fits and looks nice in the container. This has helped me to decide what is most dear to me and to let go of the excess. I had a large closet shelf of bins filled with my son’s baby items and now I have only one bin that I am able to easily handle. It also made what I did keep extra precious. This also worked for holiday decorations. With too many bins of anything I am sure we loose track of what we actually have!

  11. Vikki Nay

    My husband and I want to go on a 18 month mission for our church. Probably in a year or so. We want to rent out our house while we are gone so will have to pack up everything and put it in storage. Has really helped me in getting rid of stuff. I look at it and ask myself if it’s worth storing. Today I went through all my patterns. I used to do a lot of sewing but not so much now that my granddaughters are older. I found 30 patterns to donate. Every day I try to spend at least 30 minutes sorting through something. Thanks for the nudge.

  12. Kimberly Carnegie Bruhn

    Man….totally gung-ho to get started sorting, purging and organizing and then on February 5 I broke my right wrist! Sure has slowed me down but I will segue to March being “my” no-buy month! I have a poorly written list of areas to target so here’s to getting the cast off next week!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh man, so sorry to hear! After dealing with a bum shoulder and shoulder/bicep surgery, I know how tough it is to navigate with one non-dominant hand! Just take it easy and heal. 🙂

  13. Sue P.

    My biggest organizing project was to take pictures of everything of “significance” in our home and create a photo/provenance/history book using one of the online photo book web sites. Our family members live many states away from us and when we die, we want family members to know whether this piece of furniture or this lamp or wooden chest, etc. belonged to great grandmother, was purchased at an antique auction when we lived in Germany or was purchased at a local furniture store or whatever. I had two copies printed and the estate sale company can use one copy to help them figure out how to price the piece and the other copy can be used by family members as their “Christmas catalog” to point out items they’d like to have as only one or two family members might come here to sort out our estate. If there was a particularly interesting story behind any items, I included the story. I also included a few pictures and stories about my husband and myself as we’ve had an adventurous life living in some interesting places.

  14. Cabrini Rudnick

    Can you do a piece on scanning your photos. Not every exciting but I really need to do that and I would love to know what technology you are using and how you are organizing them. Thanks!!!!

  15. Tanya

    I got a late start to clearing and organizing this month, but I finally carved out some time yesterday (while I was on hold with the IRS for an hour). I reshuffled the bedroom furniture and moved my computer out of the bedroom (where it’s been living since Husband came home to work last March) and put it in the dining room. I’m not sure I love it there, but I hope it will give me a chance to sort through my computer files.

    I’d love to know how you organize photos on your computer – by date? by occasion? by category? How do you back them up? I’ve never found a system that truly works for me, and I have photos all over the computer in all kinds of folders.

    • Marian Parsons

      I organize them by date, so it’s easier to match up photos with my blog posts. I typically remember things chronologically, too, so I can find things pretty quick. I have a huge hard drive on my laptop (8T), so I can store all of my photos in one place. I back up everything on an external hard drive and Carbonite, so there is redundancy.

  16. Babs

    I have been clearing out a large bookcase. Going through each book and trying to asses the value. Some are worth some decent money but I have had no luck in trying to find someone who is interested in buying them. We have a small Habitat store which does take books but I don’t want to overwhelm them. We also have a Goodwill store which will take them. The thought of throwing a book into a dumpster is shocking to me…no matter what the book is. Many of the books are inherited family pieces dating to the 1800’s and 1900’s but what do I do with them?

    • Sue P.

      Take a look at Abebooks dot com and they have an option for selling your books.

      • Babs

        Will do that and thank you for the suggestion.

  17. Lynnett Ratchford

    Most recently we have reorganized the battery drawer. The batteries were tossed willy-nilly in a pile, some in packages, some not. I bought a Battery Daddy for my husband for Christmas which is a case to hold each size battery safely without touching. Our neighbor’s Christmas gift to us was a small case about the size of a recipe box filled with new batteries.

    We love both items, especially since the Battery Daddy came with a tester to see if an item is still good. Now finding and changing a battery is easy.

  18. Vicki Cooley

    Everything looks great! I’m working on organizing little by little! I have a pencil sharpener just like yours! It’s really old and I like it. Feel better!

  19. Donna Burke

    Off topic, but I was wondering if you would ever offer your paintings as a custom PAINT BY NUMBER for those of us without time or talent?

    I know plenty of elderly people who love paint by number but would like something they could hang in their home.

  20. Lillie Solomon

    I love the way you decorate your home!
    I have some chairs I want to make Slipcovers . So I will be waiting to see how you do your sectional. Can you tell me where but your hemp sheets?

  21. Lillie

    Me again!
    I was trying to say “ Where did you buy your hemp sheets? Thanks

  22. Lauren

    I was humming along with organizing with you and then four of my kids and I got sick with Covid. Sigh. The kids are all better but I am still very tired so I am enjoying some time on the computer. I think I will just roll my organizing over into March!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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