Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Sale

I am having a Black Friday sale on my handmade items. They would make great and inexpensive incidental Christmas gifts! (teachers, coworkers, classmates, acquaintances, etc.)

* Chain necklaces and non-sterling earrings $6 if purchased through Etsy, or $5.59 if purchased directly through me
* Sterling silver earrings $8 if purchased through Etsy, $7 if purchased directly through me
* Quilted fabric bookmarks, $3

Many items can be seen in this post:

There are also a few in my Etsy shop:

I am planning to list more on Etsy throughout the day, and have many items not pictured; so if you are looking for a certain item, contact me and I will send you a photo of all my matching items.

Happy Black Friday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 22

Whatever day you decide to do the final assignment for this week is fine.

Clean your light fixtures inside and out. Replace any burnt bulbs. Be careful!! It is worth it to take a little extra time to be safe (safe things to stand on, turning off breakers, and handling glass carefully).

If you have extra time, work on cleaning mirrors and windows.

A Home for the Holidays: Day 21

Thanksgiving is near whether Day 21 falls on Tuesday or Wednesday for you, so let's spend today doing basic cleaning and maintenance and not dive into anything we might not be able to finish. ;)

We only will have one more assignment this week. What day you decide to do it is up to you. I will post it tomorrow for the early birds.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 20

It's been a while since we made our Christmas lists. Let's pull them out and see how things are going.

What do you still need to buy? If you are making things, do you have all your supplies? Are your time estimates reasonable, or do you need to simplify (remember, you need to account for time ripping seams, picking up dropped stitches, etc.)?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 19

Thanksgiving is this week!

Take today to work on whatever preparations you need to get ready for the big day! This might include cleaning, shopping, meal planning, or packing your bags!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 18

Today, spend your hour revisiting the areas you've worked on so far. It's impossible to keep things 100% pristine after you finish cleaning because we're all living life. Take today as a chance to do a little maintenance on the areas you've already improved. For me at least, it seems almost harder to keep my house clean than it is to clean it in the first place.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 17

I'm sure you feel like I do that you are always doing laundry, but today we are going to do a little catch-up in that department. Do you have anything sitting on the sidelines that needs:

* Ironing
* Mending or altering
* Special stain treatment/ bleaching
* Starching (I admit, I have never done this!)
* Bluing (Okay, I've done this once.)
* Dry cleaning
* Quarterly, semi-annual or annual cleaning (sleeping bags, duvet covers)
* Lint removal

Let's spend our hour or so today getting really caught up on laundry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 16

Today we are going to do some re-stocking and maintenance. We are going to spend our hour on the following types of things:

* Changing the furnace filter
* Changing the water filter if you have a filtration system
* Replenishing toilet paper and hand soap in the bathroom (other toiletries if needed)
* Filling containers for napkins, paper towels, baby wipes, etc.
* Taking out the trash
* Making a shopping list of things that need to be re-stocked (trash bags, etc.)
* Emptying and cleaning out the vacuum cleaner
* Filling containers for spices, salt, and pepper
* Refilling air freshening or scenting devices
* Checking fluid levels and tire pressure in cars

It will be a while until you have to spend time trying to hunt one of these items down! Don't you feel more on-top-of things? If there's anything that should be in this list that I missed, please post a comment!

If you run out of things to do and still have time, why don't you do some dusting and vacuuming? Now during the winter (for those in the north part of the world), running the furnace really gets things dusty quickly. It also would be a good idea to sweep and mop hard floors.

Also, this is the last call for entries for the de-cluttering contest. Remember, you are supposed to submit photos, or at least a list of items you got rid of on Day 5. To be fair, please don't include items that you culled before or after the day you did the assignment for Day 5. I will accept entries through Thursday at midnight. Post a comment on the blog or pictures in the Flickr pool to enter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 15

You've been working hard! Today is a day where you get to do the fun things on your to-do list, even though they're not the most important. I'm talking about things like:

* Shopping for Christmas gifts
* Taking care of yourself
* Working on your hobby
* Writing thank-you cards, or something else you'd like to do to add some niceness to your life
* Doing some cooking or baking
* Decorating
* Copying pictures onto your computer from your memory card
* Reconstructing/upcycling/altering clothes

What did you do today? Tell us in the comments!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Home for the Holidays Directory

Here is a directory for all the daily posts for the A Home for the Holidays challenge:

What this is all about & Pre-assignment 1

Pre-assignment 2
Pre-assignment 3
Pre-assignment 4

Grab our button
Add your blog to our roll
Flickr Pool

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10

Feel free to start at the beginning or jump right in on the current day!

A Home for the Holidays is all about doing what you can. Don't be discouraged if the lists seem a little ambitious - the idea is to work on them, not finish them. A good rule of thumb is that if you average about an hour on average on the daily assignment, you have completed the challenge for the day. More is always welcome, but be proud if you spend even 15-20 minutes on the daily assignment. This is more about consistently doing a little extra than going gung-ho. At the end, you will have completed the challenge if you stick with us even if you completely miss daily assignments here and there. If your house is a nicer place to be, you've won!

Don't worry! You still have:

A Home for the Holidays: Day 14

Do you have a craft or hobby area or a workbench or garden shed? Spend an hour organizing and cleaning.

If you don't or you want to spend more time today, go down the things on this list:

* Work on your bedroom more, or spruce it up if you completed it
* Do the same for your bathrooms
* Do the same for other bedrooms in your house

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 13

Spend an hour de-junking, throwing away trash, and cleaning the interior of your car.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 12

Thanks for all your feedback!

It sounds like most of us can use some more work in the kitchen. Go back to the Day 1 list, and if you finish that, you can clean the oven, microwave, baseboards, walls, and windows or go through the cupboards.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 11

We're getting far enough along in the challenge that it's hard to do something specific that applies to everyone. Today, pick one or two of the following areas and spend an hour cleaning, organizing, and decluttering:

* Kids' room(s)
* Outdoors/garage/carport/shed/porch
* Home office/computer area
* Entertainment area
* Laundry room/laundry piles
* Linens
* Pantry
* Pet areas
* Hobby areas
* Coat closet
* Game cupboard

Also, why don't you post a comment and let everyone know how you're coming? Do you have any suggestions for future assignments? I'd like to get some feedback so I know what people are done with and what they need to work on more. Any days you would like to repeat or work further on?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 10

Day 10:

Where do you receive visitors to your home? Most likely a living room or family room. Let's spend an hour sprucing this up. I'd like you to:

* declutter
* dust
* vacuum
* reconsider decorations and maybe rearrange things for a fresh feel
* polish wood/clean glass, other maintenance

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 9

Day 9:

Plan your Thanksgiving meal if you are having one. Create a meal plan and a shopping list. Make sure all invitations are made and DELEGATE side dishes and desserts to attendees! Think of decorations.

If you have time left or are not hosting a Thanksgiving meal, work on one of the areas we've already started (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 8

Today, we are going to give some extra attention to the financial aspect of our lives. I know it's probably not something you like to think about, but clearing some of the clutter (both tangible and intangible) can definitely make it less stressful.

Here is a list of suggestions to spend your hour or so on:

* Pay any outstanding or upcoming bills
* Gather all paper piles around the house, sort, purge, and file. Purge your files, too.
* Set financial goals, create or evaluate your budget (you should have some Christmas help from Day 3 ;) ) One of your financial goals might be a plan of attack if you are bad at impulse buying like me - something like "I must consult my husband for purchasing items over $25" or "I have to wait a week to see if I still want to buy it" or "I can have it, but I have to wait until I have enough money in my personal spending account"
* Gather up loose change and cash and take it to your bank so you can earn interest and it won't take up space in your house. You could even use this money to pay toward the principal of your highest-interest debt.
* Set up online bill pay or automatic withdrawls to reduce your monthly bill-paying time (if you know you are good at keeping money in the account to avoid overdrafts. Or, see if your bank or credit union or another you can join offers overdraft protection.)

Any other ideas? Post them in the comments!

A Home for the Holidays: Day 7

For those of you who don't take Sunday off, I'm sorry I missed posting this! I was still down with the flu today, but I think tomorrow I will be back to normal. I am finally feeling better now (Sunday evening).

Here is the Day 7 assignment. If you want, you can put 1/2 of your Monday time toward this assignment and 1/2 toward the Day 8 assignment. Since I've been down for several days, I'm going to start on Day 7 and work backward if I have extra time. It's fine to mix up the days, jump in anywhere, or skip days. The point is to make a difference beyond your usual cleaning routine (and to work toward establishing one if you're bad at being consistent like me). We started out kind of fast and furious, but since most people don't have 50+ rooms, expect to spend several days on each one until it is up to par. We will come back before Christmas arrives.

Go through the cupboards/shelves in your bathroom. Throw away all old toiletries or things that you don't use/want (including stuff that didn't work as advertised). Wipe down the shelves and put everything back in an organized manner. If you have extra time, wipe down and disinfect bathroom surfaces, then deep clean toilet and bath/shower.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 6

There will not be an assignment for Day 6; I have come down with the flu. Sorry!

EDIT: This is Kathy's sister, Audrey, filling in for today.

If you feel the need for an assignment today, you are welcome to dust the blinds. You know they need it. I have only lived in my house for four months and they need it!

Also, think of other places that don't get dusted very often: the top of the fridge, your dresser, bookcases, shelves, etc. See how many you can get to in an hour. If you don't have anything you need to dust, work on some of the other assignments for the week.

Have a great weekend! Kathy hopes to be back in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 5

Day 5:

Only one work day left this week!

Today we are going to do a decluttering binge. The best declutterer will be getting a prize (that takes up very little space), mailed to you by yours truly! (It also comes with absolution of guilt if you decide to re-gift it or get rid of it at any point.)

So, here is what I want you to do:
* Get rid of at least 30 donatable items and get them out of your house! It is best if you can drive it to your favorite charity, but at least get it out of your house and into your car.
* Throw out any trash you find
* Find at least one item you think would be worth your time to sell and list it online or take it to a consignment shop (or at least in the car ready to go to the shop). Resolve to donate it if you are unable to sell it.

When you are done for the day (and before you take the stuff away!), take a picture and post it to the Flickr group. Please only include stuff you marked for "deletion" today - stuff already in your to-donate pile doesn't count. If you can't take a picture, post a list in the comments. I'll pick who did the best job (based on both volume and quality - i.e. getting rid of a room full of styrofoam won't necessarily be an automatic win), and if there's not a clear winner, I will enlist some judges or award multiple prizes.

The decluttering contest will accept entries through November 13th.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 4

How have you all been doing? I'd love to hear about it in a post or see your pictures in the Flickr pool.

Take a deep breath and breathe out. Today we're going to have another low-key assignment. There are three parts to today's assignment:

Do something to take care of yourself. We've been working so hard on our houses, let's do a little self-maintenance. Take 20 minutes or so (don't set a timer on this one unless you pick something that is a time warp!), turn off your phone, close IM/email/Facebook and do something that will help you feel more relaxed in your own skin. THIS STEP IS REQUIRED, NO SKIPPING! We still have 42 assignment days until Christmas, the rest will get done. Here are some ideas:

* Take a warm bath
* Do some eyebrow maintenance
* Shave your legs
* Shower (this one is for you, new moms!)
* Smooth your heel calluses and put some nice lotion and socks on
* Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
* Give yourself a facial
* Read a book
* Play a video game
* Watch an episode of your favorite show on
* Take a nap

Are you feeling more refreshed? I bet you'll like the next step!

What is that one thing you would LOVE to get done, but it is never the most important thing on your list? Give yourself a "get out of guilt free" pass and take 20 minutes or so and work on it! You can set a timer if you like, but if you're having a good time, feel free to run with it!

I'm talking about something like:
* Organizing photos
* Your hobby - knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, beading, taxidermy, whatever!
* Cleaning your hobby space so working on it isn't stressful
* Writing a card for somebody
* Making a gift for somebody
* Doing some fun research - i.e. what camera model is best for your needs
* Calling someone you love to check on them/get in touch
* Creative writing
* Home decorating
* Practicing a musical instrument
* Taking some time to play with your kids and give them 100% of your attention
* Sorting your books, magazines, or something else you have fun looking at (for me it would be craft supplies). Something that energizes you and makes you feel creative.

To round out this day's assignment (we're shooting for spending around an hour), get your timer and set it for 20 minutes. We are going to do a maintenance blitz where we do as much of the following list as we can:

* Thwart any pending disasters (i.e. pot of spaghetti sauce in baby's reach)
* Clean any spills or messes that could get worse soon (another one that mostly applies to parents)
* Clear out one side of the kitchen sink (disposal side if you have one)
* Pick up any trash that might be laying around
* Take out any trash that is filling its can
* Clear any pathways that are strewn with items
* Gather up dirty laundry and take it to the laundry room (or get it ready to go to the laundromat)
* Replenish toilet paper, soap, diapers, wipes, paper towels as needed
* Change out towels and washcloths/dishcloths as needed (kitchen, hand towels, bath towels)
* Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters and kitchen table if needed (Don't work on any clutter piles during this blitz, just do what you can get to. The idea is to get the best visual/spatial returns for your time. My kitchen table is still condemned.).

If you want to do more, or you didn't need to do anything in the blitz list, spend 20-30 minutes at a time on the following things (any less than 20 minutes and it seems like too much time is spent switching gears, but you may prefer a different interval. I think 30 minutes is best for me.). Set your timer and change rooms when it goes off.

* Vacuum
* Put away clean laundry
* Start laundry loads/start dryer loads
* Put away clean dishes/wash dirty dishes or load dishwasher
* Sweep and mop hard floors
* Clean bathroom fixtures
* Wash windows
* Dust

We are doing basic home maintenance for phase 3, not decluttering. If you can't get to anything because of clutter (I've been there!), focus on decluttering your kitchen sink and countertops and your bathroom sink and countertops, and then hallways and main walkways. On the other hand, if you are pretty on top of maintenance and none of these things need to be done, work on the lists from Day 1 and Day 2 or spend more time on Phase 2 from today.

Do you feel a little lighter?

A Home for the Holidays Flickr Pool

We have a Flickr pool!

Please post pictures of your accomplishments (and before shots too, if you dare)! Flickr is free to join and you don't even have to sign up if you already have a Yahoo account.

A Home for the Holidays: Read this Post

My friend and aHftH participant Juliana has written a wonderful piece about the emotional aspect of undertaking our challenge. I suggest you read it - it is beautifully written and probably echoes some of the things you've been feeling since starting:

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 3

We've had a couple of really intense days - good for you! Today we're going to have a little change of pace.

First, sit down with a notebook or at your computer, and start thinking of Christmas gift and greeting cards (if you do them - you don't need to start just for this; we're all about simplifying).

I hate it when stores pull out the Christmas stuff before Halloween too, but we're not going to do any decorating. We're just planning ahead so we have some smooth sailing the next month.

Write down names of people you'd like to get gifts for and some ideas you might have. Try to set a price range so you don't blow your budget on gifts. Starting early, you'll be able to have time to find good prices and gifts that fit the recipient and your relationship to them well.

It is also early enough that you could organize a name drawing system for your family or group or get started on handmade gifts (or you could combine them like we are doing in my family this year!). I think this year especially, people will appreciate both the simplicity of buying only one gift and the loving nature of handmade items. Staying within your means will add an extra dimension of restfulness to your holiday season.

Once you have your holiday plan down, you can either pat yourself on the back for completing this day's objectives or work some more on the lists from Day 1 and Day 2. Working ahead in other areas of your house is wonderful, too! This challenge is all about getting your house the way you want it.

A Home for the Holidays: We Have a Button!

Thanks to my fabulously talented sister, Audrey, we have a button and header for the A Home for the Holidays challenge! Grab the code here and put it on your blog to show you're participating!

Copy and paste this code:
<center><a href=""><img src="" /></a></center>

If you like her design style, you should check out her shop!

A Home for the Holidays Blogroll

I will be putting a blogroll in my sidebar for those who are participating and would like a link to their blog. Put your URL in a comment on this post and I will add it! If you don't want a link to a blog, but want to be on the roll, comment with the name you would like to be known by. I also am working on getting a Flickr pool together.

A Home for the Holidays: Day 2

(Please note, the assignments for Day 1 and Day 2 are especially ambitious. You are not intended to finish them in one day, but work for an hour or two toward the list. Then, when there is a daily assignment that you've recently done or one that doesn't apply to you, you can come back and work on these lists.)

Get a box and some trash bags (donate, out of season, too big/too small, needs washing, needs mending, etc.) and head into your bedroom. If you are going to be working hard getting your house into shape, you're going to need a haven to relax off to sleep in.

Before you open your closet or dresser, I want you to close your eyes for a few minutes and think through the following types of questions:

How many dresses do I need? Sweaters? Pairs of jeans? T-Shirts? Consider writing down a number for how many of each item you think would be good to have. For instance, 7 pairs of jeans would last you a week if you wore them every day and didn't wear any other kind of pants or skirt. Most people could make them last at least 2 weeks before laundry had to be done. Do you need more than 7 pairs of jeans?

Put everything that does not belong in your bedroom in the box. Put it in the hallway, or somewhere out of your way.

Now, if there is anything else out besides clothes, put it away. Your floor should be clear.

Dust anything that's easy to get to (i.e. if your dresser is covered with jewelry or perfume or something, leave that for later).

Vacuum the floor.

If you know you'll have some time to devote to this, take all of your clothes and shoes out of your dresser, closet, etc. and put it on the bed or on the floor. Be careful with your hangables so you don't wrinkle them. Sometimes I get an old shower rod and hang it in the hall when I'm doing this, but I have both a narrow hallway and a spare shower rod at hand. A chair can be used to drape across, but it is easy to just lay hangables nicely on your bed without wrinkling them.

If you aren't sure you'll have too much time, try your best to just weed through things as they stay in your drawers/closet. You can set a timer and just quit after an hour or two. We don't want to burn out by going too gung-ho on our first few days, but it does feel good to knuckle down and get some things done!

Do a quick wipedown of any shelves or drawers that might be dusty. Vacuum the bottom of your closet.

Now, think back to the quantities you pondered during the beginning of the list while you put your most favorite clothes back. Put in-season, well-fitting clothes back into your closet and dresser until they are half full. Now it's time to be ruthless. If your closet or dresser is more than 75% of maximum capacity, it's going to be really hard to find things and move things around. You might be liable to leave the drawers stuffed full and not touch them (yes I know this from experience). Be very selective about adding additional clothes to your clothes spaces.

Now, look at what is left. Is there anything you really don't have a hard time parting with? Put it in one bag designated for donation. If you still have clothes left over, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide:

First, set a time limit for how old things can be and not get the axe (you can spare special clothing like heirlooms or wedding dresses, etc., but don't get too carried away with that dress you wore on a date with your ex.) Anything more than (for example) 5 years old gets automatically donated.

Am I saving this because I hope to fit into it one day? If so, will it still be in style? If I AM able to lose that weight, would I be able to afford to treat myself to a few NEW clothes? (remember, clothes retailers often mark things below thrift store prices!)

Am I afraid I might weigh more than I do now, so I am saving this item that is TOO BIG for me? Can I really emotionally afford to be this pessimistic?

Am I saving this because I paid good money for it and only wore it once or twice? If so, try to realize that the space left behind by that item is quite valuable and someone needy can benefit from your donation - nicer items are especially helpful; consider donating to Dress for Success for nice businesswear. Also image how much time you will have to spend treating stains, laundering, drying, and ironing the item if you do decide to keep it.

Am I saving it because it's a nice brand name and I think I could sell it secondhand? If so, give yourself a month to do so - there are consignment stores and also Craiglist/eBay Put these items in a bag and find them a temporary home NOT in your room.

Do you have room to store out of season items? Remember, you can only have as many as will fit nicely (no more than 75% full) in your drawers and closet. You can get bins and bed risers pretty inexpensively if you don't have a similar solution - this way you don't have to dig through your out-of-season clothes every time you are looking for an outfit.

This might take a little courage, but ask your significant other or a close friend if there is anything in the remaining pile that doesn't look good on you. Lots of clothes are cute on the hanger, or even cute before a couple of washes, but then they fade and stretch out and the cut is no longer flattering.

If you still have clothes beyond your capacity (some closets are REALLY small!), there are a few things you can do to help you decide or get the courage to get rid of them:

* Give the clothes to someone you know and like and think will enjoy them.
* Do the backwards-hanger trick in your closet (Turn every hanger around so the end of the hook is facing the door, then when you wear it, put it back regularly. At the end of the time period (3 months?), anything still backwards goes.
* Invite a friend over to help you decide. Offer to do the same for them.
* Put all the remaining clothes in a bag and put it away somewhere not in your room. If you one day decide you'd like to wear something in the bag, go get it, wear it, then put it away in your room. If you can't even remember what is in the bag after a month or so, chances are that you don't really love it.
* Consider starting a clothes-swapping group with similarly-sized friends. You have to give something good if you expect something good, so trade a bag of clothes for another. Since you got the bag basically free, it should be easy to pick the things you love out and pass the rest on. Easy come, easy go! (I always find it easiest to donate things given to me or things I bought inexpensively. I guess I still am battling the tenacity of hyper-thriftiness.)

Now that your clothes are all in order (hooray!), resolve to begin a static inventory system. Whenever you get one new item of clothing, one old item must go! If there is anything that was out in the laundry while you were organizing your clothes, you must get rid of it or swap something else out because your closet and dresser are already at maximum functional capacity! (75% full)

Consider using this same routine for your coats, scarves, hats, gloves, handbags, etc. if you keep them in a hall closet. How many coats can a person really wear in one winter?

Are your clothes beautifully organized? Are you already excited to wear a forgotten favorite you found tomorrow?

Remember the box? Put away everything that has a home. If it doesn't have a home, or you can't get to it's home because of clutter, try to find a staging spot in the room it belongs in (maybe a small cardboard box in each room for the duration of our organizing binge?)

If you still have time, change your bedsheets and do something to freshen the air in your bedroom (air spray, candle, potpourri, etc) and find a good book for your nightstand or pillow. Turn down the covers so when it's time for bed you can just pop in and relax.

(If you already were so on-top of your wardrobe, either work some more on the kitchen (we didn't get to cleaning out the microwave and oven yet), deal with family laundry, or do 3-6 20-minute rotations in different rooms of your house sprucing things up - it'll be easier to dive in deep when we get to other rooms in your house.)

I know you probably didn't finish the kitchen and the bedroom (I think these are the rooms that take the most time), but take a picture of your progress. I bet it already looks lots better than it did before!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Home for the Holidays: Day 1

Day 1 Assignment (if you are taking Sunday off, do this on Monday):

(Please note, the assignments for Day 1 and Day 2 are especially ambitious. You are not intended to finish them in one day, but work for an hour or two toward the list. Then, when there is a daily assignment that you've recently done or one that doesn't apply to you, you can come back and work on these lists.)

Go through the following list until you are done or have spent an hour, whichever comes first (of course if you are on a roll, there's nothing stopping you from doing more).

* Put away any out-of-season decorations (for most of you, this will be Halloween, for me it is Easter :O

Then, since Thanksgiving is the next holiday, let's start in the kitchen:

* Go through the fridge and throw away anything expired/questionable or unwanted
* Go though your pantry and make a meal plan for the week using many of the older items you find (think of the stuff you left in your fridge as well). Throw away anything expired/questionable or unwanted. Don't forget the spice rack and on top of the fridge!
* Throw away all expired or unwanted medications/supplements (even if they are not in your kitchen)
* Look through all your cupboards. Do you have more cooking gadgets than you really need? Several pitchers or pizza cutters? How many do you really use/need? Keep only the best ones.
* Go through your cleaning chemicals. If it's nasty or old or ineffective, it goes.
* Clear off the kitchen table. If it's not used during dinnertime (or is a centerpiece or something else that really belongs there), it's got to go somewhere else.
* Wipe down the blinds/ windowsills
* Clean the windows, at least on the inside
I really don't expect people to get this far in one hour, but here are some more ideas:
* Wipe down the faces of your cupboards unless you've done this recently
* Sweep, mop, clean the baseboards
* Clear off the countertops and put everything in a box that doesn't belong in the kitchen. Put the items away after the countertops are clean.
* You could, you know, do the dishes

We are going for a clean sweep here, so don't feel guilty if you throw away things you spent good money on. Let's just move on and learn our lessons:
* Not to buy particular products again that look tastier on the box than they are
* Not to buy things in bulk that we only use half before it goes stale
* Not to buy more ingredients than we reasonably will use (even if we have grand culinary dreams ;)

(I'm only writing these because these are lessons that I desperately need to learn!)

Imagine your kitchen stocked with only high quality, fresh, tasty, and mostly healthy items. There is enough room in the cupboards and pantry that you can move things around without having to re-pack all the sardines and it is easy to see what you have. Now imagine how it would be to cook Thanksgiving dinner for your family in a clean, functional kitchen. Worth throwing out those 6 boxes of Jello pudding you got on sale and decided you didn't like that much? Remember you can donate unexpired items that you don't want to the food pantry; it might help you let go if doing so will benefit others.

You can consider taking a picture of everything you got rid of or write a summary in your journal. Doesn't it feel good? Do you feel like you have a little more breathing room?

If there is something you don't think you'll buy again, but you'd like a chance to use rather than throwing it away, get out a Sharpie and put your own kill date on it. Then, you won't feel like mean old me came through and told you to get rid of it and you never had a chance to try to use it. Put a date on it a month or two from now and you'll have that time to use it. Throw things away when they reach their kill date (even if it's before the expiration date - and consider donating in this case). This way, if you have something gourmet that you don't usually use it can still be part of an overall system for keeping your pantry uncluttered.

Post your progress! I don't expect you to get very far on this list in an hour (maybe not even past the first item!). Depending on how people do, we'll probably re-visit it.