January Cure 2019: Week 1

When I started this blog in 2015, I kicked things off by sharing my progress with Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. Four years later, I’m ready to tackle it again. I’ve actually signed up for the January Cure every year, but this is the first time I’ve felt like I’ll be able to do more than read the tasks each day—I feel like I can see it through to the end. Which is a good thing, because every room in my house has mysteriously succumbed to a great creeping mess over the last month, a fact that completely baffles me because we weren’t even here for 25% of that time. Is it possible my house has contracted an acute case of entropy? (Science was never my strong suit.) Anyway, I’m planning to recap my progress each week to keep myself accountable. January Cure 2019, here we go!

Assignment #1: Declutter a Drawer

A drawer overflowing with plastic cutlery, drinking straws, lighters, adhesives, and other household ephemera


I knew our junk drawer had gotten out of hand when a friend (who was looking for super glue) commented on how it was “looking a little full.” Under any other circumstances, I would have felt horribly judged, and my hospitality would have frozen over until said “friend” left, never to be invited back. But this particular friend is one I trust to serve up truth with love, so I had to concede he had a point.

As I was finding new/better homes for some of the clutter, it was so tempting to turn “declutter a drawer” into “reorganize a closet” or “dump everything out of its bin and put it into a different, clearly superior bin.” But that was not the brief, and there will be other opportunities to reckon with my closets (next week, in fact!) so I stayed the course and knocked this out in about 20 minutes. Most of that time was spent trying to find a box to put light bulbs in. Every time I think I no longer need to hold back random cardboard shipping boxes from the recycling and I send them to the curb, BAM! I have a pile of stuff that needs to be wrangled. One day, everything will be corralled into a lovely collection of baskets, bowls, and tins. Today is not that day. Tomorrow is looking…iffy.

But hey! One drawer down:

A drawer with a single layer of kitchen-appropriate items like scissors, tape, straws, and bag clips


Assignment #2: Make a List of Projects

A series of household cleaning, organizing, DIY, and shopping to-do lists organized by room

This one was a total cheat, I’ll admit. Some time after we purchased and moved into our house, and during one of my ultimately failed previous Cures, I signed up for Trello and transferred my paper house to-do list to digital form, accessible anywhere. I haven’t checked into Trello regularly in some time, but my old list was still there.

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to check off a handful of things we’ve completed over the past couple of years. (The fact that I’d believed, when I made this list, that 80–90% of the things on it would be done by this point in time is neither here nor there.)

My big project for January is a bit of a gamble: I’d like to polyurethane the windows and trim in the guest room and get the walls and ceiling painted. We managed to stain the windows during our annual, semi-predictable abnormally warm days (I say “semi-predictable” because we seem to have them every January, but when they strike is random), but I can’t count on the weather to cooperate with my need to have my windows completely out of their frames for an entire day—it IS winter, after all.

If that project doesn’t pan out, the next logical choice would be to get everything off the floor of our office. Right now, it’s a dumping ground for anything that has been temporarily displaced by other activities or that doesn’t have a permanent home. Making space for (or, let’s be honest, getting rid of) those things is the first step toward adding a dedicated sewing space to the office. As much as I need the exercise I get from setting up and tearing down a makeshift sewing space in the dining room every time we have friends over to play D&D, I’d prefer to have my hobbies peacefully co-habitate rather than lead competing half-lives.

Assignment #3: Clean the Bedroom & Treat Yourself to Flowers

A wooden dresser, surmounted by a TV and jewelry chest, and littered with paper, clothes, and small boxes


My dresser has been in this state for at least a month, but probably more. Trust me when I say that the rest of the room was just as messy. Most of the clutter was paper I didn’t need to hang onto anymore, and things that belonged in drawers but were, inexplicably, sitting on them instead. All easily dealt with.

I don’t know about other Curers, but this early phase of the process feels a lot less like putting things away and a lot more like redistributing the mess other parts of the house.

Nevertheless, it’s a relief to have clean sheets on the bed, a dust-bunny-free closet, and no more piles of stuff staring me in the face when I open the door. It may not be glamorous or even interesting, but it’s neat:

A wooden dresser, surmounted by a TV, jewelry chest, and small bowl of keychains, with an otherwise clean surface


I also bought flowers, a small bouquet of mixed yellow blooms, but I forgot to photograph them. They’re brightening up the living room and only clashing a teensy bit with the Christmas decorations that still need to be put away.

And that’s Week 1 done and dusted!

Assignment #20: Empty the Outbox

The last lap. It’s done. Finally. And it’s a good thing, too, because the section of the office that we’d designated for the outbox was starting to take over the room:

2015-02-07_1_OutboxHere’s the rundown of where everything went:

Housewares and clothes: Ranging from sweaters and belts to towels and decorative baskets, the items in the three boxes on the left went to the Raleigh GCF Donation Center & Store (Goodwill, for my Virginia readers). The box of housewares to the right is holding items that I’m tentatively saving for my sister-in-law, who recently moved into her first apartment. If she doesn’t want them, they’ll also go to GCF.

Shoes and fabric scraps: The shoes were too worn out to best re-sold in a GCF store, and the fabric scraps were too small to be reused in any of my projects for the foreseeable future. These items went to Clothes the Loop, The North Face’s textile recycling program.

E-waste and plastic bags: Empty ink cartridges. Batteries. An old computer case fan. A whole lot of plastic bags. Although there are probably a handful of different places that can handle these kinds of items, including municipal household waste disposal centers, I find it’s easiest to drop them off at Best Buy’s recycling station, which is always right inside the front doors.

In case you’re wondering, the box on the far left is full of sentimental stuff that I’m not sure what to do with yet. It’ll probably linger in the outbox a while longer. If I come up with a creative solution for dealing with it, I’ll let you know, since I know that sentimental items are always a sticking point when you’re trying pare unneeded/unwanted items.

Assignment #19: Blast the Bathroom

Rounding the corner and the finish line of the January Cure is in sight. I feel like I’ve been dropping off here toward the end, so I’m glad the official activities are nearly over so I can start scheduling things at my own pace.

Since talking about cleaning the bathrooms is boring, I thought I’d share a few ideas I’ve had for decorating the master bath. (If I had my way, we’d be painting it this weekend, but alas, the home improvement fund is rather lean after the pantry installation earlier this month.) We’ve sort of gone about things backward, since we bought new towels, a bathmat, a soap dispenser, and a toothbrush holder about nine months ago, but the walls are still beige and we could use an étagère. Here are a few ways we could fix that.


1 – Light Pewter // 2 – Peace and Happiness // 3 – HJÄLMAREN // 4 – VITTSJÖ // 5 – Chevron Shower Curtain // 6 – Cabana Strip Shower Curtain // 7 – Paisley Shower Curtain  // 8 – Hampton Links Shower Curtain

The first paint color is the lightest shade on the same card as our bedroom paint color and, despite how it looks on screen, it’s actually grey, not tan. After true white, it’s the easiest choice. I’ve been thinking it could also be fun to bring in something a little different in the form of a pinky lavender like the one shown above, but I’m a lot less sure how I feel about it. I’m afraid I’ll get bored of it too quickly, and I don’t know if it will jive with whatever accent color we eventually pick for the master bedroom. But I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of creating a palette that’s a little warmer, a little softer, and a little more sophisticated than I may have originally imagined.

For an étagère, I keep coming back to this relaxed, leaning style. I don’t think it’s terribly practical as a bookshelf—not when you have as many books as I do, anyway—but for rolled towels and a basket of toiletries I think it could be perfect. For something with a little more shelf real estate, there’s the more traditional option on the right. I’d like to think the glass shelves would keep it from feeling too heavy in the small space of the bathroom. I’m even entertaining the idea of spray painting it in a metallic like Censational Girl or Bethany Seawright from Apartment Therapy’s Design Diary, who was inspired by Just Bella.

Finally, the shower curtain. I’m actually quite fond of the white one we have, because it’s made out of this lovely dense cotton gauze with a waffle weave. But the first time I washed it (in cold water) and dried it (on low), it shrank horribly. Now it doesn’t really stretch from one end of the shower to the other, and it drives me a little crazy. Okay, a lot crazy. So for fun, I looked at a few patterned curtains to replace it. The first is supposed to be grey and white; it seems to match the paint swatch well, but I’m a little afraid it’s closer to beige and cream, so I’d need to see it in person. The slightly painterly chevrons are a lot less structured than I usually go for in a pattern, as evidenced by my other three choices. The cabana stripe feels classic, as does the links pattern, though the latter may be a little overpowering and better as a bedspread rather than a curtain. I couldn’t resist throwing in a paisley, though I’d probably need a different shade of grey walls to pull it off. But the touch of yellow would be cheery in a space that gets no natural light.

It was nice to get a couple of ideas down, even if they might change, because it’s allowed me to see trends in what I gravitate toward in a way that mindless online browsing doesn’t. Do you collect inspiration in moodboards, or dive right into your designs? Have you ever been surprised by the patterns that emerge?

Assignment #18: Digital Dump

In previous years, this assignment was dedicated to digitizing files, which I had been dreading and looking forward to in equal measure. When Justin and I first got married, I was obsessed with keeping hard copies of everything—bills, receipts for paid bills, rental agreements, amendments to same, every version of every insurance policy document—because I was mortally afraid that I’d pay a bill online, the transaction wouldn’t be completed, and then collections would come to knock down my door and repossess my furniture. Money was tight, and I was afraid that one wrong move would ruin our credit forever.

The result looks something like this:


As it turns out, we managed just fine. A few minor slip-ups were easily corrected, and nothing money-related we did online ever failed catastrophically. And yet, the paper remains. Sorting through everything, digitizing, labeling, and filing the important stuff—and then shredding everything when I’m done—is going to be a monumental task.

Luckily, the assignment says to spend only 30 minutes focused on improving one area. Since digitizing will definitely take more than one evening, I decided that I had a more pressing issue to address: the fact that I haven’t back up anything in an appalling long time.

I started by ripping two CDs that I received for Christmas to my computer. Then I pulled out our external hard drive, wiped all of the outdated information saved on it, and promptly copied over my documents, pictures, and music. It certainly doesn’t capture everything, but it does provide a stop-gap for my most important data.

When I have a solid weekend that I can dedicate to it, I plan to do the following:

  1. Research options to backup my computer and Justin’s to the same device, automatically.
  2. Research cloud storage options for additional protection.
  3. Digitize all physical files, preserving the ones that are smart to have in hard copy and shredding the rest.
  4. Review documents and photos; purge anything that is no longer needed/wanted and improve the organization of everything that remains.
  5. Check smartphones for photos or information that should be backed up on a less lose-able/less drop-able device.
  6. Fine tune our home network to better share information across devices.
  7. Clean everything inside and out: wipe down keyboards and mice, blow out cases, replace old fans, run disk defragmenter, etc.

I’m sure I’ve missed something, but it seems like a solid start anyway. What things do you do to protect your data and stay organized at the same time?

Assignment #17: Catch Up Day

Today was supposed to be focused on cleaning up the bedroom since I didn’t get to it during its dedicated weekend. I washed and ironed the bedding this past weekend, and planned to dust, vacuum, and do general tidying tonight. But I came home feeling a bit under the weather—which was cold, grey, and soggy—so I decided that it was a sign that the bedroom just wasn’t going to get its day this month and let it go.

But lest you think I’m the type that would succumb to spending a whole evening melting into the couch, here’s proof that I’m working on other things besides just sprucing up the apartment:

2015-01-26_WIPsFirst sewing and knitting projects of 2015. Can. Not. Wait.