#622 The Frugal Foodie’s Playbook: Mastering Meal Planning and Smart Shopping

#622 The Frugal Foodie’s Playbook: Mastering Meal Planning and Smart Shopping

622 The Frugal Foodie’s Playbook: Mastering Meal Planning and Smart Shopping

Hey there, friends! Are you feeling the pinch of rising food costs?

In this episode of Clutter Free Academy, Kathi Lipp, and Tonya Kubo tackle the timely issue of rising food costs and share practical tips to help listeners save money on groceries without sacrificing quality or taste. With their signature humor and relatable examples, Kathi and Tonya dive into strategies like meal planning, inventive use of leftovers, and tapping into community resources.

Listeners will discover:

  • How to create a pantry and fridge inventory to reduce food waste
  • The power of “loop meals” and repurposing leftovers
  • Tips for buying in bulk wisely

Whether you’re taking part in the Low Buy July challenge or simply looking to trim your grocery budget, this episode is packed with actionable advice and encouragement. Don’t miss out on these frugal food hacks that will help you nourish your family without breaking the bank!

Here are the 50 Breakfast and 50 Dinner Ideas mentioned in the episode.

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The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

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How do you reduce food waste or save money?

Share them the comments!

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Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture
Kathi (00:00)
Hey friends, welcome to clutter free Academy where our goal is to help you take small doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life and I am here with the fabulous but exhausted Tonya Kubo. She was partying all weekend. She saw people get married there have been graduations I is this is this podcast the most relaxing thing you’ve done all week?

Tonya Kubo (00:24)
It most certainly is.

Kathi (00:28)
Yeah, I remember I canceled something on you on Monday. I’m like, I’m so sorry. So you’re like, thank you.

Tonya Kubo (00:31)
Yes! I was like, my gosh! I just got a whole hour back in my life.

Kathi (00:39)
I am currently not experiencing those kind of weeks, but I know they are yet to come because I have a book coming out in October. And with the the couple months before and the couple months after, it’s like, somebody canceled an appointment. You are my hero. And yeah, I want to sing like Mariah Carey. And yeah, it’s it’s. But, you know,

Tonya Kubo (00:44)



Ha ha ha ha ha.

Kathi (01:08)
not that we’re talking about that book, but we’re talking about some of the the feelings behind that book. That book is called Sabbath Soup and we are talking about food and if you turn on if you’re on social media at all, if you turn on the news, everybody is talking about the cost of food. It’s it’s I think in some.

Tonya Kubo (01:15)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (01:34)
Areas, it’s pretty much the same. Other areas, it feels insane. We are not at the egg crisis we were several months ago. And we still had chickens at that point and we’re very, very grateful for them. But you are not the primary shopper in your house, is that correct?

Tonya Kubo (01:37)
Mm -hmm. Right.

No, unless we’re shopping online. I will do all the shopping online, but usually Brian is the one who really likes to go to the grocery store because he likes to buy stuff. He doesn’t care what he buys. He just wants to buy the stuff.

Kathi (01:58)

isn’t that the, it’s such, it’s so true, right? Like I was telling somebody recently, like I get the same hit if I’m buying a dress at Nordstrom or a Costco chicken. Like I just like buying stuff, which I understand is my cluttery person like aching to get out.

Tonya Kubo (02:24)

Kathi (02:33)
And I have to tell you, I was so proud of Roger the other day because Roger is definitely like, he loves to buy convenience. He loves it. And the other day he was bringing home sandwiches. There were some circumstances and he was bringing home sandwiches. And he said, but we’ve got drinks and chips at home. And I’m like, my thrifty buddy. He goes, I’m learning. Cause I mean, you add drinks and chips to…

Tonya Kubo (02:41)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.


Kathi (03:02)
a sandwich order, that can be five or six dollars.

Tonya Kubo (03:04)
yeah. Mm hmm. yeah. No, there used to be a time when, you know, like iced tea, for instance, would be like a dollar cheaper than sodas. And now everything is $4 .50 or $5. Like each beverage is $4 .50 or $5 at the restaurants where we go.

Kathi (03:12)
Right? Yeah, nope.

Yeah, we rarely go to McDonald’s. I mean, rarely. But when we do, our order is always the same. It’s two Diet Cokes, an ice water, and a hamburger, a small hamburger patty, no salt. So half that order is for Moose because she gets the patty and the ice water. Ice water is her favorite treat. And she’s such a weird dog. And then we get the Diet Cokes because it’s…

Tonya Kubo (03:36)


Mm -hmm.

Kathi (03:50)
It can be $30 for us. And we’re not even talking about fast food today. We’re just talking about grocery shopping. And how can we keep the costs of all things groceries down? And you have kids. So let me just say that was not a cheap choice, Tonya Yeah, you’re going to need to.

Tonya Kubo (03:52)
Mm -hmm.


Mm -hmm.

No, it really wasn’t. It wasn’t. But I don’t think anybody has kids to save money. I don’t think that’s why you go into it.

Kathi (04:20)
I would love We’re gonna we’re gonna put our ideas here Tonya But when we do and you’re the queen of all things clutter free in the Facebook group I would love to get our our members ideas about this because we’re gonna share Approximately ten ideas on how you can save on your grocery budget, but I know the the the people in that group are

They’re geniuses. There is something about cluttery people and just the ways that they think differently that I just, I love and adore I love it so much.

Tonya Kubo (04:54)
Mm -hmm.


I agree, I agree. Well, and should we talk about what we’ve got going on in the group? Yeah, because I mean, part of why we’re talking about ways to buy less food today is because we’re doing things a little differently this year, is we are going into a challenge that’s in our Clutterfree Academy free Facebook group. Anybody can join that and also our Clutterfree for Life paid membership program. It’s a little crossover. We’re calling it Low Buy July.

Kathi (05:06)
Yeah, go for it. Tell us everything.



Tonya Kubo (05:31)
And let me tell you, so there’s two reasons we’re calling it Low Buy July. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you remember that we oftentimes do No Buy July. There’s two problems with No Buy July. Problem number one is people have graduations and weddings and they think spending five cents automatically fails the challenge and they get very, very sad and very ashamed. Or they think they can’t replace their refrigerator that broke.

Right? And that’s not the intent of the challenge. The intent is really to minimize impulse purchases. But this year, Kathi you were the one who really pointed out that with the cost of things going up so high, people are not able to stock up like they once did. And so it’s unlikely that a lot of people have a full month’s worth of food in a freezer or in a pantry.

Kathi (06:15)
Mm -mm.

Right, right.

Tonya Kubo (06:23)
And so really we’re calling it low Buy July and we’re looking at how can we reduce our spending on all the things throughout the month. And I think food, at least in my family, Kathi, food is the highest percentage of our income outside of the mortgage. Like that, or I should say our expenses outside of the mortgage. That’s where we spend the most.

Kathi (06:26)
Mm -hmm.


Of course, it makes total sense because you guys have four members in your family. You want them to be healthy people. And so, you know, you’re not just buying ramen for every meal because that is the cheapest way. And I know plenty of college kids who live that way. But we’re looking for a little bit higher quality of life than that. So we’re going to give you 10 tips.

Tonya Kubo (06:57)

Mm -hmm.

Kathi (07:11)
That will not only reduce your grocery budget, but just keep you you It’s buying less food. That’s maybe it’s not consuming less food, but it’s it’s buying less food and I’m gonna give you my number one and Because I am the queen of buying what we already have and there’s a so for me having a day each week to clean out the fridge and just kind of

Tonya Kubo (07:18)
Mm -hmm.


Kathi (07:40)
Laying eyes on and seeing what we have. There’s a great tick tocker. He has a whole song go to the store by Hoonans sauce come home. no, we had Hoonans sauce go to the store, but like he has Six and if I’m pronouncing that incorrectly, please forgive me, but he has six Hoonans sauces and it’s like it’s that thing that you don’t know if you have it for sure so I

Tonya Kubo (07:57)
Mm -hmm.


Kathi (08:10)
You don’t want to run out. And Roger did this for years with baby food, even when his kids were like in school. Like he was so terrified of running out of something they needed. And so doing that inventory is so critical and helps you save from buying things you don’t need to. You know, like this week, I’ve got some baby potatoes that.

Tonya Kubo (08:29)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (08:38)
Need you know something needs to happen with them. I’ve got some mushrooms. I’ve got some chicken that needs to get cooked like that that inventory helps me plan the rest of my meals and keeps me from wasting food and so if you can kind of there are a couple of ways to do it you can pick meals and then see what you have and then go shopping or you can see what you have plan meals around that and then go shopping so

In Low Buy July, I’m really going to challenge people to see what they have and what can you make with that.

Tonya Kubo (09:15)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (09:17)
I think that that’s going to be the best way to do it. Okay, Tonya what is your next tip that? Yeah. Yes. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (09:24)
Well, I think if your first tip, I just have to jump in because I’m so excited. Because if the first tip is inventory, fridge, freezer, pantry, then, and you touched on this a little bit, then the second tip has to be meal planning. And I think you made a really good point is that some people like to see what’s on sale and meal plan based on sales and then see what they have and then make their grocery list.

Kathi (09:33)
Mm -hmm.


Tonya Kubo (09:54)
I actually like to see what I have, just like you do, and meal plan based on what I have, because regardless of what’s on sale, I want to spend as little at the grocery store as possible. So if I can get away with just buying four things at the grocery store, and yes, please, I’ll pause for a moment so everybody can laugh, because no family of four ever gets to buy four things at the grocery store. But if I can get away…

Kathi (09:57)


Tonya Kubo (10:19)
this week with just buying four things and then turning around and buying my normal 25 items next week, awesome. I think I’m so much further ahead than if I am consistently telling myself I have to have a big long shopping list every time I go to the store.

Kathi (10:35)
It’s so true, you know, and we have to figure out there are times when there may be nothing in the fridge and that’s okay. We can still figure out exactly, we can take that inventory, we can say, okay, you know what, I need to restock. There is no point in trying to build on this.

You know, you can’t build on celery and turnips. Like, that’s going to be the saddest soup ever. But I want you to say, okay, is there something in the freezer? Is there something I can defrost? Is there something that I can do in order to make this work so I am not having to buy everything all the time? Because I know that we can, it’s so frustrating to go buy the chicken and see the chicken in your…

Tonya Kubo (11:00)
Mm -hmm.


Mm -hmm.

Kathi (11:30)
in your fridge or to sit and I don’t want you to have this giant back stock of freezer food so that you are not able to buy stuff. You know, it’s so I’ve done this so many times. I’m sorry, I’m getting tongue tied here, but like I’ll come home with stuff for the freezer because I don’t know what I have. And then I’m adding things to the freezer that I don’t actually need.

Tonya Kubo (11:40)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (12:00)
I run out of room in the freezer. It’s just, it’s a vicious cycle that I want to end and I wanna be smarter about. And I will say, I am so much better than I used to be, but it’s still something that I need to be cognizant of because when I feel like I’m running out of time, that’s where I get into trouble. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (12:05)
Mm -hmm.

Right. Well, anytime we feel desperate, I think, is problematic.

Kathi (12:28)
Yes, and I think especially when we’re running out of time or energy, that’s when we feel like, okay, I just need to make something happen. Okay, so number three, we’re getting into the planning space again, because I think planning is a big part of this. And so some people meal plan, like one of the things that’s been very helpful,

We’ll get this resource together because I know people have begged us for it. It was, I can’t remember if it was 30 or 50, but it was Meal Time Ideas.

Tonya Kubo (13:07)
Yes, yes, we have a breakfast one and a dinner one.

Kathi (13:11)
And I don’t know why we don’t have a lunch one, but you know what, maybe that is to come. But here’s the thing, I know when I sit down to meal plan, I can’t remember anything I’ve ever made at any point in my life ever. And I can’t think of a meal, I can’t think of an idea. And this is, this isn’t, you should make these 50 meals, otherwise you’re not a good cook. This is, check out these meals.

Tonya Kubo (13:39)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (13:39)
maybe they’ll springboard some ideas for you. So Tonya I know we have a lot of, what are your go -to meal ideas?

Tonya Kubo (13:49)
yeah, so we’re pretty simple in this house. So go to Meal Ideas for us. You know, when in doubt, Brian will oftentimes just do like pasta and a meat sauce, like if that’s available. Personally, you know, I prefer just some kind of meat and rice. And the reason I prefer that is because I can take that whatever vegetable we decide to serve with it, that gets to be repurposed into fried rice. And my family will eat

Kathi (14:17)

Tonya Kubo (14:18)
just about anything in the form of fried rice. So you know that like overcooked steak or the overcooked chicken, the vegetables that everybody thought were too soggy, I just chopped those up really fine, throw them in, make some fried rice and everybody’s happy.

Kathi (14:23)

Mm -hmm.

I love that so much. Okay, number four, Tanya. This is one of my favorite. Tell us a little bit about loop meals in your house.

Tonya Kubo (14:47)
yes, well I didn’t know that they were called that until I picked up your book. Let me remember, I always call it Six Chicks Freeze and Fix, but that is not what it’s called. Thank you, thank you. Kathi you may know me for 10 more years and you will still have to remind me that that is the name of the book. Yeah, but the idea of, I mean it’s two things, right? It’s first of all, cooking.

Kathi (14:56)
Yeah, it’s called the What’s for Dinner solution.

I am here for it, don’t you worry.

Tonya Kubo (15:14)
with the intention of having leftovers that you can repurpose. But also what I have found is I’ve just gotten good at recognizing what I can make with leftovers, right? It’s like, you know, we use the classic example of the rotisserie chicken, but I mean, like I cook chicken, like a whole chicken in my Instant Pot all the time, is taking that and going, yeah, we can eat, you know, chicken and potatoes and veggies tonight for dinner, but that gets to be turned into…

chicken enchilada casserole or tacos or chicken quesadillas or like I mentioned before, fried rice, because everything gets turned into fried rice around here. But those sorts of ideas are so helpful and it’s even led me to just pre -cooking certain things, like always having, you know, maybe like a quart size freezer bag of chopped up cooked chicken or ground ground meat. Having that…

Kathi (15:49)

Tonya Kubo (16:09)
Because don’t you think thawing the raw meat and cooking it is one of the longest, most planning intensive aspects of cooking?

Kathi (16:16)
Yes, and you have to hit it just right. That’s how it feels like. Yeah. Okay, so you know how you plan for leftovers and your go -to is fried rice? Mine has become quiche.

Tonya Kubo (16:20)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.


Kathi (16:34)
So just always having a store -bought pie crust in the freezer. And you just mix up some eggs, some milk, some seasoning. And I had some leftover spinach and some cheese and some bacon. And Roger says it is the best quiche he’s ever had. And.

Tonya Kubo (16:39)

Mm -hmm.

So can I tell you Lily’s favorite thing on the quiche front that I recently did? So I had ground beef and I’d read something like Pinterest or whatever, right? So it was like ground beef. And then I took eggs, a little touch of cream, because we keep heavy cream in the house, and Parmesan cheese, mixed that all up, threw that in an eight by eight, baked it, like 350 for like 25 minutes. And Lily was like, this is the yummiest breakfast casserole ever.

Kathi (16:56)
Yes, do tell.


There you go. We’re making miracles here for our family, Tonya Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (17:27)
I’m telling you Parmesan cheese, it’s like, it cures all the things.

Kathi (17:31)
Okay, we’re gonna come back. We’re gonna come to number five, which I’m really, really excited about. And when we do, we’re just gonna take a quick break. And then we’re gonna talk about something I’ve just started to do recently, that has been a game changer for us. So we’ll, I’ll tell you my secret when we come back. Okay, we are back. And we’re talking about how do you reduce the amount of food that you’re buying?

So number five for me is, I’m just gonna call it a vegetable chop. And in the summer, the vegetable chop for me is cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions. And you may be like, okay, well how does that save money? It saves money because I use it all up. I use it all up, and I use it in a million different ways. I use it.

Tonya Kubo (18:06)


Kathi (18:26)
just as a salad just on its own like that. I’ll put some Italian dressing on it or balsamic dressing on it. Add in some salt and pepper, maybe a little bit of feta cheese. Delightful. The other day I took some of that that had been marinating already in that balsamic vinaigrette and I threw it on top of a salad and put some croutons, I put it on top of romaine lettuce and it was delightful.

I also use it as kind of a bruschetta. You know, you can can that on top of toasted bread. There are a million things you can do with it and it is delicious every time. Now in the winter, I do the same thing, but I do it with celery, carrots, and onions. And you know, that can go into a casserole after it’s been sauteed. There are a million things that can be done with it and it’s delicious.

Okay, Tanya, take us to number six.

Tonya Kubo (19:27)
All right, so I think number six, I believe it’s very important to own your privilege in things. And so number six probably works best if you have older kids in the house or if it’s all adults versus having littles. But my idea for spending less on food is having your on your own nights, right? So we call them like Y -O -Y -O, like yo -yo nights.

Kathi (19:56)
You’re on your own, baby.

Tonya Kubo (19:57)
Right. Because the thing is, is you get to decide what you want to have for dinner. Toddlers don’t always make great decisions that help to save money, but older kids do. And so I think this works out really well for those nights when you have like enough of something for one person or maybe like as a side to something else.

Kathi (20:19)
Mm -hmm. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (20:22)
And so everybody gets to go through the fridge, look at the leftovers and just decide what they’re having and then fill in the gaps with whatever they want. Abbey loves to make her own lunchable, otherwise known as charcuterie, right? So she’ll do crackers, cheese and salami and some fruit and she’s super happy. Lily likes to have that too, but Lily’s also somebody who doesn’t mind eating leftover spaghetti and fried rice in the same plate.

Kathi (20:33)

Right, right. And you know, when my kids were younger, we did these with, they were plastic trays that looked like TV trays, like TV dinner trays. And yeah, you know, that’s tonight’s dinner for us is you’re on your own because we had a fig, fig jam and brie burgers last night that were delicious. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (20:54)
Okay. Yeah.

Yum. That’s the yummiest leftover ever.

Kathi (21:12)
Right. And so we still have one of the half of one of those burgers left. I’ve got some I made some macaroni salad. But my mom and I have leftovers from a restaurant we went to. So we’re just going to be we’re going to be you know, not every meal has to have, you know, a main a veg and a side like sometimes you can just say, Hey, I need a night off or it’s too hot to cook. Let’s

Let’s make some wise decisions here and use up what we have. And this has become very important to us since we don’t have chickens currently because we’re not throwing anything to them. So yes. OK, number seven. And here is a, there’s a big old asterisk next to this, but I just want to talk about buying in bulk. Now,

Tonya Kubo (21:44)
Mm -hmm. Exactly.

Kathi (22:06)
I will tell you, you know, Roger is to baby food as Kathi is to Costco. Why was I continuing to buy huge containers of things when it was just me and Roger? You know, so I’ve had to dial back on this, but there are still some things that we go through pretty regularly.

Tonya Kubo (22:12)

Kathi (22:30)
One convenient, I’m just gonna call it a convenience food that we love, is these little bowls of rice that are pre -packaged. You just peel them off and you put them in the microwave, I think for 90 seconds and you’re good to go. Now, I could make a whole big batch of rice. I could, you know what? I’m gonna buy a little convenience and I’m okay with that.

Tonya Kubo (22:39)

Mm -hmm.

Kathi (22:56)
We actually, you know, we go through a lot of flour at our house. We go through, I’m trying to think of the things we go through that we buy in large portions. And it’s okay. It’s okay that we do that. But don’t be buying things at Costco just because it’s a deal and then not use them.

Tonya Kubo (23:20)
Yes, I think that’s the important part. We do, I think we just get into these habits where we’re used to buying a certain amount of an item.

at a certain frequency and when something changes the frequency or even when we go on vacation for a week or two if we don’t manage the quantity in which we buy things start to back up really really fast.

Kathi (23:30)


Well, and let’s just also say the people in our family, you know, if only they would do the same thing this week that they did last week. Right? You know, last week they couldn’t eat enough bananas. This week, bananas are gross, mom.

Tonya Kubo (23:50)

Yes, yes, and we ruined their lives by buying bananas.

Kathi (24:02)
my goodness, isn’t that the truth? Okay, we’re closing in. Tonya number eight.

Tonya Kubo (24:10)
number eight is using an app to track your food expiration dates. And I know that this is something that you taught me about because I would never do this. I eat and cook things unless they smell funny or look funny.

Kathi (24:24)
Mm -hmm.

Tonya Kubo (24:25)
because that’s the kind of house I grew up in. But of course, you know, Brian, he’s the king of the Serve Safe certificates. He does not want to eat anything if it’s like more than a day past its code and more than three days in the fridge. So the USDA, Kathi, and I don’t have it handy, so I’m hoping we can put this in the show notes, but the USDA has an app that will help you track expiration dates. And I think that prevents people from throwing food away.

Kathi (24:50)

Tonya Kubo (24:56)
that they don’t need to throw away.

Kathi (24:58)
Yes, it’s so true. I, I, who’s the itchy trigger finger in your household? Is it? No, it’s Brian. Yeah, it’s totally Brian In my house. It’s Roger. Now, like, he wants to if the milk expires on June 10, he wants to throw it away on June 9, just to be sure. And I’m like, I will murder you in your sleep. Like,

Tonya Kubo (25:05)
Yeah, it’s totally bright.

Mm -hmm.

Yeah. Well, and the thing with milk is temperature affects milk so much. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up a jug of milk five days before the expiration date and it is sour and curdled and makes me want to move houses. And then there’s other times where it’s like four days past the date and it’s perfectly fine.

Kathi (25:40)

Yeah. Yes. Yeah. You know, you can smell milk. It will let you know when it’s time to go. It will let you know. Yeah, it’s no, no, no, they they let you know right up front. Exactly. Okay, number nine, which is not a solution for everybody. But I do think it’s a solution for many of us is grow. If you’re not going to grow fruits or vegetables, which I totally understand, at

Tonya Kubo (25:52)
Milk and eggs will not trick you at all.

Mm -hmm.

Kathi (26:13)
try growing your own herbs. You know, and it’s, they make it so convenient. It’s less expensive oftentimes to go buy that basil plant at Home Depot than it is to buy that little sprig of basil at the grocery store. And if you just put it in the pot and you pay attention to it maybe once a week, you’re gonna be good to go. And so I love…

growing my own herbs for basil, oregano, chives, green onions. Now we also do tomatoes and things like that, but it is so easy to grow those herbs. And if you forget about it, don’t go to the store and buy more herbs, go to Home Depot. It’s often gonna be cheaper for you to do that. Okay.

Tonya Kubo (27:06)

Kathi (27:10)
and Tanya, bring us home with number 10.

Tonya Kubo (27:12)
All right, so number 10 is one of those things where I feel like people have a stigma, Kathi. So I would like for us to destigmatize the use of public resources for saving food costs. So for instance, obviously, like there’s a food bank, right? So and people have a lot of opinions about food banks, but you would be surprised at how

Kathi (27:18)
Mm -hmm.

Let’s do it.



Lots of big feelings.

Tonya Kubo (27:40)
lenient the standards are for who qualifies to go to a food bank and who doesn’t. But beyond a food bank, we have this really cool thing in my town. And I know you’ve got some similar programs near where you’re at. But we have a community garden. They call it the People’s Garden. And there’s what they call the People’s Pantry and the People’s Fridge. So what these were. So you’ve got the community garden, you know, you donate so many hours per week to tending the garden and then you get a share.

Kathi (27:56)
Mm -hmm.


Tonya Kubo (28:10)
of what is produced in that garden. But anybody who has extra stuff in their home, extra rice, extra dried beans, you can then donate it to the people’s pantry or the people’s fridge if it’s perishable, say eggs for instance. And then anybody can go there and just grab, there’s no sign in, sign out or anything, you just open the fridge. If there’s some stuff in there that you would use, you get to just take that home with you, the same with the pantry. But it’s this amazing collaborative sort of cooperative environment.

Kathi (28:22)
Mm -hmm.

Tonya Kubo (28:38)
that really helps a lot of folks just make it to the end of the month or make it when there’s a little bit more month than money.

Kathi (28:45)
You know, and I want to talk about this from both sides because I have lived on both sides of this where we have donated a lot to food pantries. We do it through our church pretty regularly, especially they want canned tomatoes, you know, whether whatever kind of variation of canned tomatoes. I’m like, I can always give up some of my canned tomatoes. But I was on the other side of this where I was a single mom living below the poverty line.

Tonya Kubo (29:03)

Kathi (29:14)
Why did I not take advantage of this? I think it was embarrassment, it was shame. And today, if I needed to, I would 100 % take advantage of that. I feel it’s a lot like when I go to my mom’s house and they have extra figs Like, you know.

Tonya Kubo (29:33)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (29:34)
I’m going to take the figs because otherwise it’s going to go bad. Now we don’t currently participate in shopping at a food pantry, but it would be my first suggestion for anybody who’s struggling. And you are not, you are, the food pantry knows what they have. They know who they are able to help.

Tonya Kubo (29:55)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (29:59)
And you just have to ask, they all have websites, you can go and check it out. They have ways of doing it. I follow a couple of people on TikTok who go to food pantries. You can use AI to help you plan some meals then if you’re not sure what, because oftentimes you’ll get things in a food pantry that maybe you’ve never used before. And that’s okay, you know, this will expand what you’re able to do with your cooking and your repertoire. But I think it’s really important.

Tonya Kubo (30:19)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (30:28)
to take advantage of these kind of programs, especially if you are struggling financially right now. There are also gleaning programs where if you go and you help pick fruit or you help pick vegetables, you can take a portion of those home. Depending on your abilities, that’s a really great way. So I think a good place to find some of these things are in your local buy nothing group, your community groups.

Tonya Kubo (30:35)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Kathi (30:56)
There are Reddit pages for different communities and what’s available. Tonya, how do you find out about things in your community?

Tonya Kubo (31:06)
Well, you know, I’m lucky enough to be pretty plugged in, but like you said, but I mean, really is like almost every community has their own like Facebook group or, you know, neighborhood community, like my own neighborhood, you know, we have a group me, but those sorts of resources and when in doubt, just ask someone. And I do want to go back to just this idea of stigma around.

Kathi (31:09)
I was just gonna say you’re the most community plugged in person I know.

Mm -hmm.


Tonya Kubo (31:35)
any sort of food support system, whether it’s a food bank or sometimes farmers markets have special programs. Like if you come like at the farmers market when it closes, you know, a lot of the farmers will let you have what they have on hand is I think one thing that stops a lot of people isn’t necessarily shame, but an assumption that somebody else needs it more than they do, which I love because our cluttery people have the most generous hearts out there. But I just want to say,

Kathi (31:46)
Yeah. Right.


Mm -hmm, yes.

Tonya Kubo (32:03)
It is perfectly okay for you to prioritize your own needs and get the help that you need and trust that the organizations that provide these sorts of support services, like you said, Kathi, they know their capacity.

Kathi (32:08)
Mm -hmm.

Yes, and two more things I want to mention that maybe you just need that support for a couple of months. Maybe you’re going through a tough time and you know funds are lean, you’ve got medical bills, you’ve got it’s the beginning of school. Take advantage. Another thought is there are lots of community programs.

for children and senior citizens. California just did a $40 a month thing for kids who are on lunch programs. And then in our community, Monday through Friday, except for on holidays, there’s a senior lunch.

Tonya Kubo (32:43)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (33:00)
And Roger will proudly tell you that he is old enough to take advantage of that now. We have not availed ourselves of those services yet. But you know what? I think that there’s something really important there. Sometimes it’s not just about the food, it’s also about the community. And if you feel embarrassed to say, hey, is there a way I could help? Could I come and clean up? Could I come and serve food? If you’re able -bodied, those are things that you can do.

Tonya Kubo (33:05)

Kathi (33:29)
Tonya, this is such a information packed thing. I’m sorry, we’ve had construction going on around our house and a barking dog. And I apologize if I seemed a little off my game, but the information is solid, I promise. So thanks for hanging with us. You’ve been listening to Clutter -Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter -free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#619 Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

#619 Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

619 – Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

Welcome back, our sentimental decluttering friends!

In part 2 of the Clutter Free Academy series on decluttering sentimental items, Kathi Lipp and Tonya Kubo explore the art of curating and displaying emotional items in a meaningful way. Throughout the episode, they emphasize the importance of being intentional and selective in your curation process, ensuring that each displayed item truly reflects your heart and brings joy to your space. Listen in as they share insights and inspiration about sentimental items, such as:

  • How to transform your emotional clutter into beautiful, intentional keepsakes
  • How gallery walls, shadowboxes, and themed displays can be used to honor your loved one
  • How sharing the narratives behind sentimental items can enhance their value and significance.

With their insights and inspiration, you’ll be well-equipped to transform your sentimental clutter into beautiful, purposeful keepsakes. So, grab a tissue (just in case) and join us for this heartfelt conversation!

Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Here it is for you. #618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

Click here to be notified when the next episode of Clutter Free Academy is released.

Also, stay up to date and sign up here to receive our newsletter.


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and access a copy of the Decision Tree for Letting Go of Emotional Items that Kathi mentions in this episode.

Clutter Free Resources:

Can you share some of your favorite creative display ideas for sentimental items?

Share them the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi Lipp [00:00:08]:
Well, hey, friends, welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And we are back for part two of. Yeah, I think that we are going to be referencing this podcast over and over and over again in our free group, in our paid group. And just as people are struggling to, they don’t know what to do with their sentimental items, whether they were passed on from a loved one or something from your childhood that you are just having a hard time. Like, do I keep it? The song should I stay or should I go? Keeps going through my brain. And we’ve got somebody here who’s going to help us decide. It’s Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo [00:00:54]:
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:00:55]:
Well, I just want to dive back into this conversation that we are having about getting rid of sentimental items. So you also think that we need to talk about the space and lifestyle considerations.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:11]:
There are some things that are absolutely ginormous, and there are some things that aren’t ginormous, but they’re bigger than the space you have. And so I think you have to think about, you know, does this item align with my current lifestyle and my current space? And, you know, if the answer to that is yes, then by all means, find a suitable place for it or repurpose it. So I think of, I didn’t do this. I got rid of it. But remember, when I bought this house, it came with everything in it, which sounded like a deal, until I realized that really, it was just a bunch of stuff that I had to take to the dump.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:51]:
But one of the things, including the stove. Right, right.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:54]:
I’m gonna talk about the stove.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:56]:
You know, I’m gonna talk about the stove. The stove is what I can’t forget.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:59]:
Yes, right. 1949 Wedgewood gas stove. I mean, the thing restored would have been gorgeous. And the family had driven three states over which we live in California. It takes a very long time to get to another state. This isn’t like going from Massachusetts to a neighboring state. So they’d driven to another state. They’d paid several thousand dollars, but they had to rent a vehicle cause it weighed a ton.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:25]:
Four grown men were required in order to lift it out of here. But when they turned this house into a rental, they put it in the garage. Critters had taken up habitants in there, but they were really caught up in, like, no, we pretty much gave you a $4,000 gift here. Like, we covered your closing costs with this stove. And I’m like, yeah, and I’m just, like, looking at it. But eventually we kind of got to the point where, I mean, we knew that we were going to sell it. Once we saw how heavy it was. We’re like, we’re not going to be able to get that into the house.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:57]:
No, we’re gonna sell it. We tried for three years to sell it. Couldn’t find a buyer. Now, if I had deep sentimental attachment and some skill, which I don’t have, by the way, let’s just be clear there. I could have probably turned it into, like, a really cool, succulent planner, right. Because it had, like, all these cool compartment y things, right? I could have done something really cool with that. I could have repurposed it into some kind of storage unit, because, again, it had these neat little compartment y things. I could have made it like a decorative fixture, right? I could have put some kind of, like, plastic acrylic thing across the top and made it almost like a coffee bar.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:41]:
I coulda, woulda, shoulda Kathi done a lot of things with it if it meant that much to me. But just telling you all the things I could have done with it makes this, like, anxiety bubble up in my chest. That makes me so grateful that I posted on Facebook free, but you gotta pick it up.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:59]:
Yes. And which, by the way, yes. We had somebody deliver just our. Our fireplace, and it about killed the two guys who were doing it. And your stove was so much bigger. So, like, I can’t even imagine. Yeah. So it did not align with your lifestyle.

Tonya Kubo [00:04:20]:
It didn’t.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:21]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:21]:
But if it did, let’s just say I really was attached to it. Right? Like, I was the person who drove three states over to bring that into my house.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:28]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:29]:
Then you know what I could have done? Like, I could have taken a picture of it, and now with AI, I could have uploaded that and had some warhol style, like, portrait made of it that I could have framed and put in my house.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:43]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:43]:
There are ways to preserve the memory, the good feelings, without having to keep the thing if the thing is no longer practical for you.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:55]:
Yes. It’s so true. And, you know, I appreciate, like, we had a relative who put together a book of my mom’s family history, and I’m doing some genealogical research right now. And I’m so grateful, one, that I don’t have to keep all those pictures, and two, they’re available on ancestry.com. And, oh, my gosh. I mean, what a gift, right? So what are some other ways to. Okay, so AI could have taken a picture, some other ways that we could preserve things like that. You know, my dad’s paycheck is schlacked to a piece of wood, and it’s cute, and I love it, but I love the idea of taking pictures of things and putting that up in your house.

Kathi Lipp [00:05:46]:
I think that that’s a great way of doing it. I think one thing not to do is to say my kids have to take it. Cause I don’t want it, but my kids have to take it.

Tonya Kubo [00:05:59]:
Well, I think you can’t. Yeah. You can’t make anybody take it is my point. Because we see that with kids. We see that with siblings, right? I see that a lot in clutter free academy. Right? Like, I am the only one of my siblings who has a garage, who lives on property, and therefore, my siblings have all decided, I have to take this. And it’s like, you don’t have to have to do anything, actually.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:23]:
Right, right. No, I mean, we just had a discussion with Roger’s brother, who. He’s the oldest. He lived closest to everybody, and all the photos ended up with him. And he was feeling such tremendous guilt, and he said, I’m sorry, I have to give these to the other brother. We live on the other side of the country, and it’s like, no, there should be no guilt involved in this. You know, it’s. We can only do what we can do.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:51]:
And if it starts to weigh down your life, I’m hoping that your parent, your relative, your grandparent, that’s not the legacy they wanted to leave for you. Okay, so you’ve answered no to all these things. Like, no, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. No, it’s not super sentimental, but I think my mom would be really upset if she found out I threw away this cookbook or. How do you get past that feeling?

Tonya Kubo [00:07:25]:
Well, that’s. I mean, that’s really hard, right?

Kathi Lipp [00:07:29]:

Tonya Kubo [00:07:30]:
Because. Well, you know. Cause first of all, it’s like, okay, so is mom alive or dead? Because people. I mean, and I’ve even been that way. Right? Like, I held onto a lot of stuff after my mom died because my mom would have a fit if I got rid of it. And, you know, there was a point where I was like, okay, how long am I gonna make decisions based on fear of my mother’s ghost haunting me? Right? And, I mean, I can laugh about that now because I’m talking about my relationship with my mom.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:57]:

Tonya Kubo [00:07:57]:
I would never laugh somebody else. But no, you know, if it’s no. All the way down and your concern is what other people will, think what you’re really saying is you’ve got a boundary problem. Right. And we’ve talked frequently in past episodes about how clutter is a boundary issue. But there’s a lot of, you know, boundary issues that we have in our relationships that manifest through stuff. And, like, all I can say is, I can acknowledge that it’s hard. I can also acknowledge that it’s not helpful for me to be like, we’ll just get rid of it.

Tonya Kubo [00:08:34]:
Right? I mean, your emotional connection with somebody is your emotional connection. But I do think there is a way of working through that. And part of that, I think, Kathi, is you have to separate the act of decluttering sometimes from the emotional thought. Work around the decluttering.

Kathi Lipp [00:08:55]:
Hey, Tonya. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to talk to our sponsors, and then we will come right back. Okay? We are back continuing our conversation with Tonya Kubo about sentimental and emotional items.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:10]:
When you’re holding the item in your hand, there’s a lot going on.

Kathi Lipp [00:09:15]:
Mm hmm.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:16]:
Right. Internally in your head. It’s exhausting. Sometimes what you have to do is you have to put that item down and come back to it another day. Or rather than coming back to it, just put that item down for now. Set a notification. I’m a big fan of 30 days from now. I’ll make that decision, but then actually schedule some time.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:35]:
Sit down, journal it, think through it, but, like, think through all the questions, and then, like, okay, so, like, if. If my mom were to find out that I got rid of this, and, like, would she actually say something? If we’re talking about my mother? Yes. Yes, my mother would have. Okay, if she said something like, what’s the best case scenario? What’s the worst case scenario? Like, walking through that. Because all those emotions are going to bubble up just as you’re thinking about these eventual cases. But you don’t need to also be holding the item in order to be working through that. That just adds more stress to the whole scenario. So separate yourself from the item.

Tonya Kubo [00:10:15]:
Go through the questions. Really think through, like, what’s the worst case scenarios? How bad can it be? Scale of one to four. How much can I tolerate these potential outcomes? And then once you make that decision, I’m going to give you a very unpopular opinion. Popular opinion would say, once you make the decision, go take care of it right now. I say, once you make the decision, close your notebook, whatever it is, take a deep breath, go reward yourself because you just did some hard, stinking work and come back to handling the item when you already scheduled yourself to handle the item, but you’ve done the hard work of the thinking?

Kathi Lipp [00:10:54]:
Yes. Okay. Yeah, I love that. It’s to process the emotion. And I think the thing I have to remind myself is my loved one is not in this item. I have a couple of things that, when I look at them, they make me happy, and we should only keep things around that make us happy when we look at them. And that another thing that I’ve had to do, a couple of, like, hard things I’ve had to do, is tell my kids, hey, you’ve got stuff here. If it’s sentimental to you, I need you to pick it up by this date.

Kathi Lipp [00:11:44]:
And if you can’t, if you choose not to, I’m okay getting rid of it. And that may seem really, really harsh, but it’s just not. If I can’t, I can’t be a caretaker for somebody else’s memories. Like, these things. These items mean nothing to me. And so we. That, and we had Jeremy at our house at 1145 one night going through stuff, and he picked out what he wanted, and he said, you can get rid of the rest. And that’s.

Kathi Lipp [00:12:17]:
That’s all we needed. The other thing that I’ve done before is saying, here is this item, extended family. If nobody wants it, I’m going to get rid of it by June 1. And because somehow, sometimes we are held by emotional blackmail by other members of our family, it’s not important enough for me to take, but you should keep it. And that is gaslighting. That is gaslighting in its finest form, to say you’re a bad person if you don’t do what I also refuse to do, and it’s just not true. If you can curate the things that are important to you, and only you can decide what’s important to you, don’t let other people decide what should be important to you, what feelings should be attached to things. It’s emotional blackmail, and we don’t do that around here.

Kathi Lipp [00:13:19]:
If we’re getting rid of clutter, we’re also getting rid of useless feelings.

Tonya Kubo [00:13:23]:

Kathi Lipp [00:13:24]:
And so to put a date on something and say, you know, and this happened with my mother in law’s stuff, my brother in law sent messages to Rogers and his stepfather’s family and said, hey, we’ve got this item. Does anybody want it? He didn’t hear back from anybody. And so three months later, he got rid of it. A year and a half later, somebody said, oh, I’d actually like that. He’s like, it’s gone. It’s gone. And here’s the thing. If it was really important, there’s a phrase going around, at least on TikTok.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:02]:
If he wanted to, he would. And what that means is, if they wanted that item, they would have acted on it. If they were. We can’t be healthy for other people, and so we have to have our own boundaries. And my brother in law felt guilty at first that he got rid of this item. I’m like, you gave them every chance in the world.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:25]:

Kathi Lipp [00:14:25]:
No, no, no. Yeah. We’re done. We live. We are deciding on our own health. Okay, Tonya, anything that you think we have not said that should be said on this subject?

Tonya Kubo [00:14:39]:
Yeah, I think so. I’m just gonna say three more things. Thing one, okay. Is. And this is the hardest part. So what I will say is, give yourself grace. You want to be as honest and objective as possible when you go through the decision tree. Okay.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:57]:
It’s hard. It’s going to feel hard. That’s okay. But, you know, be as honest as you can be. The other thing I will say is take breaks, which I already kind of talked about. Separating yourself from the item sometimes really is beneficial. And then this is the big one that I don’t feel like people like. Hear me when I say, but gosh darn it.

Tonya Kubo [00:15:18]:
Celebrate your successes along the way. Okay. Maybe you have a box of 25 things, and you were only able to part with five of the 25. Can we celebrate that rather than talk about how only five things?

Kathi Lipp [00:15:39]:
Yes, Tonya? I think as we heal, as we do the work, these items come in layers, and sometimes there’s obvious stuff. It’s like, oh, I never have to see this again. It’s fine. And then as we do the work, we become healthier and understand that our relationship is not in these items. We curate the things that were meaningful to us. We are not holding on to things because other people in our life say they should be important to us. And that decluttering that box may come. You may be able to declutter it the first day.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:24]:
It may take you years, and it’s okay. I will tell you this. When I finally take things out of the box and I get rid of six things, and then there’s this one thing. I’m like, you know what? I want that displayed in my house. I don’t want it to be in a box. I I want it to be someplace where I can see it every day and recall the good memories with this person I love. Or, you know, this animal like it. Part of my grieving and healing with Jake was putting that, you know, going and buying the candle.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:58]:
We do not have enough ritual in the United States of America around the death of loved ones. And I think sometimes creating that ritual, you know, finding the candle, and when somebody loses a pet, I send them candles that I think are going to be about the same size as their animal’s neck so that they can put the collar around it. Because there’s a ritual there that says, we honor this life that was so important to us, and that’s part of our grieving and that’s part of our sentimentality. And when I first looked at that after Jake died, I would cry every single time. And now it just brings a smile. And that’s what we want your house to do, is to bring you joy and to bring you peace as you look around. This was a deep conversation, Tonya, but I think it was a really good one. And I’m really grateful for you being here with me.

Tonya Kubo [00:17:55]:
Well, thank you for having me. This was a really. I hope this one is very helpful to our listeners.

Kathi Lipp [00:18:01]:
I hope so, too. And, friends, you have been here, and we’re so grateful that we can speak to you. You’ve been listening to clutter free academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

618 – Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have a box (or two, or three) filled with sentimental items that you just can’t seem to let go of?

In this episode of Clutter Free Academy, Kathi Lipp, and Tonya Kubo tackle the challenge of decluttering sentimental items. They discuss the various categories of emotional clutter, from childhood memorabilia to inherited items, and share their personal experiences with letting go. Together, they offer a step-by-step decision-making process to help listeners navigate the emotional decluttering journey with confidence and clarity. Listen in as they how to ask questions and set limits on sentimental items in the decluttering process using:

  • Kathi’s “Five Item Rule” for curating sentimental objects, and
  • Tonya’s “Decision Tree” process for making decluttering choices

Click here to be notified when part 2 of this series, where Kathi and Tonya will dive even deeper into the art of curating and displaying sentimental items in a meaningful way, goes LIVE.

Also, stay up to date and sign up here to receive our newsletter.


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and access a copy of the Decision Tree for Letting Go of Emotional Items Kathi mentions in this episode.

Clutter Free Resources:

How do you personally navigate the emotional challenges of letting go?

Share in the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi Lipp [00:00:08]:
Well, hey, friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And today, I am back with my favorite clutter free co conspirator. It is Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo [00:00:26]:
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:00:28]:
Uh, I I’m excited about today’s podcast, and also, I don’t know, I feel prejudged. Let me just put it that way. I already feel like this is where I’m failing. This is. You know, I think we all have different areas of clutter that we struggle with. And weirdly, I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t have a lot of, like, things from my kids childhood, things like that. But when there is something and I struggle to get rid of it.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:05]:
And I know that when we were doing our interviews with members of our paid group clutter free for life, you found that the majority of people are just like me. We’re all just like each other, that we struggle. So I would love to hear from you what people’s struggles were with these emotional and sentimental items and kind of the things that. That brought up for people.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:31]:
Yeah, well, so the struggles are. I mean, they’re varied, right? Just because we all have the same. The same core challenge, how it. The symptoms of that challenge are not always similar. So the sentimental items, something we’ve talked about a lot, right, are just like the ghosts of our past lives. So that’s the childhood memorabilia, whether it’s our own childhood stuff or our children’s stuff from when they were babies and such. There is the stuff that we have inherited. Right?

Kathi Lipp [00:02:06]:
So the.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:07]:
The ghost of past lives is both like childhood, but it’s college, it’s former professions. It’s the empty nester who used to homeschool, but they don’t want to let go of the homeschool curriculum because maybe their grandchildren could use it.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:19]:
What is it about homeschool curriculum?

Tonya Kubo [00:02:23]:
It’s expensive. That’s what it is. Kathi, as a former homeschooling mom.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:29]:

Tonya Kubo [00:02:29]:
You know.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:30]:
Yep, you’re right.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:31]:
When I was homeschooling, we had, you know, in our state, we had a thing called public charter schools that would help offset some of the expenses. But if you were homeschooling in the eighties and nineties, you were on your own, and.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:46]:
Yeah, no, that’s true. Right.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:50]:
So there’s that.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:50]:
So that’s true. I remember that. Yeah. Because we, you and I have both dipped our toe into homeschooling. And even though I bought a lot of curriculum used. It was not cheap.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:02]:
No, no. I mean, I remember there was one curriculum that was touted as the best for working families, and it was like $2,000 a year.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:12]:
So you just think, holy cow, right?

Tonya Kubo [00:03:16]:
If that’s you, Kathi, wouldn’t you want to save that just in case the off chance is that, a, you had grandchildren and, b, those grandchildren would be homeschooled maybe one day, kind of.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:28]:
I would want to save it in case I got pregnant at 56, like.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:32]:
Yeah, exactly.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:34]:
And, Tonya, I have to tell you, I was talking with our friend Sherry Gregory recently, and I remember one of the things she had the hardest time decluttering was one of these programs that you got in the box. And, like, here was lesson number 42, and here’s lesson number 78. And I saw somebody post about that and say it was Pokemon for stay at home moms. Gotta catch them all. And just about died when I heard that. And I finally realized I was never going to get lesson number 37. Like, they were never going to put that out. They were just going to add more and add more because I kept buying.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:18]:
Yeah. It is such a pit of despair. Okay, so.

Tonya Kubo [00:04:23]:
So back to the point, right? So past lives, and then there’s the inherited stuff, which I think you see a lot more, you know, but we’ve seen that from the beginning with clutter Frey Academy, that inherited stuff is really tough.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:40]:
It’s really, really tough. And I think, yeah, past lives and future lives. Like, I bet someday, you know, like, I’m gonna keep my wedding dress because I bet my daughter’s gonna want to wear this. No, probably not. Unless your daughter has said, oh, I want to wear that, it’s probably not gonna happen. Right? Yeah. So I understand that there is a lot of angst around this, and so how do we get rid of this stuff? And I think one of the things, we know the challenges, but I have had to approach it with a very systematic approach to take some of the angst out of it. I am not.

Kathi Lipp [00:05:29]:
I lose all logical thought when it comes to some of these things. And I give myself one box for each kid where I don’t have to explain why I’m keeping it. It’s just. But I can’t keep ten boxes for each kid. I keep these boxes because right now the kids don’t want the stuff. And these are small boxes. We’re not talking huge things. But, like, my son, he’s not in his forever house.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:02]:
He lives with a bunch of roommates. And I have a ring from my grandfather. That he wants. He goes, but I don’t feel like I’m in a good position to hang on to. I’m like, I can hang on to it. And I’m also hanging on to his boo bonkie because I think everybody has a version of Boo Bonkie, which is his blue blanket that he couldn’t live without. And I don’t know that he ever cares about it. But, like, about once every couple of years, I go into that box and I’m like, oh, blue blankie.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:32]:
So you came up with some ideas about a decision tree, and I love this. It’s kind of an emotional sorting system for making these decisions. Right. So I’m going to take. And let’s talk about. We’re not going to talk about Boo Boinke, but we’re going to talk about. I’ve got an item right here, and I’ll take a picture of it to show everybody. My dad, his first paycheck at the library when, you know, he.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:07]:
I think he was probably 17 at the time. And my son’s been a librarian. Well, he’s worked at a library. He hasn’t been a librarian. That’s a very specific role.

Tonya Kubo [00:07:17]:
That’s a master’s degree right there.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:18]:
Yeah, exactly. Um, and we used to call him the guy Brarian. But we’re going to take this paycheck that I have sitting behind me that’s laminated and everything like that on a piece of wood. And I’m going to take it through. I want to take it through the decision tree process. So, um, let’s start with my dad’s paycheck. And you know what? We’re going to do that right after we take a quick break. We’re going to take a quick break.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:43]:
We’re going to listen to some sponsors who keep this podcast free, and then we’ll come right back. Okay, guys, I am back with Tonya Kubo, and we’re doing the emotional, sentimental item decision tree. So what is the first question that I am going to ask myself, Tonya?

Tonya Kubo [00:08:03]:
So for me, it is, how do I feel? Like when I’m holding this and I’m just holding something random because nobody listening can actually see what I’m holding. But when I hold this, what are the emotions that instantly bubble up? Am I feeling angst? Am I feeling hurt? Am I feeling happiness? Am I feeling joy? Like, that’s the first thing that I think needs to happen. You got to label that emotion. So how are you feeling about that paycheck, Kathi?

Kathi Lipp [00:08:34]:
It makes me happy. It just. It. You know, I’ll be honest. My dad and I didn’t have a super close relationship. He was definitely on the spectrum. Hard for him to connect engineer. But this makes me feel connected to him.

Tonya Kubo [00:08:52]:
Okay, so it makes you feel connected because that’s the. You know, the second question I would ask is, you know, why do you feel happy? So it makes you feel connected to him. He’s not here anymore. So the next question, like, absolutely doesn’t apply to this item, but it’s. But it will apply to some of our listeners items that they are evaluating, which is, you know, what is the frequency in which you use it? Like, how often are you using it?

Kathi Lipp [00:09:18]:

Tonya Kubo [00:09:19]:
And I’m gonna say, what’s the practicality of using it?

Kathi Lipp [00:09:23]:
Zero practicality, but it is displayed. So I feel like that’s a use. That’s. That’s a form of use for me, that it’s not just on a shelf that I’ve ignored. It’s like, no, it’s in a place that when I see it, it makes me happy.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:41]:
Well, what I would add for consideration, because that’s the other thing we know, is our listeners are great rule followers, but this decision tree is a wonderful framework for evaluating whether to keep or not keep your sentimental item. But there’s nuance to it. So, in this case, you’re not using it, but it’s displayed. It’s not taking up a ton of space. It’s a first paycheck.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:07]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:08]:

Kathi Lipp [00:10:08]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:09]:
We’re not talking about a china hut chair.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:11]:
Yes, exactly.

Tonya Kubo [00:10:13]:
So I think that’s important to point out, too, we might feel a little differently if we’re talking about this gigantic china hutch that goes floor to ceiling.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:21]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:21]:
But next, whether it’s a china hutch or it’s your dad’s first paycheck, the next question is, what’s the sentimental value associated with. Of that item? Is it because it’s attached to irreplaceable memories? Is it attached to an irreplaceable association?

Kathi Lipp [00:10:40]:
Yeah. Well, I have not kept a lot of my dad’s stuff because, you know, honestly, it wasn’t his. His rock collection. There were other people who were more connected to that. His cameras, other people more connected to that. But this one, I have very few things of his because I. I remember my dad, and I remember him with love and fondness. So I don’t need a lot of stuff around.

Kathi Lipp [00:11:09]:
But this paycheck, it’s not that it’s associated with a particular memory, but it’s associated with goodness. In my dad.

Tonya Kubo [00:11:18]:
Right. And for most of our folks who are evaluating sentimental stuff, they’re probably not looking at something that’s already displayed. They’re probably going through boxes in their garage, in a spare room, in a drawer. So what I would say if they had the same answer, though, right? Like, it’s associated with good memories. I feel good about this. I have very few things that have similar associations. Then I would say, okay, so let’s think of ways that you can preserve the memory if that item is not practical in your home. If the item is practical, then let’s talk about clever ways of displaying it.

Tonya Kubo [00:11:56]:
Like, how do we make it part of the actual intentional design of your home? And if the answer is no, like, it does not have any, you know, irreplaceable memories or associations, you know, it’s one of 22 of a similar item, then, you know, it’s. It’s time to make the hard, that hard decision about, do I really need to keep this? Do I need to keep this now?

Kathi Lipp [00:12:22]:
Yeah. So this is not part of the decision tree, but what I. A kind of rule that I’ve made for myself. Not a rule, a guideline is for somebody who is close to me. I. I can keep up to five of their items. So, you know, and obviously, if something happened to Roger, that would be blown out the water. But, you know, I’ve lost my dad in the past ten years.

Kathi Lipp [00:12:51]:
A year ago, I lost you and I lost our good friend Jen. And I have a couple of items around here that remind me of her. She sent me one time a towel that says fold in the cheese, which is from Schitt’s Creek. And it’s a little joke. And so I have a couple, but, you know, and that was a significant loss in my life. But five items is enough for anybody in my life. And I have people in my life that are very precious to me, but I haven’t lost them. And so things of my kids, that kind of things.

Kathi Lipp [00:13:32]:
Five is a good guideline for me. It doesn’t feel overstuffed, it doesn’t feel crazy, and it forces me to make decisions. So everybody has to have their own number, right?

Tonya Kubo [00:13:44]:
And what I was going to say is, I want to speak to the person right now who is like, five is not enough. Damn. I get five does not sound like very many. And, you know, you already said it’s an arbitrary number. It’s a number that works for you. It may not be the number that works for me. Maybe I need four, maybe I need eight. But the reason five is a good benchmark number is because we don’t just have one special person in our life.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:12]:

Kathi Lipp [00:14:12]:

Tonya Kubo [00:14:13]:
So you think about it. If you’re keeping five items from mom, five items from dad, five items from mom in law and dad in law, now we’ve got 20 different items that we’re having to find space for. So that’s why.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:28]:
And Tonya, let’s talk about our dog, too. Like, we’ve got all these grand. And then. Yeah. And then the things from your dog, like, it can get out of control.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:37]:
Right. So for some people, I just want to clarify that because I think for some people, they’re thinking like, five is so many because they have, you know, I don’t know, six sets of parents because of in laws and steps and all of that. And other people who might be an only child of only children is like, no, I need 20 because that just.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:56]:
Gives me 40 items. Right. So I think it’s good to have a number because then you say, am I keeping this just because I love the person, or am I keeping this because there’s significance to this item in that person?

Tonya Kubo [00:15:13]:
Right. Well, and you know me, like my latest thing that I’m all about, and I talk about this in Clutterfree Academy, and I’m talking about in clutter free for life, which is our private membership program, is I’m all about the freedom of constraints. It doesn’t matter what the number is when you set a limit, it’s clarifying because it either takes the place of one of the five items or it doesn’t.

Kathi Lipp [00:15:37]:
Right. Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, I think about the, I’ve done the, the five for our dog Jake, and one way I keep his sentimental, you know, I do this for some of our pets, is I have a picture in the house. So for pets, it’s the. The number is three. And so I keep their collar around a candle. So it’s around a can, a glass candle.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:07]:
And so I have that collar. I have a picture, and then I have an item that was important to them and that feels like enough. And by having more items, it doesn’t prove that I love Jake more. There’s no way I could have loved Jake more. But these are the things that are comforting to me. Tonya, this has been such a rich conversation, but we’re not even close to being done. Can I have you come back next week and we’re going to talk about how do you curate the emotional and sentimental items in your life? Are you willing to come back?

Tonya Kubo [00:16:40]:
Definitely. I would love to thank you, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:42]:
Okay, friends, you’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#617 Making Your House Work For You

#617 Making Your House Work For You

617 – Making Your House Work For You

Kathi sits down with Tenneil Register to explore practical ways to make your home work for you, not the other way around. In this episode, they discuss: 

  • Designing spaces around your natural habits and routines
  • Examples of functional home solutions (such as paperwork organization)
  • Why entryway, kitchen, and bedroom spaces are key areas in your home
  • The power of taking photos to evaluate your spaces with fresh eyes

Kathi and Tenneil will be sharing their 3 challenges spaces (Entry, Eat, Rest) pictures! Take the challenge and you can post your pics over at Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy group. We have the most amazing corner of friends who cheer each other on!

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released, or here to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit!

Kathi’s shoes that guests love and it keeps her home clean at the same time.

Here’s a peek at Kathi’s kitchen now — head over to Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy group to find out what changes she would like to make (to love and use the space even more!)


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Favorite Links:

A House That Cleans Itself

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Clutter Free Resources:

What key areas in your house would you like to focus on? Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

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Meet Our Guest 


Tenneil Register

Tenneil Register can be found creating, repurposing, decorating, gardening and welcoming guests to their reclaimed barn storefront. She and her husband, Cowboy, established rural roots for their blended family of 7 in their DIY ranch home in Iowa. Connect with her on Instagram for practical ideas to reclaim your home or visit R7Reclaimed.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:00)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, one of our newer members of our team, but she’s got all the style, my friends. And she is, I love how she’s stylish and practical at the same time. You guys, it’s Tenille Register. Tenille, welcome back to the podcast.

Tenneil (00:27)
Thank you, I’m so happy to be here. And I love that you say stylish and practical because that is my goal. Yes, yeah, you nailed it.

Kathi (00:34)
That’s your intersection, huh? That makes me super happy, because that’s really, when we have these discussions, that’s really what comes through. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today, because I think it’s so interesting. Something you said, and I don’t know if I’m quoting you correctly, you can always say, no, Kathy, that’s not what I said. Let me tell you the right way to say it. But we just had the Abundant Home Conference.

which is a conference about, it’s for our clutter-free community, but it is, we did a lot of like clutter-free adjacent things. So we had Tanya talking about hoarding and we had Roger talking about beginning gardening and we had you talking about design in your home and function. And you said, I don’t work for my, this is what I remember, but again, please correct me.

I don’t work for my house, my house works for me. Did I just get the spirit of what you said or is that actually what you said?

Tenneil (01:42)
I don’t know for sure. I think, I bet it’s what I said. Here’s what I can tell you about the heart of that, Kathy, is I can vividly remember, I mean, I was probably 20 years old, I bet. I’ve always been one to buy houses, flip them, fix them up. Homes are important to me. And I remember standing in line at the Christian bookstore and they have $5 books that you can add onto your purchase. And one of these books is called A House That Cleans Itself.

Kathi (01:43)
Okay! Okay.

Okay, please.


Oh, I remember that! Yes, it was by Harvest House, yes!

Tenneil (02:15)
And I remember laughing and handing it to the cashier and saying, I’ll take a house that cleans itself for $5, sure. And that is what really framed from my very earliest days when I was really too young to even own a home for goodness sake, like my mindset about my house that I wanted it to work for me. So.

Kathi (02:22)
Yes, yes



Tenneil (02:41)
Yeah, that’s where the spirit of it comes from.

Kathi (02:42)
Okay, so here’s a question. Do you remember something that you started doing differently because of that book?

Tenneil (02:50)
So the main takeaway from that book was I started taking snapshots of a space and thinking about what I really was using that space for.

Kathi (03:01)
Oh, interesting. Wow, and that book was before digital, I mean, at least camera phones, I would think.

Tenneil (03:09)
It was 100% like I had to develop the film from it. Okay. Right.

Kathi (03:13)
Oh my gosh, that’s a commitment, right? You had to go to the Walgreens and get those photos developed. That’s impressive. Okay, so what did you learn from taking pictures inside your house? This is fascinating to me.

Tenneil (03:21)

Yeah, so you see your habits, right? Because this isn’t, I clean the room and then I take a picture of it. This is, you know, after three long work days, I take a picture of the entryway or I take a picture of the kitchen countertop. That’s when you start to discover, I opened the mail next to the kitchen sink, right? I leave my coffee cup near the front door regularly, right?

Kathi (03:34)


Ah, okay.

Right, right.

Tenneil (03:57)
where it might make more sense to have the mail by the front door and the coffee by the kitchen sink. But whatever your habit is, is your habit. And rather than trying to retrain yourself, you rework your space.

Kathi (04:02)


Okay, so this is really interesting to me because you talk a lot about this. You’re not trying to change the people in your house. You’re trying to change the environment.

Tenneil (04:22)
Yes, like I think it’s an act of love where we accept the behaviors of ourself and those around us, and we find solutions that work for our natural behaviors.

Kathi (04:29)

Okay, so tell me some things where you’ve seen that conflict between personal habits and home organization and what did you do because also we’re not saying kids leave your stuff everywhere. I don’t care if you eat, you know, in your bedroom and leave the dishes. I mean, that’s not what we’re saying, right? If that’s what we’re saying, I have to, we have to end the conversation now.

Tenneil (05:01)
Absolutely, it’s not what we’re saying. And in case my youngest who’s still at home is listening, it will never be okay for you to leave your empty dishes next to the couch. That’s a hot button. However, on the issue of snacks, one of the difficulties is our family room is on the lower level, our kitchen is on the upper level, the main level. And then you have this parade of snacks, right? Up and down, up and down. So…

Kathi (05:09)
Good good to know okay, okay?


Okay. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Right. Mm-hmm.

Tenneil (05:30)
when we had the time, the energy, the budget, we put in a snack bar just off of the family room.

Kathi (05:37)
Ah, so tell me about this snack bar. I’m gonna need a picture of this too.

Tenneil (05:43)
Okay, so it’s just got a kitchen sink and a microwave and in clear containers we have the cereal bars, the pop tarts, the popcorn, the things that you eat snacky that kind of make a mess, that don’t require like kitchen prep, and then it’s there for the easy taking and because they’re in clear containers I can kind of restock them and it’s on open shelving.

Kathi (05:47)




Tenneil (06:09)
So it helps me with the grocery shopping part of it and it helps them with, I’m not like getting out all of these boxes of things. I just select my snack. There’s a garbage can nearby. And it was almost like a trade-off. If I make it easy for you to get snacks, will you make it easy to clean up your snacks?

Kathi (06:17)

Right. You know, we did something very similar because we have retreats here in our house and Roger didn’t always want to be, you know, going down at 530 in the morning, you know, when women were downstairs and stuff like that. So up in our bedroom, actually in my office, we’ve put a coffee maker, some snacks and a microwave. And we don’t have a sink really, but we’re not doing heavy prep up here and

Tenneil (06:49)

Kathi (06:54)
It is, and oh, and the other thing, the most important thing that we put up here was a little fridge. And so one, it has helped us drink more water because we’ve got cold water all the time. And it’s made such a difference in our lives to be drinking all of this water all the time. But I also have like my crystal light packets up here. And so it’s just made it so, yeah, there are less dishes coming upstairs. There’s a less.

Tenneil (07:01)

Kathi (07:22)
There’s less everything. Because we think it’s just the kids, but then all the kids move out and you’re like, oh, it wasn’t just the kids. Darn.

Tenneil (07:29)
That’s my third coffee cup next to the nightstand.

Kathi (07:32)
Yes, it’s so true, right? Okay, so you and I have both made these adjustments in our house that say, okay, we recognize the behavior. We are not the people on TV who just eat at the kitchen table. In our house, we do very little eating at the kitchen table. I’m not gonna lie. Because that’s not what we wanna do, and we’re adults. We get to do what we want.

So what are some other adjustments that you have made that have made a big difference?

Tenneil (08:04)
think a lot of people are going to relate to this. We have an island and our entire life happens at the island. That’s where people eat, that’s where we fix food, that’s where we come and go and drop our keys and our sunglasses, and it’s also where all of the paperwork lands. So we have an office but we were never going to carry this paperwork from the island back to the office, file it, and then come back and finish our conversation. That wasn’t going to happen.

Kathi (08:10)
Mm-hmm. Yes. Right. Yeah.

It’s so true, right?




Tenneil (08:33)
And so a wall just adjacent to the island, we put clipboards on a nail for each person. And then that makes it very simple. Whatever the paper, whichever person the paperwork coordinates with, and we have one for pets too, I can just slap that paper on the clipboard.

Kathi (08:40)
Mm. Yeah.

Mm-hmm. Oh, nice. Oh, that’s really interesting. Okay, we wanna hear more of these ideas and of course we’re gonna need pictures. We’re gonna have to take a quick break and then we’re gonna come right back and we’re gonna get all the scoop from Tenille Register. We’ll be right back. Okay, friends, we are back with Tenille Register and we’re talking about how do you make your house work for you instead of you working for your house? I’m gonna ping pong back. I’m gonna tell you something that

I have done and that is I have invested in a really good floor mats. Like the door mats, like outside, we have door mats outside our house and inside our house in all the main doors. So you have ample room to get your shoes cleared off and where we live between the dirt, the garden,

The chickens you really want to have those Dormats there and the other thing we’ve done is we have indoor outdoor shoes by every exit and that has made a huge difference in our house and the other thing we’ve done which I will be happy to post a picture about is we have a rack of Probably I don’t know maybe 15 different pairs of slippers

in different sizes that get washed every time somebody wears them. But it keeps our floors so much cleaner. And people love these slippers, by the way. They they just adore them. And it’s really, really helped. So I will be sure to share a picture of that as well. Tenneil, what’s another example of you don’t work for your house. Your house works for you.

Tenneil (10:42)
So another example would be how we use our personal spaces. So in each bedroom, thinking about how do we get alone? This is a lot of people in a house. And so what are some things that you need, like your reading zone or your art zone if you’re into art or your gaming station? And I feel like when we invest in

Kathi (10:49)

Mm-hmm. Yes, yes.


Tenneil (11:12)
the person’s going to enjoy that personal space, then we free up more of our common space.

Kathi (11:15)

Mmm, okay, okay. Yes, yes. So give me an example of something you’ve done.

Tenneil (11:28)
Okay, so an example would be a daughter who is really into music. And we have a piano and so all of that music stuff could end up in this music space. But I didn’t want all that stuff there, right? So what do you do? You get a music stand for the bedroom. You put a shelf on the wall for the instruments.

Kathi (11:37)



Tenneil (11:55)
We have great hooks for guitar hangers for the guitars in the house. So that all of these things that could land on the floor that are super important to someone, right? You’re saying like, I love that you love music and I love that you want these instruments so much that here’s the space where you can hang it and use it and love it.

Kathi (11:58)

Right, right.

Yes, I think that’s really important too, because what you’re doing is you’re saying, I’m committing this space to you because I honor your passion and what you do. I have learned not to honor the passion until I see that it’s a long-lasting passion because I can’t tell you the number of things we invested in because it was good for the kids and ended up on, you know, Facebook free groups.

Tenneil (12:32)

Kathi (12:44)
And so, yes, but I think you’re absolutely right. We did kind of the opposite thing when we first blended our family in that we took half our living room and put an L-shaped desk there, and we got each of the kids a computer. Because we wanted them to be using their computer in a common space. And this was before all the smartphones and things like that.

But everybody got their own chair. So we invested well and heavily. So it wasn’t happening like on the couch or in the dining room or something like that. They all had this space. And we could see what they were doing and it was good for them, yes.

Tenneil (13:23)

I love the intentionality of both. What do we want for common space activities? What do we want for personal space activities?

Kathi (13:29)

Yes, it looked like we were running a call center. I’m not going to lie where everybody’s on their headphones and at their monitors. But, you know, at the time, that’s what we wanted to have for our family. So if somebody is struggling with no, I’m a slave to my home. That’s how I feel. I feel like I work from my home all the time. Where would you ask them to start investigating what they could change?

Tenneil (14:00)
So I would start with the pictures of where you walk into the house, a picture of wherever it is you eat, and a picture of wherever it is you try to rest.

Kathi (14:03)

So entryway, rest, and eat. Okay, why would you start in those places?

Tenneil (14:15)

Because I think those are the things we spend the most time doing at home. And they’re all transitional.

Kathi (14:24)

What do you mean by transitional?

Tenneil (14:29)
At the entryway, we’re in and out, out and in and out, and we’re taking things with us. Where we eat, that’s something we do multiple times a day that requires things to go with it.

Kathi (14:35)

Yeah. Got it, okay.

Tenneil (14:44)
And then similar with the personal space, you’re getting ready routine. And so it’s really about recognizing what are the routines that I want to support from this space because we’re really not talking about stuff, we’re talking about living. And this.

Kathi (14:54)

Yeah, it’s so true. And recognizing, I think it’s so important, recognizing change in your house or change in yourself. Like, this is the first time in my life I’ve had long hair and that comes with a lot of ties and bands and scrunch, all the things and more hair product than I’ve ever used in my entire life. And for the longest time, I’m like, why is this bathroom no longer working for me?

Well, because things have changed. I now have long, I never had hair accoutrement before. I just never did. But now I do. And it’s like, okay, recognize that and set it up so that it’s actually easy to use. It’s so true, it’s so true. And to say, you know, but also to recognize when I’m over something.

Tenneil (15:42)
Right? You need a little dish for all those hair bands and clippies, don’t you?

Kathi (15:52)
Like, I’ll just be honest with you, right now guys, I am not cooking sourdough bread, I’m not baking it. There’s just not room in my life at the moment. Let me just put it this way, I haven’t made it a priority. So I’m not spending a lot of time doing that. So it’s okay for me to put all that stuff away. I don’t need it out. I can reevaluate my space and say, you know, we don’t eat like this anymore. Or we don’t eat like this now. That may be even a better phrase.

you know, if you have a whole bunch of like, cake mix, and you’re like, well, we just found that I’m gluten free, get rid of it, you know, give it to somebody who’s actually going to use it, not save it for the time where you’re magically ungluten free, you know, or whatever, what is the transition you need to recognize in your

Tenneil (16:41)
Yeah, and I think that’s where the like assessment comes in, right? Whether you’re visually taking a picture with your eyes, whether you’re journaling about the space, or you’re taking an actual photo, it’s sort of this assessment of how am I living in this space and what would I like to do differently.

Kathi (16:44)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Yeah, I love the assessment because I think we can become clutter blind sometimes. I know I can. To walking into a space and it’s like, I’m not really looking at it. You know, it looks okay. But, and I’m not saying to be harsh or judgmental. But, you know, I’m just noticing like right now, I’ve got a giant extension cord in my office. I’m thinking, how long has that been there? What?

What did I use that for? You know, and it’s like, okay, well, I probably used it for when I was filming something, but that could go away now. And taking a picture would be like, oh yeah, I could get rid of that, and it would make it feel better when I entered the space. So I love the idea of taking those three pictures. I think I’m gonna go do that. I’m a little scared to post them though, I’m not gonna lie. Okay. Okay, I’m gonna post the three picture. Yeah, okay.

Tenneil (17:49)
Oh, we want to see them.

Cause wouldn’t that be such a fun challenge, Kathy? If you post a picture of the space and you list five things you can get rid of, donate, put away, whatever, right? Like such a five minute exercise.

Kathi (17:58)


Okay. Post the entryway, where you eat, and where you get ready or where you sleep. Okay.

Tenneil (18:15)
Yeah, like your personal space, you know, some people that’s in their bedroom, some people that’s in their bathroom.

Kathi (18:21)
Okay, okay, I’m gonna do it Okay, two of those three spaces don’t look too bad right now We won’t talk about the other one. Okay. Yay Okay, here’s the problem guys I know it we are recording this in the middle of March and I’ve got I still have my nativity up because I really like It and it’s just weird that in the middle of March. I still But you know what it’s fine, it’s fine. It’s

Tenneil (18:49)
You love Jesus a lot, Kathy.

Kathi (18:51)
I love Jesus a lot. I love baby Jesus even more. Oh, Tenille, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Tenneil (19:02)
Oh, thanks for having me and enjoy assessing your spaces.

Kathi (19:07)
Yeah, are you gonna take the three pictures as well? I’ve just given you more, you know, I’m like, oh this podcast will just take 20 minutes And now I’ve given you homework. Don’t you love it?

Tenneil (19:10)

100% I’m going to go take pictures of those spaces because I know they are all in disarray right now.

Kathi (19:23)
Okay friends, we’re gonna challenge you to go take those three pictures because I think it’s gonna help you really evaluate What you want to change and what you want to do differently? Okay, you’ve been listening to clutter free Academy I’m Kathy lip now go create the clutter free space you know Okay friends, you’ve been listening to clutter free Academy. I’m Kathy lip now go create the clutter free life. You’ve always wanted to live


#615 Breaking Free from Decorating “Rules”: Creating a Home You Love Part 2

#615 Breaking Free from Decorating “Rules”: Creating a Home You Love Part 2

615 – Breaking Free from Decorating “Rules”: Creating a Home You Love Part 2

Are you struggling with judgmental voices from your past that insist your home décor must be showroom perfect?

Shun the shamers in your head and learn how to break free of their nitpicky demands!

Join Kathi and bestselling author Myquillyn Smith, also known as “The Nester,” as they continue their discussion about Myquillyn’s new book, “House Rules: How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget.” They’ll delve into:

  • Why you don’t have to fill every empty space
  • Using the concepts of “house hushing” and “one sane space” to quiet your quarters
  • Getting past perfectionism to love your space your way

As Kathi says in today’s episode, “if you love your house enough, it doesn’t matter what other people think.” Tune in now to learn how to make this your motto!

Order a copy of Myquillyn Smith’s newest book House Rules here

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released.

Would you like to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit in your inbox? Sign up here.

The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life

When it comes to your home, peace is possible…

Longing for a place of peace from which you can love others well? The Clutter-Free Home is your room-by-room guide to decluttering, reclaiming, and celebrating every space of your home.

Let author Kathi Lipp (who once lived a life buried in clutter) walk you through each room of your house to create organizational zones that are not only functional and practical but create places of peace that reflect your personality. Kathi will help you tackle the four-step process of dedicate, decide, declutter and “do-your-thing” to reveal the home you’ve always dreamed of, and then transform it into a haven that reflects who you truly are meant to be.

If you’re also feeling overwhelmed by the care and upkeep of all the stuff under your feet or sense that your home is running you, instead of the other way around, come discover how to create a space that doesn’t have to be showroom perfect to be perfect for you and the people you love.

Order your copy here!

Favorite Links:

Myquillyn Smith’s website TheNester.com.

Myquillyn Smith on Instagram @thenester

Order Myquillyn’s newest book HOUSE RULES: How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget here

Take Myquillyn’s decorating quiz here

Where is your “one sane space?” Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 

Myquillyn Smith

MYQUILLYN SMITH, also known as “The Nester,” is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Welcome Home and Cozy Minimalist Home. For the past 17 years, she’s been encouraging women to embrace their space—imperfections and all—and make it their own. Her previous homes have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cottages & Bungalows. She recently purchased and redecorated a1905 Queen Anne Victorian home in Morganton, North Carolina, the inspiration for her new book House Rules. She’s never met a home she didn’t love.

Find her online at TheNester.com and on Instagram @thenester.


Kathi (00:00.174)

Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter-Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, I just, yeah, if you heard last week, you know I’m gushing, I’m not gonna gush all this time, but it’s Myquillyn Smith. The book is House Rules. You guys, she is my favorite decorating guru.

And I know you shouldn’t have gurus. You shouldn’t because you gotta create your own style. But she has helped me figure out who I am and how to live in my house. And I want her to do the same for you. Plus, you guys, she gets people who maybe wanna keep too many things in their house. She is not, she’s not judgmental. She understands our people. Myquillyn welcome back to the podcast.

Myquillyn (00:57.51)

I’m so glad to be here. You are my people. I love it.

Kathi (01:01.722)

Yes, yes, we need to we have to have a lot of crossover in our communities. I’m 100% And guys if you haven’t listened to last week go back and listen to that that’ll give you a lot of context for this week But I uh, I may love this book as much as I loved your first book Again, it’s House Rules: How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget And the reason that I love your book so much is because well

This is called House Rules. You don’t have a lot of rules or you teach us how to break the rules that maybe, I don’t know if other people feel like this, that I’ve had some very judgmental voices, house decorating voices in my head from the past and maybe kind of kept myself a little trapped. Have you ever worked with anybody like that?

Myquillyn (01:55.125)

Yeah, I mean, I have myself, I have experienced that as well, thinking I am going to get shamed or I’m gonna get told off or someone comes in my house and says, we need to get those drapes hemmed and when are we going to do this, that and the other to finish the house? That’s the kind of, yeah, I’ve experienced that myself and had to pull up my big girl pants and say, this is it, this is what I’m choosing to do so that I can

Kathi (01:57.62)


Myquillyn (02:24.897)

have the rest of my life be full and look the way I want it to look.

Kathi (02:29.822)

You know, I remember when we sold our last house, it was, I loved it, I loved it so much. But the one thing my husband and I just said, okay, you know what, it’s just not as important to us as it is to other people. And you guys are gonna, everybody’s gonna scream when they hear this. We had popcorn ceilings. And in California, they’re very expensive to get rid of. And it’s like

we had to make choices and people would come in and say, and what are we gonna do about those popcorn ceilings? I’m like, if that’s the first thing you notice in my beautiful home, then, you know, my decorating style is not for you. It just isn’t. And so I think it’s so interesting what some people fixate on when they’re in other people’s homes. And we think, oh, nobody’s gonna notice. And it’s just weird that some people do, isn’t it? That what…

What are we going to do about those drapes on the floor? I mean, we’re going to enjoy them and love them and see that they pool beautifully. Ha ha.

Myquillyn (03:34.362)

Feel free to do something with your own money and your time.

Kathi (03:40.198)

Yes, you have volunteered. Well, okay. So I think that if you love your house enough, it doesn’t matter what other people think. It really, really doesn’t. But you have to love it. You have to say, this is what I’m doing to make my house as loving and lovely as possible. I want to dig into your rules here, because we’ve already done seven and five, you can’t ruin something you already hate and resourcefulness is the ultimate resource. But let’s talk about

Okay, this is for my cluttery girls. Rule 11, luxury isn’t having more, it’s needing less. Talk to, okay, I’m not gonna say a word, just talk to us.

Myquillyn (04:21.693)

Okay, I was reluctant to learn this because all of my life I feel like luxury is having everything at your fingertips, no matter what you could possibly need. That is the very definition of luxury. So we moved into this house and it’s a 1905 Queen Anne Victorian. And I’m pointing out the master bedroom is like the largest master bedroom we’ve ever had. We’ve never had a big bedroom.

And when we moved here, we had a bed and like my nightstands were like this big because our last house, the room was this big. So they’re like, pip squeak. I mean, we had nothing. So our bed was in there. I purchased a little sofa from the previous owner. So I had a little sofa at the end of the bed. I ended up buying a pair of nightstands and I had a couple lamps. I put up drapes. There were shutters on the window.

And one day I walked up to the room, I had painted it a little darker, beautiful muddy blue, one of my personal neutrals. And I walked up to the room and it just felt just right. I couldn’t believe it because there was no gallery wall. There was no like 300 beautiful pillows. There wasn’t three layers of rugs. There wasn’t like layers of throws. It was like so simple. There was no vignette on both of the.

Like I nothing it was so quiet and I felt like rich I felt like I was staying in a high end hotel. It was like the lack of chaos and excess was luxurious. And I have heard that my whole life. But to experience it. I was like, Oh, I get that now I get like the almost the privilege of not having to fill up my space with all of this.

Kathi (05:48.612)


Kathi (06:06.135)


Kathi (06:10.752)


Myquillyn (06:11.677)

just in case stuff was extremely peaceful and serene and welcoming and I love beautiful things I still have you know stuff in my home but that is one space in my house that I probably will continue to keep really sparse and it feels great.

Kathi (06:21.421)


Kathi (06:32.234)

Okay, well, the conviction is here. I have, our bedroom is big. It’s the biggest bedroom we’ve ever owned. And I love our bed. I’ve got a Suzani print couch that is just, it’s everything I love. And then I have the gray chair. And the gray chair collects all the things and has no business being in there. But I had room.

And my cluttery brain says, but you have room for it. But it brings me no joy. Why do I still have it? Why did I need you to come on a podcast for me to say, okay, it’s time to get rid of it?

Myquillyn (07:11.349)

Because our default is that empty space is like incorrect and needs to be filled. Empty space is waiting to be, it’s unfinished, which is not true. We need margin in our lives, in our decor, in our schedule, in so many things, but like I’ve learned to, sometimes I can’t get it through my brain. Like actually I would enjoy having less in my family room. So I do a little practice, I call it house hushing, where I just tell myself, you know what?

Kathi (07:37.944)


Myquillyn (07:39.605)

we’re gonna give it 24 hours. I’m gonna just take all my little cute tchotchkes and smalls and my clocks and my pillows and my plants. And I’m gonna take everything extraneous out, just have the furniture, and I just put it in another room like crazy in the dining room on the table for 24 hours. And it’s like zen and relaxing and without fail every time I choose out of my own free will.

Kathi (07:44.857)


Myquillyn (08:04.981)

to not bring as much in. No one has to, I don’t have to like pick up everything and ask if I love it or if it brings me joy. I don’t have to like clear and make decision fatigue. I just experience the results first of like a quieted simple space. And then I can choose if I want to get rid of something. It’s like, to me, it’s backwards decluttering and it works.

Kathi (08:10.944)


Kathi (08:25.59)

Yes. It’s the creep. It’s the creep of life. Like, I love this little thing. I’m going to put it here. I love this little thing. I love this little thing, but I don’t love the 72 little things that end up in my kitchen in six months if I don’t do something about it. And I’m not talking about, you know, the bread tie. I’m talking about the little planter or, you know, the little thing that my friend gave me.

Myquillyn (08:41.761)


Myquillyn (08:49.975)


Kathi (08:53.214)

And it’s okay to enjoy things for a season and then release them. And I’ve also learned it’s okay to just have that thing that my friend gave me out in the fall. It’s not a fall decoration and I love it, but it doesn’t need to be out 365 days a year because I enjoy a quieter space. I really do. I love that. And if you live near me,

Myquillyn (08:57.762)


Myquillyn (09:18.133)


Kathi (09:22.23)

Check Freecycle for this really beautiful but unnecessary gray chair that needs to that needs to go Okay Again for my clutter free people you are in our brains friend rule a one sane space Talk about that

Myquillyn (09:40.693)

That came about when we were living in a fixer upper and every room was in chaos. We didn’t have a sink in the kitchen. We had like plastic sheets as walls, you know, a weird electrical thing. You could get electrocuted if you weren’t careful. And I just remember thinking, okay we got to have, we have to feel like a little bit normal. We can’t have every room be in chaos. So even with the plastic walls, I just got some paint and I painted over because it was like

Hunter green walls with the wallpaper. I pulled down the border real quick. Didn’t prep it perfectly, just thought, I gotta get something up and we’ll do it better in a few months. Threw a white paint on the wall, put a rug down, got our sectional in there, a couple pillows, a lamp, the television, the dog bed, like we can watch Andy Griffith, we can watch Survivor at night. A place for our family to feel relaxed and like.

sanity in the midst of living in a complete fixer upper. And even if you’re not in a fixer upper, if you’re, the relief of having one space that feels however you need it to feel, maybe it’s more minimal, maybe it’s more cozy at this stage in your life, while you do things in your other rooms is really powerful.

Kathi (10:57.986)

Not 20 minutes before we started these interviews, I was on a call with a nurse talking through her clutter situation. And she’s sneezing through the whole thing and is just sick and run down. And she goes, but I need to declutter, I need to declutter. And like, you cannot make any decisions right now. What I want you to do is just, where do you spend most of your time when you’re

as you’re recovering, she goes, in my living room. I said, I just need you to have a clear spot where your eye line isn’t seeing any clutter. And we can deal with this when you have more energy to make decisions and to do what you need to do, but you have to have a place to rest. And if your eyes are distracted by things, all these hanging chads, all these things that still need to be done.

You can never rest. Your brain is always flipping on, oh, it’s the hunter green paint. Oh, the dog’s bed isn’t in here because I don’t wanna get stuff on. You just have to have one place that you can open your eyes and rest. And this is, I love the name of it, One Sane Space. I’ve never thought of it. I always say you just have to have one place where you can escape, but Sane Space says,

No, I can rest and recover in this area. I love that so, so much. Okay, we’re going deeper into the rules, my friend. Number 98, make your own house rules. So explain this, and I wanna hear a few of yours, and I’ve got a couple of my own as well, because I have done this, but explain this concept.

Myquillyn (12:49.761)

Well, I give a book of 100 house rules and that’s one of them. I think that we should all come up with our own rules to live by. You know, about 10 years ago on Pinterest, it was a big thing. Everyone was making their own wooden sign with like house rules, you know, dogs on the sofa and whatever, no, whatever. It was like all fun things. I love that. Like that’s one of the reasons that I liked this name for the book because I think culturally it conjures up that memory of like the fun.

Kathi (12:53.292)


Kathi (13:04.212)


Myquillyn (13:18.541)

house rules, the relaxed house rules. But one of my personal decorating house rules is that I like my life full of color, but I like my house full of neutrals. I am persnickety and I change my mind. In the spring, if I am furniture shopping, I will buy teal furniture and blue furniture. And in the summer, I want red and pink furniture. And in the fall, I want rusty colors and muddy. And in the winter, I want white. Like I have learned, I can tell when I buy a piece of furniture,

that’s a color based on this, because it was like the season, whatever season was, the color I’m craving. I cannot do that, because I can’t buy a new sofa every four months. So, I learned I am way too like finicky and wanting to change my colors. So I will get all of my base things neutral. And then if I want colored sheets, if I want colored pillows, if I want a colored sweater, I’ll put up books with colors and flowers with colors.

Kathi (13:51.788)

Oh, yeah.

Kathi (13:57.856)


Kathi (14:10.798)


Myquillyn (14:15.585)

but I’m not gonna buy my main pieces in color because I wanna change my mind, I wanna change it up too much. That is not a rule for everyone. Someone else might have the opposite rule and they should. So that’s my example, what is yours?

Kathi (14:24.77)


Kathi (14:30.946)

So I’ve got a practical one and I have a fun one. So in our house, flooring needs to be functional, not fabulous. And I just needed to do it because, I mean, we live where there is a high chance that chicken poop will get in our house at one point or another. We’re just not precious about stuff. And we need stuff that is functional. And we can put the pretty stuff

at waist level or above. But yeah, the floors just have, and I would never have chosen the floors that we have downstairs, but they’re exactly the right floors. The previous owners knew what they were doing when if we needed to, we could take a hose to them. We don’t do that, but we could if we needed to. And then the other thing is, my style is things we love.

And that’s just, there is nothing in my house that I don’t love. I used to have things in my house that other people loved. Like we had, I bought a pillow one time for Christmas and in red letters it says Joy. And I was so sad to put it away after Christmas. I’m like, is Joy just reserved for December? And so now I have this Joy pillow out all year long.

And it makes me so happy all year long. And it’s like, we only have things in our house that we love. And if there’s something in our house that we don’t love, we have to question, you know, I don’t love our emergency kit. We have it in our house, but it’s not something I’m displaying. And so that’s our style is things we love. And it’s never going to fit into any genre, but I…

I wake up every day and I’m happy. So

Myquillyn (16:31.021)

That is perfect. The whole goal is for you to love your home. You have arrived. Like when we love our home, we use our home. So do not change any of that.

Kathi (16:34.71)


Kathi (16:39.34)


Yeah, and I’m reluctant to leave, because the world is not suited for me in any way, shape, or form, but my house is. Okay, this one. You’re a genius, this is all I’m gonna say. Rule number 99, make a we did it list. This is genius, please expand upon what this concept is.

Myquillyn (16:50.605)

and I’ll see you next time.

Myquillyn (17:06.989)

Gosh, I think when it comes to home, we are so focused on all the stuff we have to do and all the undone decisions and all the ceiling fan that needs to be replaced and we haven’t gotten to the back porch yet and the flooring in there. If we can take a moment and take stock of all the things we have done, I do this at least every year and look back like everything in our house, we do it with our goals too, like what we did with our family, but.

Kathi (17:16.91)


Myquillyn (17:34.561)

You and everything counts. If we made a chicken coop, if we replaced the faucet, if I’m like, and I dusted behind the sofa, write that down, you know, change the light fixture, whatever, it all counts. I think we would be shocked at what we accomplish in a year, in a month in our home. We need to give ourselves credit for all that we’ve done in caring for our home.

Kathi (17:59.246)

And do not discount making a chicken coop because let’s be clear the one we got was advertised as like a Michaels do-it-yourself project and it turned out to be a Home Depot expert pro project It I mean it is it is a fabulous chicken coop, but holy cow. Yes I think it’s we have such I do this with decorating I do this with God, but what have you done lately? What have you done lately like?

Myquillyn (18:12.301)

It’s true.

Kathi (18:28.074)

You know, yes, I have worked so hard on my house. I forget what it was like to move out of the upstairs of our house to put flooring down. You might as well burn the house down and start over again. It is so much work, but it’s done. And it’s done for the next hopefully 20 years. But it’s so easy to focus on, yeah, but the kitchen light fixture. Like I haven’t done the kitchen light fixture.

Myquillyn (18:43.894)

I’m dead.

Kathi (18:56.858)

And I love that you’re taking stock. And this is so true in our cluttery communities. We always talk about, we declutter and then it just gets to look like that again. But here’s the thing, once you get the stuff out of your house, you never ever have to deal with that book or piece of furniture or piece of clothing ever again for the rest of your life. You may have to deal on what you’re bringing into the house but look at what you’ve done.

And we’re so proud when our kids do something, we need to also recognize ourselves for the accomplishments we’re doing. Because let’s be honest, some of these projects are hard and they take big grownup decision making that is sometimes, and you’ve saved money to do things. And if you’ve brought in outside help, that doesn’t always go the way, and you have to negotiate with the people you live with. And so anytime you accomplish something, it is…

It is a win. And guys, if you are ready to, especially if you’ve done some decluttering, I really think one of the best things you can do for yourself, and I know I learned this term from you, after you’ve quieted your house, you can take a look around and say, is there something that I want to do? Because now that my house isn’t screaming clutter at me, it can reveal its personality. It can reveal who it is.

And guys, I’m just gonna really encourage you. Take a look at this book, House Rules, How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget. Myquillyn this is, I get so inspired when I spend time with you. Thank you so much for your time and your wisdom today.

Myquillyn (20:37.341)

Oh, Kathi, you are so dear. You could, you know all of this. You don’t even need me. Like you are beyond. So I just, so happy to know you and man, you are so wise.

Kathi (20:49.758)

Okay, even if that was true, here’s what you do. You help me be brave. You help me not get, I think so many of us who deal with clutter are such, we’re perfectionists in such hard ways. We don’t do anything until we know we can do it 100%. And you’ve given me permission to say, even if I think I can do it, I should try. I’m probably not gonna burn the house down. I probably am not going to have to repaint the whole room. And…

You know, maybe some $20 decisions are okay to take a flyer on. So I know a lot of what you teach, but you helped me be brave to enact it. And that’s what I want for everybody in my community. So thank you. Thank you, friend.

Myquillyn (21:36.749)

Oh, happy to be here. Thank you.

Kathi (21:39.69)

And friends, thank you for being here. You are the best part of us gathering each week. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#613 5 Steps to Unstuff Your House

#613 5 Steps to Unstuff Your House

613 – 5 Steps to Unstuff Your House

Are you feeling trapped in a home overstuffed with, well, STUFF? You’re not alone! In the latest episode of Clutter Free Academy, Kathi teams up with Tenneil Register, an incredible mom who mastered the art of living clutter free – even in the tight quarters of a fixer-upper with a blended family of seven! Tune in for their tips on:

  • Making your house a home instead of a storage unit
  • Using things you love as creative storage solutions
  • Letting go of things that are no longer your vibe

In this episode, Tenneil mentions using repurposed items to decorate her space. Here are the promised photos!

And here’s Kathi’s favorite Suzani couch:

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released, or here to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit!


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Favorite Links:

Sign up here for Kathi’s newsletter or here to receive her Clutter Free Basics Kit!

Clutter Free Resources:

Have you made creative storage solutions out of objects meant for something else, like Tenneil did? Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

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Meet Our Guest 


Tenneil Register

Tenneil Register can be found creating, repurposing, decorating, gardening and welcoming guests to their reclaimed barn storefront. She and her husband, Cowboy, established rural roots for their blended family of 7 in their DIY ranch home in Iowa. Connect with her on Instagram for practical ideas to reclaim your home or visit R7Reclaimed.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:01.463)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter Free Academy where our goal is to help you take small doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, we love her. She may be newish to you, but she is going to become a regular over here at Clutter Free Academy. You guys.

It is my friend, Tenneil Register. Tenneil is a business owner. She has the cutest little store you’ve ever seen in your entire life. She runs an Airbnb. She’s had a blended family and is one of the coolest, most stylish people I know. Well, let me just call it, it’s country stylish, right? Okay, so welcome Tenneil. And when I say country stylish, I’m not saying, I’m not making that go down.

We were just talking about how Dollar General is, what’d you call it?

Tenneil (01:05.364)
is the rural girl’s Target

Kathi (01:07.455)
It’s so true, right? Like, you know you live out in the country when you’re like, oh, I could use that as decor. Like, it’s a different thing, right? And I mean, I just love it. And you have such an eye for that kind of stuff, which I do not. And so I love to see you decorating and stuff, but you had to get your house decluttered before you could make it all your own, didn’t you?

Tenneil (01:37.394)
I absolutely had a challenge of a lifetime when we bought our house after blending our family.

Kathi (01:43.851)
Okay, so I want to know the stats, like how many people, how many square feet, like how many his, how many yours, how many ours, you know, all that kind of stuff.

Tenneil (01:54.222)
Okay, so stats is five acres, 1800 square feet on an upper level. Yes, and then we have a basement, but it was unfinished.

Kathi (02:01.847)
I didn’t know it was that small

Kathi (02:07.64)
Oh my goodness. 18. Okay. Uh, how many people did you have?

Tenneil (02:12.13)
So I brought one to the table, he brought four. So there was five kids plus the two of us. So that made what we call our seven.

Kathi (02:14.359)
Right. Okay, oh.

Tenneil (02:23.28)

Kathi (02:23.351)
Okay, yeah, by the way, okay, so Roger and I did 1400 square feet, four kids, but one of them’s like, I’m out of here. Cause she was 18 and she didn’t wanna share a room with a 13 year old, which we totally got. But it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done when it comes to house and clutter and all the things.

Tenneil (02:45.802)
Yes, and we didn’t have all of them living with us full time, but there were times they were all here and we wanted everybody to have their own space. So in the house that we bought, it was a fixer upper, like there were no floors, just sub floors, and it had five bedrooms on that 1800 square feet. So you can imagine how small the kitchen-living room combo were to have five bedrooms in that 1800 square feet.

Kathi (02:49.956)

Kathi (02:54.917)

Kathi (03:01.384)
Oh no. Oh no!

Kathi (03:09.079)
Yeah, right.

Holy cow, that is a ton. I mean, that is just a ton of people in such a small space.

Tenneil (03:15.09)

Tenneil (03:20.658)
and all of those people come with stuff. And when you’re new to a blended family, your own stuff is really important. I can remember such long arguments over what to pack in a suitcase so it wouldn’t be over the weight limit and so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the amount of laundry and things to keep track of. When Jesse and I got married, I had one three-year-old kid that I was pretty OCD with.

Kathi (03:28.135)
It really is. It really is.

Kathi (03:48.545)

Tenneil (03:49.187)
So transferring this to a large group of people, whoa.

Kathi (03:52.567)
Yeah, yeah, it’s a lot. And for all of you out there listening, we all have that one seemingly insurmountable clutter challenge. Maybe a parent has passed away and you’re bringing all their stuff to your house, or you’re blending a family, or you have to downsize quickly because of a financial situation or a health situation, or…

you are taking, you know, several of my friends who are Gen X or in the boomer generation, their kids are coming home with, you know, their spouses and their kids. And so these are all huge, huge situations. So when your house gets stuffed like that, like it’s almost like yesterday, okay, Tenneil this is a terrible illustration, but I have to share it now.

We went to a place called, I think it’s called Bad Donuts. I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s something like that. And what they do is they give you a donut. Roger and I have been wanting to try it. Oh, it’s called Bad Bakers, that’s right. And we’ve been wanting to try it. So we got this donut and they give you, I’m not joking, a medical syringe filled with cream that you stuff into this donut and this donut like puffs up. So by the way, it’s one of the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life.

But that’s how your house can feel like during these circumstances, right? It’s a weird one, but yeah. Yes.

Tenneil (05:19.254)
that’s an excellent illustration because you love your donut and you love your home and then when you fill it with something it kind of feels overstuffed.

Kathi (05:29.767)
Yes, and that’s exactly what was happening yesterday. I love that. I didn’t even pull that out. But yes, I love the donut I love this cream filling. It was a chocolate cream filling. Oh my goodness. It was amazing But yes, it felt like too much. It was getting everywhere Like i’m not even joking. I took Moose in for her doctor’s appointment I get back in the car and i’ve got this streak of chocolate on my face. I was so embarrassed, but you know what? If I have to be embarrassed, let me be embarrassed by chocolate. So

I, we’ve come up with five steps to unstuff your house. So I want to go through this with you and let’s figure out how we can help people who are in these circumstances, um, get through it. So the first step that you and I talked about is acknowledge and accept. So tell me what that looked like for you when you and Jesse got married and your house felt out of control.

Tenneil (06:22.422)
Yeah, so I think one thing is acknowledging the clutter issue. It’s not a people issue. It’s not a family issue. It’s an issue with stuff that needs to be changed and can be changed. So this isn’t about changing like our relationship with people. This is about changing our relationship with stuff so we can improve our relationships with people.

Kathi (06:26.691)
Mm-hmm. Mm.


Kathi (06:35.062)

Kathi (06:41.731)
Oh, it’s so true. And I think you have to give people a vision for it. Like, we know that this stuff is causing anxiety in our house. And we want to change that for everybody. Because it feels like it’s the people who are it’s such a good point Tenneil it feels like it’s the people who are giving you anxiety when a lot of it could just be the abundance of stuff, because that really can raise anxiety.

Tenneil (07:10.09)
Yes. And what am I holding on to? Like, why is that stuff bothering me? So for example, shoes by the front door, right? Am I really upset that the people are here and they took their shoes off? No, that’s what I want them to do. I want them to come here and I want them to take their shoes off. What the real frustration was no place for the number of shoes because we had so little floor space we couldn’t afford to give any up.

Kathi (07:13.415)
Hmm. Yes. Yeah.

Kathi (07:20.398)

Kathi (07:25.952)

Kathi (07:35.979)
Yeah, you know, I don’t know if you know this story, but when Roger and I first got married, we had the shoes at the front door situation as well. And so I bought a bookshelf for people to put their shoes on. And I asked Roger to build it, and I asked him to put it behind the couch so that nobody would see it. And there was only one person in our house who ever used it. It was Roger. It wasn’t even me. It’s like, I’m not gonna go.

Tenneil (07:59.946)
Roger. I knew it.

Kathi (08:05.359)
So yes, to be able to say, and I think it’s important for us to say, this is temporary. Like we’re not gonna have teenagers forever. We’re not gonna have little kids forever. But right now we want them to take their shoes off because yeah, subfloors and things like that. I think that’s really important. So how did you set achievable goals in the whole idea of decluttering?

Tenneil (08:31.798)
Yeah, so I think with the achievable goals, we had to look and say, okay, what is it about this space and what can we do about it on no budget and without like really changing people’s behavior, right? And so on the shoe thing, right? It was deciding which of these things are the real problem. You know, is it the number of shoes? Is it where we’re keeping the shoes? So our first step was to…

Kathi (08:39.584)
Bre- Yes.

Kathi (08:44.517)


Kathi (08:52.892)

Kathi (08:57.132)

Tenneil (09:00.534)
to recognize what we needed to get rid of. So I had always prided myself in having an entryway that was pretty. That when you walk in, people go, wow, okay, that needed to go, that was not a priority in that season of life.

Kathi (09:13.535)
Yeah, okay.

Kathi (09:18.975)
Right, you’re in survival mode at this point. Yeah.

Tenneil (09:22.526)
Yeah, and so, okay, how can we make this space work? So, all that decorative stuff was put out of the way and I chose pieces that were decorative that would do the job. So I found my favorite coat hanger. We actually made it from old architectural salvage trim and put big hooks on it, right? And this set limits, cause there’s seven hooks, seven people. You get one hook.

Kathi (09:26.631)
Mm-hmm. So what’d you do?

Kathi (09:33.243)

Kathi (09:44.919)
Oh my goodness. Uh-huh.

Kathi (09:51.532)
Ah, you get one hook, baby.

Tenneil (09:54.338)
I’m not going to complain how over-stepped your hook is, even though I would like to, but you just get your one hook. And then I found this old hardware bolt bin. So this thing is like probably seven feet tall. It’s as tall as our ceiling. And it’s like, I don’t know, I think it’s five or six rows wide. I think Jesse and I shared a row for a while and full of cubby holes.

Kathi (10:00.074)

Kathi (10:04.237)

Kathi (10:08.34)
Oh my goodness.

Kathi (10:14.311)
Mm-hmm. Okay.


Tenneil (10:19.582)
And in those cubby holes, you can put your shoes, you can put your glove, you can put your baseball. I’m not gonna fight about what’s in the cubby hole as long as it’s not on the floor.

Kathi (10:27.243)
Right? Yes. It’s so true. It’s about agreeing on space, not arguing about stuff. And so this is your space. You can’t keep 10 pairs of shoes in there. It won’t fit. So you have to figure out, if you wear the same shoes every day, you’re golden, baby. But if you wanna change them out, you’re gonna have to put some things in your room, that kind of thing. Yeah, I love that.

Tenneil (10:43.351)

Tenneil (10:52.714)
Yeah, so we acknowledged what needed to happen. We sorted out what the space needed to be used for and came up with a function and a purpose for that, which led to good storage.

Kathi (10:56.443)

Kathi (11:07.019)
Yes, and I love that you know sometimes you have to do temporary things until you find what you love but You you found some things you love are those things still hanging in your house? Okay, i’m gonna need a picture of those because I want to see what we’re talking about here is that okay? Okay

Tenneil (11:18.102)
They are.

Tenneil (11:24.554)
Yeah, absolutely. And I will send you the picture that includes the shoes laying on the floor in front of the rack where they go, because we are still human, but it is so much easier to bend over and put them up in the shelf or to say something like, hey, you have till 5pm to get those up in the shelf. Now, I’ll tell you, I don’t know where this fits into our five steps. However, the key to implementing like this category and storage for the people when they were young.

Kathi (11:30.086)

Kathi (11:33.879)
Of course.

Uh, I love it.


Kathi (11:52.631)

Tenneil (11:55.382)
was that I would say, okay, you have till the end of the day to use the systems we have in place. And then anybody who didn’t, I didn’t complain, I didn’t nag, I didn’t yell. I simply picked up all of the things and they went in a tub. And to get your things out of the tub, you would have to do a chore.

Kathi (12:00.27)

Kathi (12:14.303)
Nice I love that you had to ransomware it was ransomware it was an I Love it, okay guys. We’re gonna take a quick break. This is only step one of five So we’re gonna blast through those last five But we want to help you unstuff your house, and we’re gonna continue to do that when we come back

Tenneil (12:19.502)
Absolutely, it was highly effective for us.

Kathi (12:36.583)
Friends, we are here with Tenneil Register, who, she’s got the style, guys, she’s got the style. And we’ve already talked about our first step to unstuffing your house is to acknowledge and accept what the situation is. And I love what you said. It’s not that you want the people out of here for most of us. Okay, some people, at one point we did have to have a Come to Jesus meeting and say, you have to move out. You don’t live here anymore. But, but.

Tenneil (13:01.924)

Kathi (13:05.431)
It’s the stuff and we need to figure that out as well. Okay, so let’s go to step number two, sort and categorize. So as you’re decluttering, we have our three bag, well, it’s really a five bag system. So put away, give away and put back. So put back is in the room that you’re already in, put away is, it’s other rooms, sorry, other rooms and then give away.

is what are you gonna donate? And then we have garbage and recycling. So is that what you did? Or how did you keep up on decluttering, especially during like a remodel and stuff? How did you do that?

Tenneil (13:51.726)
So definitely our categories were similar. Whenever we approached a space, I took the idea, what are we gonna keep? Because kids or all of us as humans, we have a hard time deciding what to get rid of. So we went into the space assuming we’re gonna get rid of everything other than what we’re gonna keep. Then once we had our keepers, we sorted out, okay, would you feel better about donating this, selling this or pitching it? And so that was really important.

Kathi (13:55.611)

Kathi (14:00.632)

Kathi (14:06.648)

Kathi (14:11.216)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, so smart.

Kathi (14:18.124)
Mm-hmm. Right.

Tenneil (14:21.994)
Because we live in the Midwest and we experience all four seasons in such a significant way, seasonal sorts were critical. Because we literally change out all of our clothes, all of our gear for leaving the house, the sports equipment, like everything changes by the season.

Kathi (14:25.52)
Mm-hmm. Right.


Kathi (14:33.227)

Kathi (14:38.875)
Tenneil I had no idea. I lived in the Bay Area, which is the most moderate temperatures, probably in the United States. Like rain was such a big deal, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. And then I moved to the mountain where, today, on this day of our Lord, we are bringing down our summer winter stuff.

because and it’s like it’s a huge deal. It’s a huge deal. And today is the day we’re putting away the snowshoes. And I mean, it is such a huge deal. So if you live in these other places, it really, you’re not just turning over your house, you’re turning over your wardrobe, your equipment, all of that stuff, right?

Tenneil (15:28.054)
Yes, and so each time you do that, it’s important to purge, purge, purge.

Kathi (15:32.599)
Yes, yes, yes. And I love, you know, we’re doing this right now. And when we come, I’m purging two different categories. I’m saying, okay, what have I not worn all winter? And then as I pull down my spring and my summer, just really recognizing in myself, do I still love this thing? And it’s okay to say no.

It’s okay to say, you know what, I bought that last year at Costco because I thought it was cute, but it’s not my vibe. And I would rather it go to somebody who will love it and use it instead of keeping it and just punishing myself every time I open up the closet. We’ve had to do that with equipment that, you know, we bought what we thought was the right thing, turns out it wasn’t. And let’s get into the hands of somebody who’s it is the right thing.

How does that work out for you?

Tenneil (16:30.902)
Yes, I love that we’re only keeping what we love, what we use. And for me, at the beginning of the podcast, we talked stats. Stats were super important in helping us manage stuff for so many people in one household. So for example, I learned it at first when we were packing for trips, that I would have to be very specific. I want you to pack three pairs of shorts, three pairs of shirts, two swimsuits, right? I would give them the numbers.

Kathi (16:37.295)

Kathi (16:40.759)

Kathi (16:45.878)

Kathi (16:49.919)
mm-hmm yes

Tenneil (16:58.998)
The same helped when we would purge. I want you to pick your five favorite dresses. I want you to pick, you know, your two best snow boots. And then helping them find a meaningful place to pass it on was the best part of helping them let it go. So whether that was like a younger niece or nephew who would be thrilled to have their Nike tennis shoes or whatever. And then also like we used our local…

Kathi (16:59.343)

Kathi (17:04.623)
Hmm, yeah.

Kathi (17:11.409)

Kathi (17:20.876)

Tenneil (17:28.554)
like food pantries also give out clothing closets. And my kids really had a deep understanding that somebody else would really love to get their nice things. And that helped as well.

Kathi (17:32.24)

Kathi (17:39.935)
Mm-hmm, right. Oh, I love it. Okay, step number three. Instead of discussing this, because what I wanna talk about, what step number three is implementing storage solutions. Here’s what I would love to, Neal. We’re gonna get the pictures of your bolt bucket and your clothes hanger. And if you have a couple other pictures of storage solutions that you’ve used, because we could talk about it all day, but…

Literally, a picture is worth a thousand words here. Would you be willing to do that for us?

Tenneil (18:15.658)
I would love to share pictures of how I used decorative pieces that have rural vibes because that’s who I am to organize the things. And that made it fun for me too because I got to pick something creative to manage all the stuff. So I’d love to share photos of how we managed all the things over the years.

Kathi (18:20.695)

Kathi (18:31.648)

Kathi (18:36.567)
I can’t wait and then we’ll have to come back on another podcast and discuss how you How you use those because I think that’s gonna be really interesting to people and how you came up with it. Okay step number four and For me, this is I had to admit That I am not a minimalist

I’m not a minimalist. I like stuff. I like things that suggest who I am. And I’m wondering, where do you put yourself in that category?

Tenneil (19:18.286)
Hmm. I would also say I’m not a minimalist. I like to change out my decor seasonally. I like to use decorative pieces to store things that are typically from like a family travel. So like I love to like antique and thrift. So if I find a box that I love that has the name of a place that we are traveling.

Kathi (19:26.139)

Kathi (19:38.158)

Kathi (19:47.891)

Tenneil (19:48.902)
I want to bring that home and I want to use it. So the key for me is to find like a purposeful way to use it.

Kathi (19:51.595)

Kathi (19:56.191)
Oh, I love that so much. Yeah, and I think it’s okay to say we’re not minimalist. That’s not our aesthetic, but we don’t wanna be stuffed either. We wanna find that happy meeting of having, I love things that have a story, just like you. Sitting on my bed is a teddy bear. This is a teddy bear that my son got 35 years ago, but it still makes me smile every time I see it.

Tenneil (20:14.271)

Kathi (20:26.239)
Uh, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got a couch that I remember like, you know, I, I love it because it’s beautiful, but also the memory of finding it and calling Roger and taking pictures and saying, you know, I never called him and I’m saying, by the way, I’m buying this, but that’s what I did. By the way, I’m buying this because this is my, you know, how people have their heart animal, like this is my ride or die. That was this couch.

And so I’ll make sure I take a picture of that couch so you guys can see that. I’ve shared it here before, but it’s called a Suzani print, which is a Middle Eastern print that I adore it. And it’s just who I am. So I love that you collect things that are from travels and things that are important to you and your history. I think that that’s amazing. I think about like the gift that was most meaningful to my mom.

Tenneil (20:55.231)

Kathi (21:25.179)
from my daughter was a Kansas City pillow. You know, it just had all these things from Kansas City on it and my mom loves it. I mean, she loves where she was born so much. Her cat’s name is Casey. So, you know, we love that. Okay, and then step, oh, go ahead, yeah, please.

Tenneil (21:41.282)
So I was thinking as you were talking, Kathi what if we could answer two questions? Why do I love this? How or where will I use it? And then it’s a keeper.

Kathi (21:48.691)

Kathi (21:54.047)
Ooh, those are such good ques- yeah, that is such a good question. And before you bring it home to be able to answer those two questions, I think is a real, and you know, if you absolutely love it and you haven’t figured it out yet, okay, if you just know, like this Suzani couch, I did not know where I was going to put it, but like, oh, we’re making a space for that. Um, which is pretty funny to do with a whole couch, but it’s some place I love.

Tenneil (22:02.603)

Tenneil (22:19.702)

Kathi (22:21.115)
But yes, I think that that’s so important. And I think it’s really important to not bring things home to fill a space because it’s very easy to be like, oh, you know, I could really use X, Y. And I’ll admit, I have a couple of pieces of furniture that were fill a space furniture. And one of them I’m giving away this week. It’s an extra wide chair.

that I just I needed to fill a space downstairs and now I should have waited for something I love the good news is I have a friend where this is the perfect chair for her and what she needs so I love that but okay number five um I think in unstuffing your house there there’s a time element which is to set time aside

but also to not rush the process, especially when other humans and emotions are involved. And it sounds like that’s what you did, that you started the process, but you were not telling people, okay, you have to be able to fit everything into a suitcase and otherwise you can’t have it in the house. You were making space for the people.

Tenneil (23:42.006)
And you have to be willing for error to occur. The bolt then that worked for our shoes was not my first attempt at where to put our shoes. You know, like tried putting them in the closet, you know, tried putting them under a bench, tried saying you can, I did try to say, you can only have one pair of shoes out here by the door, the rest go to your room. That was fighting behaviors in humans that I was going to lose.

Kathi (23:46.215)
Mm-hmm. Okay.

Kathi (23:52.539)
Oh, really? Okay.


Kathi (24:02.149)

Kathi (24:06.105)

Tenneil (24:09.11)
So you have to be willing to kind of make mistakes and learn from the process while you figure out which category of stuff should go here and what storage unit should we use to hold that stuff.

Kathi (24:17.732)

Kathi (24:23.871)
Yeah. So really what you were doing and I, it’s my favorite word in the world. You were curating. You really were taking your time. Curation does not happen in a day. It happens over a lifetime. And you were curating the space for your family.

Tenneil (24:42.778)
You know when we go into a space what makes us most comfortable whether it’s someone’s home, a hotel, an Airbnb, a restaurant is when we are guided through the process so simply that we never find ourselves asking where should I put this? What should I do next? And so how important that in your own home everyone who lives there feels comfortable knowing where should I put this and what should I do next?

Kathi (25:00.123)
Hmm, yeah.

Tenneil (25:11.138)
that that’s not disruptive to their feelings of home, especially in a blended family situation.

Kathi (25:11.384)

Kathi (25:19.332)
Mm, ah. Tenneil, I have loved this conversation. This has been amazing. And I’m gonna make sure that we have all of your socials on here. So if people wanna follow, because I just think your life, especially on Instagram, is so inspirational with what you’re doing and how you’re creating and curating things. I think people would love to follow you. Tenneil, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Tenneil (25:46.795)
Thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed the conversation so much and I look forward to talking more

Kathi (25:49.183)
Yeah, it’s so fun and deep at the same time. And friends, thank you for listening to Clutter Free Academy, I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always designed to live.