Another New Year = Another New Me!!

Bonjour, bon ami!  And Bonne Année 2013!


It has been faaaar too long since I’ve made some time to blog, but like most of you, I have been just too busy, and fortunately I have found lots of inspiration lately for blogging.  A new year always brings a fresh start, and I’m wasting no time this year at shaking out the dust and purging (similar to last year!).

albert einstein, einstein, genius, physicist, clutter, desk, organization, organize, declutter, workspace, 2013, new year, resolution

Friday afternoon, after reading a number of friends’ Facebook and Pinterest posts about ‘organizing everything in your life’ and the hundreds of ways to free yourself of the clutter and mess that naturally comes with the ‘holidaze,’ I started to make a list.  I’m not one to really make formal resolutions and stick to them, but I do like lists.  And I can stick to a list.  And I love scratching things off my lists!

Here is my first “2013 Cleanse” list (I’m sure there will be many more in the next 360 days!) after a mental assessment of what I need to do with another fresh start at hand:

  1. Clean out hallway linen closet – reorganize shelves; get rid of unused items
  2. Clean out hallway coat closet – purge unused coats/items; reorganize shoes and other stored items
  3. Consolidate luggage pieces and move into garage
  4. Clean out/purge/decide what to keep in seasonal clothing storage containers under bed
  5. Get rid of useless/space-eating knicknacks (on desk, shelves, etc)
  6. Brainstorm/visualize ways to maximize unused/wasted but much needed space (check out the many mobile and iPad apps to help with home decor!)
  7. Maximize bathroom space for additional storage
  8. Get rid of oversized bedroom chair; create small reading nook in bedroom corner
  9. Find tall shelving for bedroom (thanks, ApartmentTherapy for these amazing storage ideas!!) & smaller comfy chair for new reading nook
  10. Buy black high gloss paint for interior doors (seems like such a small change but wow, what a difference), and paint doors within 30 days
  11. Buy crisp white high gloss paint for bathroom, and paint said bathroom within 30 days
  12. Start marking items for garage sale (ie. small old green tin table; unused shelf in dining room); prepare for garage sale within the next two weeks
  13. Find stud finder on Amazon (and stop hanging things on the old drywall)
  14. Research new bedroom colors/decor, and brainstorm within Houzz (dedicated exclusively to home decor, renovation and inspiration) and Pinterest, of course!

Phew, I have to get started!  How much can I get done by tomorrow?  Well, I guess I will have a better idea by Sunday around 3pm.  But I am certainly excited to update you on my progress!!

What are you doing to take advantage of 2013’s fresh start?  I would love to hear your ideas and stay motivated!

Stay tuned for my updates this weekend!  Until then, enjoy the first of fifty-two weekends to come!!


Progress Report: Project Harmony


As many of you know, I am in the midst of PH 2012, aka Project Harmony, and my early successful results were a precursor to my continued progress in this project!!  As promised, I am here to update you on the liberating results thus far:

~ the mini home office ~

footnote: You’ll notice there are no ‘before’ photos.  This is because my office space/corner was such a disaster, I couldn’t bear to actually use it as an office.  It was more a place where opened and junk mail went to die… So I’ll let you use your imagination for the ‘before’ state.  Here is ‘after’!! (I’m sooo happy!!)

home office declutter new year space new year resolution organization organized storage
{clutter free and dandy!}

And yes, that is my furry children’s window perch to the left, formerly a quilt covered leather bench, that has since been claimed by said furry children.

Now my office area isn’t an eye-sore in my living room.  Instead, it is a pleasant little corner near windows where I can enjoy my cup of coffee or tea while I work, with storage for all necessary and wanted items, made cozy with personal knickknacks and photos. The missing element to this project is my reupholstered office chair (a current WIP!).  Updates to that coming soon!

Here are a few more touches to my newly revamped office area:

ikea expedit kassett home office declutter new year space new year resolution organization organized storage box
{Ikea Expedit 2×2 shelf; Ikea Kassett Magazine Box}
ikea home office declutter new year space new year resolution organization organized storage
{Ikea Kassett CD Box}

home office declutter new year space new year resolution organization organized storage
{got a lil’ nuts with the label maker!}

~ bathroom organization ~

I didn’t realize that I needed help with some bathroom organization and storage, until my better half and I bought the wrong shelving unit from Ikea this weekend.  We accidentally bought a small ‘Billy’ 3-tier bookshelf which didn’t fit the Kassett magazine boxes.  So before disassembling the thing, we tried to find a home for it, and a home we found in the bathroom.  Now we have a small space to hold guest towels, extra supplies and even guest toiletries, a number of which I happen to come across during this project!  Overnight guests have use of new disposable razors, face wash, lotion, new toothbrushes and floss.  Who needs a Holiday Inn?

bathroom storage billy bookshelf bookcase shelf guest toiletries towels declutter solution
{perfect little bathroom shelf}
bathroom storage billy bookshelf bookcase shelf guest toiletries towels declutter solution
{great storage solution for guest towels & toiletries}
bathroom storage billy bookshelf bookcase shelf guest toiletries towels declutter solution
{necessary -ahem- reading materials}

I can’t wait to share the big changes in the hallway, linen and bedroom closets!!  A lot of purging happening at the LBH HQs, and as much as I thrive in a random and somewhat chaotic world, this small bit of organization feels AB-FAB!  Speaking of, did you catch the all new 2012 episode of Ab-Fab this past Sunday on BBCA??

How are your decluttering and organization projects going?  I’d love to hear about your progress!!

For now, I’m taking a little Ab-Fab break with a glass of Bolly at my new desk (I WISH!), and I’m looking for things to file, throw or give away.  I can’t wait to post my next progress report!!

Until then, may you all continue to live la belle vie, bon ami!!


Project Harmony: Day 1 Victories!!


I am already finding huge success with my new one-month decluttering project, which I have appropriately entitled “Project Harmony.”  I am a few small steps closer to feeling like this!!

freedom jump for joy new year clean slate fresh start inspiration
closer to clutter-free!

I’m actually already feeling like this, and here’s why: last night after a long day at the 9-5, I was pretty wiped out, and didn’t get to start on PH (Project Harmony).  I was in bed pretty early, and thus woke up a bit early this morning.  I stared at the small mess on my kitchen table and started putting things away, like the bag of recent Target buys, the pretty wrapping paper I found on clearance, throwing away receipts, etc.  When I pulled out my gift wrap box under my bed, I saw a big bulky old duffel that was now a dust bunny magnet.  I resolved to putting it in a “donation” box that I would start putting together, and when I opened the duffel to make sure there wasn’t anything important in it, I found these:

crate and barrel el pollo loco gift cards
total value: $80!!!

Two gifted gift certificates from friends that I thought I had accidentally tossed in the trash!!!  Oh happy day!!!

PH has me so inspired in the very first day – I feel like I can do ANYTHING! Now if only I could figure out how to create a shoe closet like THIS for myself in my teeny apartment…

closet organized shoes storage fashion home
dream closet!

A girl can dream, right?

Day One of PH: TRES BIEN!!!!

How are your home organization projects or New Year~New Slate projects going?  Inspire me with your own progress and success stories!!

Happy Thursday!!


New Year = Decluttered Slate!


I hope your 2012 has started off full of excitement and anticipation of many great things to come in the next year.  Many people begin their year with resolutions and plans for change.  I don’t like to formalize any resolutions, but I do like to start the year with a clean de-cluttered slate!

kitchen storage as decor declutter clean organized new year
{The Big Book; apartmenttherapy}

I would give an arm (maybe not an arm, but possibly a digit…) to be uber-organized and clutter-free like the above picture.  So this year, I’m giving myself ONE MONTH to tackle a few projects I’ve wanted to tackle and haven’t yet.

organized bedroom decor storage declutter new year resolution
{The Big Book; apartmenttherapy}

AND… I will be updating you on my progress!  I’ll even take REAL PICTURES of my befores and afters, so you can see my progress, and of course offer any suggestions you may see!

I’ve enlisted the help of a friend of mine who is a real-life ‘Monica Geller’ when it comes to organizing.  She also has some great prep-taste!

Here’s an idea as to my next few weeks’ declutter activities and a peak into some of my upcoming progress reports-slash-blog posts:

1.  Hallway closet: toss empty boxes, reorganize coats, repurpose unused laundry baskets

2.  Corner desk tornado: enough said.

3.  Downsize bedroom oversized chair

4.  Old unused tvs!!!

Here are a few great suggestions and quick&easy suggestions for kicking off 2012 with a little less clutter and a lot less stress:

~ Real Simple created “The Get It Together Plan” with great suggestions and advice for starting and finishing the de-clutter projects (yes, it is rightly called “The Get It Together Plan”…)

~ Nate Berkus has some great ideas for being clutter-free in 5 days!

~ Apartment Therapy’s list of great articles and tips to a cleaner space with small and fast methods for everyday (not for 8 hours in one very loooong day…)

~ I found a GEM! ImperfectHomemaking has a fabulous series called “31 Days to An Organized Home” – AWESOME, VALUABLE and PRACTICAL suggestions here!

~ of course, the Queen of Home Charm, Martha Stewart, has some great ideas and inspiration for organizing the various spaces in your home.

~ and lastly, remember that this project doesn’t have to be just about throwing things away or bagging up stuff for the Salvation Army – look at it as an opportunity to find some unique and beautiful decor ideas and inspiration!!  That’s what Brabourne Farm did – who wouldn’t love to organize their files and things in such a stylish way??

home decor shabby chic storage boxes
{brabourne farm}

What kinds of cleaning/decluttering projects are you working on or planning?  I’d love to hear your ideas!!

Well… I better get to work!  It helps to know that there are a few people out there keeping tabs on my progress – that’s some motivation!!!

Wish me luck!!


Bonne Annee 2012!!

happy new year 2012 bonne annee
{flickr: Alexandre Dulaunoy}

Bonjour!!  Bonne Année!!

I hope you had a safe, festive and delightful holiday season with friends and family, and if you enjoyed it as much as I did, your pants are fitting tighter but your smiles are bigger.

champagne new years eve glasses celebration bonne annee

I spent New Years Eve at home with a few wonderful friends, laughing and looking back on the year, enjoying a few cocktails (which didn’t help in the fight against my cold – boooo), and watching the ball drop at midnight while my eyes grew heavy.  What a perfect evening it was!

black eyed peas new years Hopping John Hoppin' Jon
black eyed peas!
mustard greens collard new years soul food
slow stewed mustard greens

Yesterday was spent with a few mimosas here and there, a little cleanup, and some New Year’s cooking.  The black eyed peas simmered, the mustard greens slow stewed, and the whole roasted chicken definitely kicked off the new year right!!!

reflection window granite counter new yearToday is the last day of holiday rest, and it’s wrapping up nicely with more relaxing, a little shopping (there are some AMAZING sales still happening, ahem, SAKS), a matinee and a beer.  It is, after all, 79 degrees here in our LA winter (I know, just AWFUL!).

I’m trying to keep my goal for 2012 simple: be better.  A better friend, partner, worker, listener, cook, daughter, sister, person.  Be a better me.

What are you doing to kick off the New Year?  Any resolutions to help guide you, any bad habits to kick, or any new habits to start?

Here’s to a fabulous start to your year, bonne ami!


Looking Back, Pausing and Moving Forward to 2012

owl, wise owl, hibou
{tumblr: dontcallmebetty}


I hope you are enjoying the holidays with many loved ones and friends! I have been a bit absent from LBH but this has given me so much to think about and ponder, and be so very thankful for the many blessings and people in my life. I have been so excited about creating La Belle Hibou as a new vehicle for me to connect with others and learn, share, and exchange ideas, perceptions, inspirations. So with this here last little post for 2011, I thought I would personally open up a bit more to my tiny audience and to anyone willing to read it, about my last 12 months.

2011 did not start out well. In January, a very close dear friend of mine unexpectedly passed away. I had spoken to her over the phone just weeks before, and losing her was one of the worst and most difficult challenges I have ever faced. Her passing also happened during one of the busiest times in my 9-5 life. I had been working literally about 100 hours per week since December for an enormous project – a project which came to a screeching halt the minute I got the news. And yet, her passing also brought many wonderful subsequent happenings. Mutual friendships became stronger, and we still turn to each other for comfort, laughter and support. Our friendships are closer because of our loss. In our loss, we have also gained. For this, I am so thankful and humbled.

wedding, southern wedding, Atlanta, place setting, wedding flowersI managed to get through that enormous project at work relatively unscathed, and lived to tell about it (no more 100+ hour work weeks!). Not long after the project closed, I was able to see another very close friend marry the love of her life. It was a beautiful occasion, and we cried and laughed and laughed and sang karaoke after the reception. She married during the early spring in the South, in a scene of trees blooming and cloudy skies breaking open. Such a happy occasion!

nicaragua, travel, central america, flowers, beach, monkey, jinotegaA month later, I was able to visit my semi-retired parents in their (temporary) home of Jinotega, Nicaragua. It was an amazing experience – the beautiful largely untouched land, the tumultuous political history and persevering people, the delicious coffee… the COFFEE!!! Obviously the cost of living is so much lower than the cost here in the U.S., so I’m so happy that my parents are happy. They deserve to enjoy their pseudo-childless lives now until they return to the U.S. And until that day comes, I have a reason for more Central American trips and passport stamps.

chicago, chicago bean, hollywood bowl, summer, pets, cat, dogThe summer passed too quickly – I spent a wonderful weekend in the windy city with friends, got to reunite with visiting friends, and had an infamously memorable weekend in Santa Barbara. A hard lesson was also learned: go to the doctor when you aren’t feeling well because home remedies aren’t always enough. I had a scare with a bladder infection that took a dangerous turn for the worst into a kidney infection. I know there have been just a few moments when I have feared for my life, and this was definitely one of them. Feeling terribly ill for nearly a week with a high fever, sweats, chills, repeat… Thankfully I recovered, LESSON LEARNED THE HARD WAY.

wedding, newborn, new parent, place setting, wedding decor, first dance, newlywed, life stagesThe end of summer and beginning of fall was truly the highlight of my year. A (future) sister-in-law’s wedding and spending time with (future) in-laws who make me laugh and smile and warm my heart kicked off my favorite season of the year. The wedding was followed by seven – yes, seven – baby showers of very dear friends. I finally acknowledged the universe’s message to me, and nodded in my understanding of this life stage. To see the first few newborns of said showers made my Babies-R-Us shopping sprees worth every cent. Holding the babies, hearing the ever so sweet and quiet noises they make while sleeping in my arms, taking more pictures than a paparazzo, hearing the stories about the long labors and pleasant epidurals… I am so blessed to be a witness to it all and be a part of it.

A couple weeks ago, after coming home from an amazing weekend in San Francisco with the one I love so much, I was brushing my teeth and preparing for bed when I began contemplating this blog post. Looking back on the year that began with a horrible loss, but is ending with beautiful new life, new beginnings. As much as I miss my dear friend ~ as stressed out as I was in 2011 ~ as many gray hairs that have popped up seemingly overnight on my head ~ as much as I did not accomplish this year that I intended to accomplish ~ it doesn’t matter.

look ahead, move forward, future, field of flowersIt’s time to prepare for another new beginning, new life events, new ups and downs, new inspirations, new discoveries of myself. It’s time to take each day one day at a time, and be grateful for the overabundance I have in my life. It’s time for me to pick up the phone and call (not text) family and friends, even if it’s just to say hi for a few minutes or share a funny story or thought. It’s time to make plans to have more people over to my home for a meal or a movie or a cocktail or a coffee more often than not. It’s time to give back to others whenever I can, no matter how little money I may have in my pocket. It’s time to smile to passersby whenever possible, and possibly get a smile in return, or not. It’s time to try to face each challenge, big and small, with a smile and with laughter and as much joy as possible, remembering that with each challenge my goal should be to better myself.

It’s time for 2012.

I thank you for reading my reflections, and I would love to hear yours!!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful end to 2011, and to an even better 2012!!

Bonne Année!!! Happy New Year!!!

La Belle Hibou