Category Archives: Little Lessons

A Roll of the Dice: Decluttering, Cleaning, Organizing, and Decorating the Lessaris Estate


Clutter and disorganization do not care about your income, your home’s square footage, or how many people/pets live in your home.  I live in a single-family home with my husband, no children at home and no pets.  Well, except for our fish…
Roll of the dice fish
Our home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a full finished basement, in all over 3500 square feet of space, plus porches and decks – and it is full of clutter and disorganization!
Roll of the dice front to back
Confession time (shared from my Facebook page) –
this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Roll the dice confession
This post is not written because I have it all figured out, but because I really do not have it figured out!  I am a List Lady, and I find it much easier and more likely to get done if I write it out step by step to be sure I have thoughtfully considered everything to be done. My hope is that this process helps you too.
I also do not intend to do this Every. Single. Day.  That would become stressful, physically fatiguing, and mentally strenuous.  I will implement my plan every few days, and each step in each room may take a few days to accomplish.  If you are exhausted, then you will give up too quickly, and your other daily tasks would suffer as well.
My plan to conquer the chaos begins with an overview of what I call
The Clockwise Process.”
No before pictures for today since, not only would that be overwhelming to me, it would be scary for you!  Read through the process for an idea of where we are going on this adventure, using my own home and my own needs as a starting point.
So fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…
a goal without a plan is just a wish
Make a list of every area in your home.  Be specific and be thorough.  I have numbered my areas and rooms because, in order to defy my anxiety and distress at deciding just where to begin, I will be rolling the dice to choose the room.  Obviously (or not so obviously), I will be limiting the first several rooms to the first several on the list.
Or I could just use my dodecahedron dice…
Roll of the dice jar
Areas to declutter, clean, organize, and decorate (my home)
  1. Entryway
  2. Office
  3. Front hallway
  4. Sleepover suite
  5. Sleepover suite closet
  6. Studio
  7. Common bath
  8. Master bedroom
  9. Master closet
  10. Master bath
  11. Living room
  12. Dining room
  13. Liquor cabinet
  14. Kitchen
  15. Laundry
  16. Back hallway
  17. Back hallway closet
  18. Guest bedroom
  19. Guest bedroom closet
  20. Guest bath
  21. Stairwell
  22. Rec room
  23. Storage room
  24. Front yard
  25. Front porches
  26. Deck/fire pit
  27. Back yard
  28. Side yards
  29. Vehicle
{Note: If the room where you are working has a closet, treat it as a separate area. Do not try to include it in the clockwise process.  Perform the clockwise process on it as a room.  (Personal exception: My studio closet must be treated as part of the studio due to its function as a part of the room.) Notice that I have also included my vehicle in this list.  Sometimes I feel like I live in my Kia Soul!}
time pic
Step one for each space is decluttering.  I really cannot clean and organize, and I won’t decorate, until the area is decluttered, because stuff gets in the way!  Isn’t that just life?  My focus is on one room at a time, one step at a time, so after decluttering I can move on to the other three aspects of making my home beautiful.
The Clockwise Process for De-Cluttering
You will need these supplies, plus possibly a friend, music, and maybe a glass or two of your favorite wine:
            Timer (not on your smart phone – too distracting)
            4 baskets/bags/boxes, labeled as:
Other rooms
Other homes
Work fifteen minutes at a time, then take a five minute break.  You can adjust these times as you need, but I suggest stick to some kind of time limit.  Go clockwise from your left hand as you stand in the doorway facing the room.  Decide if the first immediate item at your left hand is where it belongs. Use the baskets as follows:
  1. Items that go to other rooms simply go into the designated basket. Don’t try to put away each item as you come across it, or you may get distracted from the task at hand.  This basket can be sorted when the current room is decluttered.
  2. Items that go to other homes also go into its designated basket. These may be things you have borrowed and should return, or things you purchased for someone else (unless the time has not come to gift it – in this case, it should go into the “other rooms” basket so it can be placed into an assigned storage spot until the appropriate time).
  3. Items for donation should be in good condition – no breakage, no holes or tears, no stains. If you would not wear it or use it “as is” then do not donate it.  These items go into the trash bag.
Suggested donation sites:
Salvation Army
local charities and resource centers
  1. Items for trash go into the trash bag, the trash bag gets tied up, and the trash bag gets out of your house. No tosser’s remorse allowed!
Now for the roll of the dice.  And the winner is…
Roll of the dice die

Little Lessons – Cruise Control

I am The List Lady.  My life is made up of lists.  If you need a list for almost anything, it is likely that I have one.


I don’t see this as a bad thing.


I will be enjoying my fourth cruise in a few weeks.  Of course, I have a cruise preparation and packing list at the ready.  I have it saved on my computer and printed, and I have laminated the sheet for durability and so I can use a dry erase marker to check items off as I am compiling and packing.  By using my system on this list, I rarely forget to bring anything!  (I have a separate packing list for the road trip to the port and home afterward, and another packing list for clothing for the cruise, not included here.)


Tips for What, When, Where, Why & How

Items in red are absolute essentials!  Everything else can be replaced on board.



  • Cruise documents (boarding pass, passport, visa, driver’s license, photo ID) – make multiple copies in case they are lost or stolen
  • Medical insurance card
  • Credit cards Be sure to call credit card companies before traveling to notify them of travel plans
  • Cash in small bills for tipping porters, valets
  • Prescription drugs, essential medications
  • Glasses, contacts and saline solution, reading glasses, sunglasses
  • Cell phone and charger
    • Change lock screen on your phone to display emergency contact information, including email address and an alternate phone number
  • Necessary toiletries and wet wipes
  • Swimsuit and cover-up
  • Ink pen (not gel-type pens)
  • Lanyard with clear pocket
  • Vehicle keys

Do pack: (placing a dryer sheet in each piece of luggage will help to keep everything smelling fresh)

  • Use soft-sided luggage so it can be stowed under the bed after unpacking
  • Appropriate clothing needs (plan two outfits per day + 2 swimsuits)
  • Hygiene needs (for liquids in bottles – remove lid, place a small piece of plastic wrap over the opening and replace lid to avoid spills)
  • Camera, extra memory card, charger or extra batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Waterproof phone cover
  • Small flashlight
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Sunhat or baseball cap
  • Extra folded duffle bag
  • Tote for excursions
  • Lightweight jacket or sweater
  • Watch
  • Small clock for stateroom
  • Ear plugs
  • Dramamine or seasickness bands
  • Tylenol, Advil or other pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrheal medication (*if you get diarrhea and go to the ship’s MD, you will be quarantined! Take care of it yourself if possible*)
  • Ziploc bags
  • Pop-up hamper or trash bag for dirty clothing
  • Travel coffee mug and/or insulated cup with straw
  • Clothespins – a half-dozen should be plenty
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Magnets or magnetic clips/hooks
  • Bottle of Mio or other water enhancer
  • Hanging shoe organizer
  • Highlighter marker
  • Multiple outlet converter
  • Umbrella
  • A few extra hangers
  • Clips to fasten towels to deck chairs
  • Dry erase board with magnets on back
  • Collapsible closet organizer
  • Small first aid kit (bandages, antibiotic ointment)
  • Lint roller
  • Safety pins
  • Hanging air freshener

Don’t pack:

  • Clothes iron or travel steamer
  • Weapons
  • Candles
  • Small electrical appliances (coffee pot, toaster, hot plate)
  • Cooler
  • Sports equipment (snorkeling equipment is okay)
  • Scissors with blades longer than 4”
  • Electrical extension cords
  • Swim towels, beach towels
  • Valuable jewelry
  • Liquor or beer


  • Complete online pre-registration
  • Bring your packed carry-on and don’t check it with your other luggage
  • Luggage tags affixed securely
  • Take a photo of luggage before checking in
  • Be on time! Checked in and onboard no later than 90 minutes before sailing time
  • Avoid the lunch buffet while waiting for the stateroom to be ready.
  • Download Royal Caribbean app to use for communication with the group
  • Choose a location for meeting other than staterooms
  • Check into embarking day spa specials
  • Check out the ship library for reading material


  • Turn cell phone off or to airplane mode and turn data OFF
  • Take advantage of free room service for breakfast and snacks
  • Order whatever you like at the main dining hall. You are not limited to one of each appetizer, entree and dessert in the main dining room. You can order two entrees or three desserts if you choose. You can also order appetizer-sized portions of entrees as starters or order a few appetizers for your main meal. It’s a great way to try new foods you’re not sure you’ll like
  • Check stateroom Bible for extras left behind for you by previous cruisers – drink cards, coupons, so on
  • Check out saunas, showers, and steam rooms – bigger shower stalls, more clean towels, fancy toiletries
  • Use the stairs – less crowded, burns more calories, plus see many great pieces of art!
  • Green apples and saltines will help combat seasickness
  • Use the slot machine as a loophole to get actual cash money instead of the expensive ATM. Just insert your card into the slot machine. Consider betting a nickel or so on a slot pull just for fun. Now cash out with the banker and you’ve just turned your onboard credit into cold hard cash
  • Main lobby deck is a good place to get away from hustle and bustle of upper decks


  • Check that all charges are accurate
  • Complete customs declaration form
  • Keep all ID documents in your carry-on
  • Count checked luggage. Take a photo of bags outside stateroom door.
  • Pack your carry-on same as for boarding, minus swimsuit


Above all, remember to have a great time on your vacation!  That is why you are going, right?

Little Lessons – Movie Night Gift Baskets

I am introducing a new category for Everything Beautiful E311 called Little Lessons.  These posts are about something you can do that is quick and easy and fun!  Confession: most of the time, Little Lessons will be posted when I really should write an in-depth, awe-inspiring, soul-searching and thought-provoking missive, but I just don’t have the time or motivation to dedicate to such an endeavor.

In other words, Little Lessons will likely make frequent appearances. winkie

šMovie Night Gift Baskets


This project is simple and cost effective, and almost always appreciated!  Most of the items you need to make this same basket may be found at Dollar Tree.  I included a popcorn tub, decorative shredded paper, microwave popcorn, hot chocolate mix, and a variety of theater-type candy boxes, along with the shrink-wrap bag.  Everything except for the hot chocolate came from Dollar Tree, which I would have purchased there but all of the boxes were crushed or bent, and that doesn’t make for a great gift presentation.

Total cost for this gift = $11 + gift card amount!

movie basket stuff

Here the steps.  From start to finish, it took me five minutes to assemble each gift box (minus the last one, since I was photographing the steps for you – not an easy feat since I only have two hands and an iPhone).

Step one: Filler.  I added a crumbled sheet of brown packing paper I had on hand for a fuller look, along with two bags of the decorative paper shreds.  You can use more or less to get the look you basket stuffing

Step two: Stuff.  Arrange the items in the popcorn tub.  I like to be sure that the recipient can see everything in the tub at once.  This requires layering and stacking, placing items at angles and differing heights.stuffingOOPS!!!  

(I just realized that I bought a box of “light” popcorn!  I hope they don’t mind…)

Step three: Nest.  The shrink wrap bag comes folded neatly and usually is rather stiff.  Open up the bag and then crush it down into a nest shape.  It is much easier to place the box inside this way rather than trying to slide the box down into the bag without dumping the contents.nest

Step four: Bag.  Straighten the sides of the bag and make sure the box is centered, then gather the top of the bag just above the contents, using your non-dominant hand.bagging the basket

Step five: Shrink.  In our house, there is one hair dryer and one curling iron, and both of them are kept in the studio/craft/room/music room.  This is about the only place they are ever used, and only for crafting.  Holding loosely onto the bag (because the air has to get out somewhere, and if you hold too tight, the bag won’t shrink due to the trapped air), use the hair dryer set on medium-high to high depending on your dryer.  Move the dryer slowly back and forth across the shrink-wrap bag.  As the bag heats up, the plastic will begin to tighten.  Do one side at a time, paying attention to the corners of the pieces inside the bag.  Let the plastic shrink around the corners of these items so that they will not easily shift when moving the completed bag.shrinking

Step six: Bow.  In the shrink-wrap kit that I purchased, a pull-type bow was included. You can use this bow or you can tie the bag with your preferred method.  Leave longer strings attached for the next step.bow almost finished

Step seven: Card.  I highly suggest giving a gift card for a movie rental unless you have included a movie DVD inside the gift bag.  Place the gift card inside an envelope.  Using a hole-punch, place a hole in the top left hand corner of the envelope.  Pull the long string that is attached to the gift bag through the hole and tie.  Either curl or trim the ends of the string.

the gift card

Step eight: Give.  Your movie night gift bag is finished and ready for the lucky recipient of your choosing!tada!