New Traditions Can Relieve Holiday Stress

December is one of the most hectic, crazy, and hopefully fun months of the year.  It’s a month filled with activities, many based on traditions.

  • Shopping for gifts.
  • Special meals and other treats such as cookies, candy, etc.
  • Putting up all the decorations to create that festive mood in your home.
  • Sending out greeting cards to everyone you know.
  • And don’t forget all the parties you feel obligated to attend at your work place, schools, friend’s parties, and family gatherings.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or both there are a lot of preparations for the holidays.

Along with all these activities comes a lot of stress. Expectations are high. Usually these high expectations come from long standing traditions, many which we don’t even know where they came from.  Maybe it’s time to lower those expectations and create some new traditions that fit our lifestyle of today.

Changing a tradition without feeling guilty, especially if it’s been handed down for several generations, is not always an easy thing to do.  If you enjoy the tradition then go ahead and keep it going.  If you don’t enjoy it and experience unnecessary stress to keep it going, then maybe it’s time to question why!

Here is a little story about following traditions and not knowing why.  I’ve heard many times in different ways. Some call it “Grandma’s Cooking Secret”.

A young newlywed was cooking a brisket.  Her husband asked her why she cut off both ends of the brisket before putting it in the roasting pan.  She replied that was the way her mother always did it.  She later asked her mother why she always cut off the ends of the brisket. Her mother’s reply was because her mother had always done it that way.  The next time they visited the newlywed’s grandmother, she asked her grandmother why she always cut off the ends of the brisket. She replied, “because my roasting pan was too small”.

Snopes has several variations of this story. They will make you question why you follow some of your traditions.

Start some new traditions this year that fit your current family, not past generations. You’ll be starting new traditions to pass down to your children. And let them know why you are doing things your way.  Have an open mind if your children want to create some of their own new traditions.

Change is sometimes hard to accept. If you’re not happy with a new tradition then you can always go back to the old one next year.

Happy Holidays!



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Lessons Learned From An Open House


A couple of weeks ago a house in my neighborhood went up for sale. It had an open house that day so I checked it out.  There are some lessons we can learn from going through an open house. Since most homes that are up for sale are decluttered, at least temporally, it can be inspirational to see how a clean, simplified home can look.

I’m also curious what other people have done when remodeling and decorating their homes. It’s especially helpful when the house is similar to mine.

I love coming home after visiting an open house to start working on my own house. It gets me in the right frame of mind to start clearing out some of my own clutter.

When you do go to an open house keep some of the following questions in mind. It will help you get a better perspective of what your home could look like.


Staging a home for sale usually requires a homeowner to remove and store a large percentage of their things. That makes the rooms look bigger. It also makes the rooms look less cluttered and messy. Plus the house is easier to quickly clean up when a realtor calls at the last minute to show the house to a potential buyer.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself while going through an open house and when you get back home.

  • “Do my walls have photos and other decorative items covering them from top to bottom?”
  • “Do I have so much furniture it’s hard to move around in the room?”
  • “Do the flat surfaces (table tops, shelves, mantel) have way too many nick-knacks and other decorative items on them?”
  • “What can I declutter to make my house look cleaner and less messy?”

If your answer is yes to any or all of the questions it’s time to start getting rid of a few things. Even if you aren’t moving any time soon it helps to look at your furnishings from a prospective buyers viewpoint.  It can help you see what is worth keeping and what is not.



As you go through a open house do you notice if there are any magazines or books on the tables or floor waiting to be read?  I doubt it.  Are the bookshelves overflowing? Probably not. Most realtors recommend packing up most, if not all the books, magazines, and other things that fill the flat services or shelves.

Now think about all the magazines, books, and other small items you have laying around in your home. Here are some more questions to keep in mind when visiting an open house and when you’re back home.

  • “If I were to move, what books, magazines, DVDs, etc. am I willing to pay money for to store while trying to sell my house? Which ones am I willing to pay money to move?
  •  “Which nick-knacks, decorative items, plants, lamps,  or other misc. items are worth paying money to store and/or move?”
  • “How many of these things am I keeping just because there is an empty space for them to occupy?”

The biggest question to ask yourself is; If you wouldn’t move things to your new house then why are you living in your current home with things you don’t want? You deserve better than that.


Updating and Remodeling:

You may be at a point where you’d rather remodel and update your home than move. If so, then checking out the open houses for sale in your general area can give you a lot of ideas.  You’ll see what remodeling projects are being done in your area of town.  The decorating magazines may show remodeling projects that are popular in a different part of the country but could be a turn-off to future buyers in your area.  That could make it harder to sell your home when you decide it’s time to move.


Visiting some open houses on a weekend is just one tool to help you get inspired and motivated to declutter, decorate, or remodel your home.  You’ll be able to see your own home’s potential in a new light, especially if the open house is similar to your own house.

Clearing out the clutter and excess furnishings can make a house look totally different. Some fresh paint on the walls or cabinets can freshen up a room and your attitude at the same time.

To a lighter load along the way.


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Why I Haven’t Been Blogging


Over the last couple of years I haven’t been blogging on a regular basis. I didn’t know what to write about anymore. I began to doubt that my words were being read by anyone much less helping anyone on their decluttering journey.

When those kind of doubts enter your head it’s hard to be creative.  It’s like being a butterfly looking for nectar but there aren’t any flowers blooming.

I could have shared links to old blog posts. I’ve done that a little. But I’m a writer so I wanted to write about new ideas even though they seemed hard to come by.

I began to feel like maybe I was burning out on the topic of my blog.  I knew it wasn’t because I’d become so organized that my life and home were completely simplified.

Far from it!

Actually my home was more cluttered and unorganized than when I started blogging eight years ago.  So what happened?

A Little History

For those who have been reading my blog since the beginning  (I thank you so much) you probably are aware of the course my life has taken during this time.

For those of you who are newer I’ll briefly list the timeline of events that have lead to my house being less organized.

1. Three Months After Starting My Website and Blogs:

I was diagnosis with HER2+ breast cancer.  What followed was surgery, chemo, and radiation. Because of the kind of cancer it was I also had a targeted drug (Herceptin) by IV every three weeks for almost a full year.

2. Ten Months After Diagnosis:

My older sister was diagnosis with breast cancer six months after I was. She had a different kind (less aggressive). Since she had three daughters she decide to get genetic testing done. She was positive for the BRAC2 gene. I then went and got tested. I too have the gene.

That meant I was high risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The kind of cancer I had (HER2+) already put me at a higher risk for re-occurrence. With the BRAC2 gene it became a double wammy.

3. Seventeen Months After Original Diagnosis:

I had a full hysterectomy including the ovaries removed. It was preventive surgery but gave me a little peace of mind.

4. Just Shy of Two Years After Original Diagnosis:

My mother had a major stoke during surgery for possible lung cancer.  The stoke left her permanently in a wheelchair. Fortunately she lived in a ranch style home so it could be made accessible. But she did require full time caregiving. Since I was the only daughter in town (my two sisters live out of town) I basically had to oversee most of what the caregivers were doing. Plus I took on the responsibilities of paying her bills, managing her home maintenance and repairs, handling her medical insurance, etc.

5. My Mother Passes Away Five Years Later:

My mother stayed at home with the full time caregivers for four years. Then we moved her into a nursing home. She lived for another year there. It was a total of five years where I had those added responsibilities.

The Result of Those Seven Years:

During the first two years of my own illness I was able to continue blogging. I also was able to keep my house and the clutter under control. But during the five years of my mother’s illness it became more difficult to control the clutter or continue blogging on a regular basis.

The routines to keep the house clean and decluttered were gone. Although I kept up my own bills and my mother’s, the filing was getting out of control. I began to feel like a hypocrite. How could I write about decluttering and organizing when I found myself unable to follow my own advise.

Deciding Whether to Keep Blogging or Let It Go:

This past year has been a transition year for me. I’ve learned to re-evaluate what is really important to me.  I’ve learned to forgive myself for past mistakes and not take life so seriously.

So at the beginning of this year, instead of beating myself up about feeling like a failure, I decided to use a common decluttering tactic on this blog.  It’s where you  pack up things you can’t decide if you want to keep or let go of into a box.  Then you date the box for six months or a year before storing it somewhere out of the way. When the date on your calendar shows up it’s time to let go of anything that is still in the box. Some experts even say to take the box to a charity, etc. without even opening it.

I’ve done variations of this tactic with clothes and other items.  I decided to do a variation of it with this website/blog to help me decide whether to let the blog go or start it up again.

I’ve only written and published two blog posts since the first of the year.  I worked hard not to feel guilty about not writing in it. That’s part of the letting go process.

During this time I would post and share information on my Facebook page but even after awhile I didn’t do that very often.

So I began to think that maybe it was time to let it go.  I was starting to work on my fiction again, which I did enjoy.

Changing My focus

Life has slowed down a little for me. I feel calmer. I’ve rediscovered myself. As a result I’m starting to feel the passion for blogging on this site return.

My focus has changed. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because of all I have gone through over the past eight years.  I’m finding it is easier to make decisions as to what adds value to my life and what doesn’t.

I decided this blog does add value to my life and should be kept. I’m proud of all the posts, articles, newsletters, e-courses, and eBooks that I have written for Cut Clutter With Scissors, Organize By The Month, and Cut Out The Paper Clutter.

Although many of the posts are dated there is still a lot of good information that can help others on their own journey to a more simplified home and life. So now I feel it is my calling to continue to share this information and write updated posts.

Decluttering and organizing is a journey, not a destination. Sometimes it’s not easy to balance all that life throws our way.  There will always be things and relationships that enter our lives.  And, to prevent it all from overwhelming us, we will have to let go of what no longer adds value to our lives.



I’m grateful for all of you who have continued to support my effort to share my passion. I look forward to reigniting the online conversations I’ve had with many of you through the blog, Facebook page, and emails. You’ve added value to my life. I hope I can return the favor.

To a lighter load along the way.

Janice Scissors

P.S.  If you aren’t already signed up to join me on this journey please do so now.  You’ll receive updates when I write a new blog post or article. Over time I’ll be redoing this website to make it a better resource for information to help you along the way.

Get a free eBook when you sign up for updates.  SIGN ME UP


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27 Clutter Free Mother’s Day Gifts


Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday.  It is one of the most commercial holidays in the United States. Lots of cards and gifts are given on this day to honor our mothers.

If you haven’t bought a gift yet this list will give you some ideas that she’ll appreciate. And the best part is they clutter free or mostly clutter free.  There are also many that cost little or no money at all.

Clutter Free Gift Ideas

Gift Certificates:

  • Restaurants
  • Movie theaters
  • Live theater, one show or season tickets
  • Concerts
  • Sporting events (my mother loved hockey and baseball)
  • A day of pampering at a local day spa

Donation or Memberships:

  • Donation in her honor to her favorite charity.
  • Membership to a Public TV station or her favorite subscription website.
  • Membership to a local museum, zoo, botanical garden, or other local attraction.


Clutter Free Gift Ideas – Mostly Your Time

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

Gift Certificates for Your Service:

It’s easy to create a gift certificate on the computer and print it out. The certificate should state the service that is to be preformed. Here a few ideas. Many would work great for age appropriate grandchildren to give to their grandmother.

  • Cleaning the garage or basement
  • Yard-work (I give my mother-in-law geranuims each year for the flower pots on her condo porch. The gift includes planting them for her. It’s an unwritten yearly gift certificate.)
  • Car washing
  • Special household projects (painting, minor repairs, etc.)
  • Dog/cat/pet sitting

Gift Certificates  for Shared Activities:

These activities can range from free to expensive. The important part is that you do the activity together.

  • A movie
  • Lunch or dinner
  • Special event
  • Visit a local museum/attraction of their choice.
  • Spend the day together at a local spa.


Almost Clutter Free Gift Ideas

Be aware of the kind of container the following items are in. You don’t want those to become clutter.

  • Specialty Cookies
  • Gourmet Cakes
  • Gourmet coffee or tea
  • Candy –  If she is watching her diet look for a small but special candy she wouldn’t buy for herself.
  • Lotions
  • Fancy shower gels or bubblebath
  • Perfume
  • Candles

If you can’t find a gift above that will work for your mother you can always give her a hug and tell her you love her.

“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.”  ~Author Unknown

Happy Mother’s Day



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Take Action! The Only New Year’s Resolution That Works

There is only one New Year’s resolution that works. That is when you resolve to take action towards your goals.

Two of the top New Year’s resolutions are decluttering and organizing your home and losing weight.  In the past I’ve made both of those resolutions many years in a row.  I slowly got to a point where I felt I was fairly organized.  The clutter wasn’t completely gone but it wasn’t overwhelming my day to day routines.  However, I did need to constantly work at it to keep it that way.

But life happens. Continue reading

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Give Clutter Free Gifts

Christmas treeOver the years I have written several blog posts with ideas for clutter free or almost clutter free gifts for Hanukkah and Christmas.  Since my  mother and mother-in-law had mentioned years ago that they didn’t need or want  more things to fill their homes I’ve done plenty of research to come up with different ideas.

When my mother was moved to a nursing home in 2014 and we had to go through her entire house to sell it, I was glad she told us not to get her more “things”.  She did not have a lot of clutter laying around but there was still plenty of stuff to go through in a her three bedroom home. She has since passed away but I still have some things to go through. Continue reading

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Halloween Isn’t Far Off. Are You Ready For It?

Cora and Halloween

October is already here.  That means Halloween isn’t far off.  Are you ready for it? Continue reading

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Simplifying Can Feel Like You’re Swimming Upstream!

Mini waterfall

Do you feel like you are swimming upstream against the current when you try to simplify your life? I know I do.

So what do I mean by this? Continue reading

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The Holiday Season Will Be Here Before You Know It!

Wild turkeys

It’s already September.  The holiday season will be here before you know it.

Last week I was walking in my subdivision and in the fields at the end of one of the streets I saw a flock of wild turkeys.  I zoomed in the best I could with my cellphone.  Those turkeys got me thinking about the upcoming holidays.

So I figured it was time to get started with the planning.

“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” ~ H. Stanley Judd

Continue reading

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What Value Does An Item Have?

It's not what you look at - quote

What kind of value do you put on the things you own?  Is it sentimental value or maybe emotional value?  Could it be practical or useful value?  Or maybe it’s monetary value.

If you don’t know what kind of value you put on an item you may be keeping many things that don’t add to your life and make it better.  That’s what creates clutter.

It’s hard to let go of things when we put unrealistic values on them.

So how do you know if the value you place on an item is unrealistic or not? Continue reading

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