Project Castle Black

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Glen Ellyn, Illinois, June 27th – October 9th, 2016

picture of a black home we call Castle Black

Castle Black

This long term stay worked exceedingly well for our us. Our aging dog, Carlos, was in need of routine and stability during this stage of his life. Castle Black was able to offer just that. Our stay worked out exceedingly well for our hostess as well. Years of accumulation gave us an opportunity to show off our decluttering skills!

Rolling Up The Sleeves

We had several places to dig in, should it be the basement-laundry room? the garage?, the downstairs family room which hadn’t had a deep clean in years?, or her office where you couldn’t see the floor?

We ended up tackling all of them. But first, we needed a functioning kitchen. The sink, disposal and dishwasher were in disrepair. The entire kitchen needs a facelift, so replacing the appliances or hardware did not make sense – getting them to function was our only option. That’s just what we did. It wasn’t pretty, but we got all systems to work.

I’m serious!

And, with guests visiting frequently, it was important to have a working kitchen. The dishwasher was a minimum!

We cleaned windows – the double hung sort, with screens, – cleared gutters, decluttered all sorts of hiding spots, and organized spaces. While conquering these tasks, Woody also managed the massive landscaping of 2 properties. Roses never bloomed so full, lawns were lush, he even planted a new tree.  It wouldn’t be unusual for him to have a dozen yard debris bags out each week!bright yellow roses

Day to Day Extra Hand

Probably my favorite ways to assist is using my accounting skills. Balancing checkbooks, compiling expense reports, data entry, or troubleshooting computer applications. Oh, yes, I balance to the penny – it’s a sickness. Because our hostess is working full time, I was thrilled to be able to assist in all of these departments.


bag full of typewriter ribbon tins

You think we’ll miss these??

The biggest challenge was organizing, and encouraging a reality check on the “treasures” that were squirreled away.   This is a tricky balance. My job is to ask questions, and listen… not to offer answers or judgments. (Though, I used a lot of strong encouragement in this case!) For example, I would ask these sorts of questions:

  • Do you use these items often (ever)?;
  • How many of these – water bottles, scissors, paper hole reinforcements – do you need?;
  • do you like the way this cabinet, drawer, shelf, closet  is organized?;
  • Is it more convenient if these were relocated to a lower shelf?

crazy decluttering of a messy office

Especially important, we work closely with the homeowner to help categorize items, suggest different ways to organize cabinets, hustle the donations to the right charity (library, Veterans, Red Cross, etc), obtain the tax paperwork, and discard what’s necessary. Of course, the most satisfying part is putting things in their new, logical locations and basking in their organized glory.


About Hali

Just a travel junkie trying to find my voice in the blogosphere. I enjoy sharing my photography and fast facts I learn in the places I travel through.

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