The Organizational Snowball

Sometimes the most empowering achievements in life are the simplest, aren’t they?

As you guys know, we’ve been doing plenty of organizing, purging and simplification around our humble abode lately. Some are big (why hello, there, basement), others are what I call “steps” (I’m attacking my side of the office a little at a time), and still others are a quick one-and-done attack.

Today, I’m sharing one that’s made a big impact, although you wouldn’t know it by walking around my house. I feel like playing the “colder, hotter” game with you all. No, seriously, keep looking. Not in the living room. Nope, cold, stay out of the kitchen. Dining room? Warmer. Getting warmer.


HOT! Bingo. That’s our dining room sideboard. Or server. Or console. (Not really, too big for that.) Thingamajigger that holds china and other random sundries.

We fell in love with its ’20s/’30s vibe when we were in Vermont on our honeymoon. We filled it with gorgeous china (the stuff we use once a year…maybe), decor stuff, and…crap. Crap, crap and, just for fun, a touch more crap.

It had reached the point where the top two drawers were so full that I’d pull them open a couple of inches, toss an item back in, then close it as quickly as possible (pushing pretty hard to jam it shut). Just. So. Cluttered. But, those were the only drawers that I used with any regularity. (Remember: extemporaneous china in the bottom drawers/cabinets.)

We’ll just put you through one of the drawers’ craziness.

I had a dream of purging and making one side into decor-type stuff and the other one into a kidcentric spot. Turns out, it wasn’t too hard. And I need bigger dreams.

Just had to recycle a couple dozen super old magazines. That seems to be the theme with my house purging; magazines multiply.


I mean, really. Just check out that kid side. It has made our summertime projects and “lessons” (a couple of workbooks) so pleasant. Well, the workbooks are pretty fun, anyway, but being organized has made it such a simple, more enjoyable thing.

Aaaaand the other side. My grandmother’s dictionary, some thank you notes, random decor stuff…and a cat toy that we’ve gotta keep in hiding. Ultra special, that dangly toy.


Aside from stuff that got tossed, here are things that either a) went in the basement (rafia, red and white ball garland that I LOVE using at Christmastime, homemade pennant garland, some random hardware, hardly-used trays) or b) off to Goodwill (frames!).

I utilized my good ol’ tips of 1) usage: figuring out what still has a purpose (sorry, old magazines), 2) placement: what actually needs to be there, in the dining room area and 3) getting creative: using organizational tools in different ways (a silverware organizer turned into our art supply caddy). Super helpful, super simple.

Somehow, heading to the basement after seeing such an organized little space was the kickstart I needed to dig in down there. And, the rest is history. Er. Mostly done. (We’re having the walls painted this weekend, then can move the stuff back to have an ultimately super organized space after that. Squeal!)

So, there you have it. The snowball that started the avalanche of purging. Here’s what’s up for the next few weeks:

– Finishing the basement stuff
– Office stuff (and possibly even moving ALL my stuff outta there…we’ll see)
– Hadman’s closet
– My clothes 

Anyone else using summer as an excuse to organize crap? Or are you just, y’know, having fun like most people? 😉 Do tell!  

Basement Organization – Home Improvement Crap

Welcome to “Basement Organization, Pt. II – Battle of the Clutter”!! I worked my belly off during the little man’s nap time (seriously, I had him rubbing my aching baby bump when he got up) to organize the stuff that Dave had pulled off our shelving units over the weekend. We have one unit that’s dedicated to paint (which used to house paint, but we had a “tipping over” incident) and another that has tools, electrical stuff and other odds-and-ends things for around the house.

Oh, and there was other random crap cluttering up the space.

Seriously. This is what we were dealing with when I walked into the basement:




Just lotsa wrong goin’ on. Stuff got moved. Stuff got tossed. It was fun. And my tips from our first weekend organizing came in super handy. Like stuff with like stuff, FTW! 


Hey, look! An old TV. (Which will replace our current old TV when it kicks the bucket. Not kidding.)


The stuff on the TV has actually since been taken care of, and the box on the right is stuff for Dave to go through. Otherwise, tools on the bottom two shelves, odds and ends organized by “type” (electrical stuff, cleaning chemicals, sundry tapes, safety gear) on the top two. 



Since we’ll be painting the rest of the floor (Dave started awhile back) and hopefully the walls, this stuff is all going to have to be pulled out and moved, but I needed to get it out from the middle of everything. They don’t look it, but they’re totally organized – interior, primers, Drylok, and exterior. My favorite semi-gloss trim paint lives on the shelving…because it deserves it.

So, how’re we doin’? I need to turn my attention back to the clothing situation and organizing around the washer/dryer area, plus we’ve got a Lowe’s trip to make (I’d like another shelving unit to organize kiddo stuff and maybe totes and some spray paint for a freebie I recently scored).

One thing I’ve realized is the tumbling dominoes of organization rule. The more space that opens up (little by little), I realize that it loosens me up mentally to purging and storing stuff from other areas. Like, I’ve got some stuff from the garage that I’d rather have inside than in an outside space, and our office is in dire need of decluttering. This doesn’t mean shuffling crap we don’t need around, but giving serious consideration to what’s needed and how often it’s used, then storing appropriately.

I’m super inspired by small living and mindful living websites and blogs lately, so that also helps in my mindset. Anyone else trying to live a more fulfilling life with less?

Basement Organization

We have two spaces in our house that overwhelm us with “stuff” — our office (which I hardly use and Dave uses regularly) and our basement. Since we’re up in the air as to whether or not we’ll find a new house before the little one comes along, we’re trying to be proactive, both by getting wicked organized in case we do sell and move OR in the case that we don’t move, we’ll have simplified and found more room in the process. Win-win, really.

This weekend, before I had a chance to even take “before” pictures (crappy blogger), we headed downstairs to see what we could get done. One toddler naptime turned into another and, of course, we still have lots more to work on, so I’m sure I’ll be chatting about our basement a bit more as we continue our purging/organization fun. I’m hoping to get down every day this week (during naps or after bedtime)…yup, it’s that bad.

On Day #1, while Dave sifted through all of our home improvement items (lots of sanding blocks!!), I turned my attention under the stairs. This is where all of our holiday stuff lives, along with gift wrap, gift bags, ribbon, etc. I didn’t move everything out, but organized and sifted through and evaluated…and ended up with this:


Here are some of the strategies I used to organize the space:

Put Similar Items Together – Believe me; it wasn’t easy in the beginning. Walking into a basement that has become more and more of a dumping ground over time is downright panic attack-inducing. But, my #1 organization tip is to dive in by making piles of (or simply separating into) similar items. Don’t obsess about the sheer vastness of the stuff; put on your blinders and start making piles.

So, now my Christmas stuff is with, duh, the Christmas stuff. (I’m saying “duh” to myself, BTW.) Gift bags are organized specifically by birthday, characters (like, superheroes or Peter Rabbit), and new baby, then there was even a separate bag just for the generic, anytime bags.

This was the first moment (among many) that I realized, JOYOUSLY, that I don’t need to buy a new gift bag for a long, long time. Same goes with tissue paper. And Christmas wrap…and tape…and ribbons…and boxes of all sizes. Holy crap. Literally all I need for Christmas is some new sticker tags to go on gifts (and maybe one wrap of “Santa paper”). Knowing that we’ll have a newborn at Christmastime and realizing that I’m all set with that side of things calms me. “And knowing is half the battle!” Speak to me, Transformers.

Location, Location, Location – Doesn’t it just make sense to keep the things that you use most often closest to you? In this case, it’s gift bags, which we use (and reuse and reuse) with unapologetic abandon. So, keeping those behind the Christmas stuff would’ve been silly. Front and center they are. 

This will also apply to the totes of baby/toddler clothes (of which we have, I believe, 8…I only wish that wasn’t true, and we bought very, very little of it ourselves). Why keep the 18-month stuff at the top of the stacks when we’ll need newborn and 0-3 months first? It also helps direct you as to where certain items should go, as well as help you analyze whether you need the item at all. If something’s automatically being shoved to the back wall, why? If it’s an “once-a-year-but-need-it” thing (ahem, Christmas crap, I’m talking to you), then fine. But if it’s an “I really don’t know when we’ll use that” thing, say ba-bye.   

Get creative with storage – Not everything needs to be perfectly packed in totes with labels typed in a label-maker. I mean, sure, that’d be great, but sometimes a tote takes up too much spaces or doesn’t fit your needs. (Although, I highly suggest using them for storing kiddo and maternity clothes; they don’t breathe as much as I might like, but they’re the easiest solution I can think of for now. Plus, the transparent or semi-transparent ones, you can just shove a piece of paper labeled with a marker for what’s inside along the side and see it – no tearing or getting messed up.)

So, aside from boxes we have been saving FUH-RE-VER, I grabbed things that either were heading for the donation pile or are hardly used. So, a random blue basket that I haven’t used in years just happened to fit all the tissue paper perfectly. One large seen-better-days gift bag holds all the rest of the “can be used” ones. A cheap, heavy duty glass hurricane candleholder worked as a makeshift gift wrap holder (and if it breaks, I truly won’t shed a tear). A random nail or pipe protruding from a wall or ceiling overhang is a great place to hang a string of Christmas lights.

And always, ALWAYS stack as much as possible. All those baskets you see would take up mad space if they weren’t piled up. It is what it is.

Expect All the Emotions – The rush and joy I felt has made me actually excited to head back down to the dungeon, I kid you not. I’m like a purging monster. “Must. Purge. Mooooorrrre.” And finding cards and gifts that kids gave me years ago while I was teaching at a different school? Heartstrings!

But, it hasn’t all been a high. First of all, while I’m pretty active during pregnancy with yoga and, like, not slowing down, the baby has definitely stopped me in my path a few times. “Seriously, Mama. Too much. Go get some water, sit down, and thank me later.” I can always tell that I’ve overdone it; not a matter of “if” but “when.” It’s how I roll, I guess.

At the same time, there have been frustrations and tears. Tears = finding a platter that was my grandmother’s shattered. Frustrations = the sheer mass of stuff that we actually had little control over in the first place (stuff that was passed along that we didn’t want or need).

It’s all part of the game, though, and the best emotion that I’ve cultivated is RELAXATION. No, seriously! While it’s definitely hard, sweaty, dirty work, I’ve discovered exactly the stuff we have. I’ve realized that THIS is when you overbuy.

How many times have you had to get a gift for someone so you bought more tissue paper, not realizing that you already have enough in storage? Or because you don’t know what you have in storage from awhile back, you buy yet another pair of black work pants? In our case, I’ve been starting to mentally gear up about getting some cold season maternity clothes and post-maternity COOOOLD weather stuff. (The last baby was born in July.) However, after going through all the hand-me-downs and stuff I had, even in summer, I’ve discovered a lot of items that will work! It brought a calm to me that I haven’t felt in awhile.


How many of you have a space in your house that’s overrun by clutter or needs organizing? When I head down tonight, I’ll probably be heading back to purging clothing (this does NOT excite me) or to organize and figure out storage for the home improvement stuff Dave sorted. That has spread out, big-time, so to get that up off the floor and truly organized will be a good feeling. 

Coat Closet Clean-Out

You can always tell the season has changed when I start getting the (occasional) itch to clean again. Okay, okay. Of course I clean the rest of the year…but this is my “that’s driving me nuts, I’ve gotta get it CLEAN already!!!” time of year.

This is what led me to pulling out 85% of the contents of our living room coat closet to finally, FINALLY reorganize, purge a bit, and create some additional living space for a certain someone’s toys. #notDave

Here’s what we started with…


Crappy pictures to the rescue! Dun dun-dun duuuun!!

Things had just been piled up and up and added to (super generous relatives + super adorable toddler = 4+ winter coats in the same size, and various hats ‘n mittens), so it was time to pack away those items that we’ll use in the future. We didn’t actually end up getting rid of a ton, but they found new places to live. I did some major shuffling and grabbed some fabric totes and baskets from the basement to see if I could work something out. (Spoiler: I only needed one!)

Here’s how it looks today:

Not earth-shattering, but kind of a game changer for me. Those four plastic bins of toys are out of eye-shot in the living room (I’ve still got more purging to do of toys…big time) but within reach of the little guy. If I had put them high up, every time I open the door he’d inevitably notice them and demand that they come down. Sometimes making things more easily accessible actually lessens the demand. #themoreyouknow

Up top is deceptively simple, as well. I stuffed anything diaper-related into the (duh, Meg) diaper box, moved the tennis rackets to the basement, and weeded out the bin leaving behind only the items we use, both winter AND spring/summer related. (It also has our cat essential – lint brush.) On the right side up top is where we store our board games, but there was also room to toss H’s awesome Mickey Mouse sleeping bag. It’s the little things, y’know.

Here’s a close look at our toy storage:  

Legos, wooden train set, “Little People” & other figurines, and bigger Lego pieces and cars.

This is the part that I’m most excited about. We’ve got a bookcase chock full of books in the little guy’s bedroom. We also had acquired a stack of random books, magazines (“High Five”! Love it!!), and kid-friendly comic books on our ottoman. It was time to figure something out.

So, with that one fabric bin from the basement, I created our own downstairs library. I’ll switch out books here and there to create some interest, but it’s awesome to be able to pull this out and have some quiet-ish reading time on the first level of our house during the day. We’ve honestly waited to read numerous books as a family every evening in our bedroom, but this makes it more of an “anytime” occurrence.

Whatchya think? It definitely has me glancing around at the other spring cleaning activities I’ve yet to undertake! I’m just encouraged that we were able to open our windows to let some of the good, clean air in yesterday (even if it was 40 degrees – a heat wave, I tell ya!).

Purge Plans

We just took down about 95% of our Christmas decorations and said a sad goodbye to our gorgeous tree. (I’m too attached to my “wow, I did that?!” chalkboard sketch, seen on my decor breakdown, so until I’m inspired or totally done with it, it’s staying!) Paired with heading back to school today (after a super generous two weeks off with the family…I know, I’m spoiled), and I’m definitely feeling the post-holiday letdown. Who else gets hit by this every year?

Sure enough, though, this time of year also gives me a bit of a lift. I suddenly feel motivated to undertake some purging, decluttering and organizing when January hits. Nothing to do with resolutions, but maybe something about the freshness of a new year and the boredom (if it can be called that) of winter.

Add to it the fact that we’re hoping to find a new home in 2015 and what better reason than to declutter? It seems to be the #1 way to make one’s house more appealing to prospective buyers, not to mention the fact that it’s free. To avoid the emotional side of things (don’t even get me started, LOL), I remind myself that it’s for the best if we remember that it’s better to move only the things we love rather than haul everything, including junk or excessive “stuff” we don’t actually use or need.


So, I thought I’d share a list of the purging and organizing I’m planning to do before springtime. I’ve got other projects in mind, but this is just the organizational stuff. 🙂

Basement. We have an unfinished basement with lots of stuff (and, dare I say, crap). It’s orderly, but it’s easy to just dump one thing at a time that it’s gotten out-of-hand. It’s also quite dark and cold, so you have to find a day that’s relatively warm outside and bright, and most importantly that we’re motivated to work on it. Blah.

Clothes. Dude. I haven’t even switched out my summer clothes. The best I’ve done is weeded out Had’s 2T stuff for 3T {sniffle}. So, yup. About time!

Office. I’ve promised Dave that I’d help him purge the office, although the books that we own are all ones that we love and want to keep. It’s more about organization (and a little bit of purging) to make the space work best.

Closets. We’ve got some closets that are bursting at the seams and others that are housing unimportant stuff. So, yeah. Organize, organize, organize! 

Kitchen Cabinets. At least once or twice a week, I find myself reaching my boiling point over what? Being totally unable to either get a piece of cookware out of out cabinets or get one back in its rightful place. Doesn’t sound maddening, but it really can be. These things were built for people of 90 years ago (which I love), so they just don’t work, size-wise and shelf position-wise. I figure a good purging of unused or unnecessary stuff will help, along with a reorganization.

Do you guys have any clutter cutting going on lately? Does January light a flame under you to work on anything that’s fallen to the wayside? Do tell!

On that note…off to watch Downton Abbey! (It’s only a slightly less abusive to watch than Sherlock. That one takes frickin’ years to put out a new season. Worth it, all around.)

Our Makeshift Kitchen

Given Hadley’s propensity for pretending to be a cook with his beloved play food, I’ve been jonesin’ to get him (or, more likely, make him) a play kitchen for, like, ever. But, it’s kind of useless in our house. We live in just shy of 1,000 square feet and, while it works now, there’s not a ton of “just his” play space. It’s one of the things we’ll be looking for when we eventually move, hopefully in 2015.

But, for now, we’ve gotten creative. We use bins and baskets to store most of his toys, but his “food” and anything he likes to use with it (like empty containers or spoons) has their very own makeshift home.

We have these cool but slightly crooked-door built-in cabinets between the living room and dining room. The living room side houses DVDs (perfect size) and one of the dining room ones holds decorative stuff. Awhile back, however, I cleaned out the final cabinet and decided it would be all Had’s.


It isn’t much, but finding a space that’s his very own is awesome. Oh, and he’s also only getting into my cabinets a fraction as much as he used to and he hardly gets into those “no, don’t touch” places as much. And, yes. We sucked at toddler-proofing.

I still hope to create a mini kitchen area for him in some future playroom, but for now, this spot doubles as an oven, a pantry, a fridge, and more. Pretty much whatever his mind comes up with, which is incredible.

What are some tricks that you’ve used to contain the clutter or give your little one some space that’s his/her own? I love seeing alcoves and bedroom closets transformed into little nooks just for them to play in, too. So cool!

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

I’m sure there are about eleventy billion blog posts with that title since, say, 2001. Make this eleventy billion…and one. 😉

So, anyhoo, cleaning sucks. The only person I can remember encountering who LOVED cleaning was…hmm…Danny Tanner. And he was fictional. Highly doubt Bob Saget’s even remotely like that in real life.

So, while my house is far from perfect, I thought I’d share a handful of simple tips that I use to keep the Monster of Filth from overtaking our lives. They definitely also act as a stress reliever, believe it or not.

Invite someone over every two weeks. (Or at least pretend like someone might stop by at some point.) You know that one big whirlwind clean that you do when company’s coming? The one that feels a bit like a workout? Y’know, before your MIL (or, in my case, mother) drops by? This is it.

Do it, then do it again in two weeks (one week if you can; my average is two, and there’s nothing wrong with that). You’ll notice that it won’t be as huge of a challenge when you do some of the other tips below; it’ll get easier as you go.

Plus, it feels nice to sit back and enjoy the cleanliness (and friendship, of course) at the start of a weekend, which is usually when we have folks over. (I clearly don’t subscribe to the “you’re my friend, I don’t have to clean before you come over” theory. I will, at the very least, pick up and vacuum for you. It’s the least I can do!) Even with a newborn in the mix, I try to hit the priority areas: bathroom surfaces/potty and main living areas.

Slow and steady wins the race. It sounds contradictory to the last point, but after that one big cleanfest, pick out the chores that you need to complete more regularly. Then assign them a frequency: daily, a couple of times a week, weekly, and monthly.

Maybe you need to dust and vacuum more often (vacuuming is a common thing for us with a toddler dropping food and playing on the floor where cats may be traipsing litter). Maybe your bathroom can use a quick once-over weekly, as well as your floors. Stretch these jobs out over the course of a week. Scrub the toilet and wipe down of all bathroom surfaces Monday, vacuum Tuesday, sweep and mop Wednesday, etc. Then when it’s time for your “company clean,” you’ll only have some of the deep-cleaning stuff to do.

Do something everyday. I’m not talking about the fact that my grandmother mopped her floors daily. (True story!) I’m saying that you can pick from that list and, depending on your mood and energy level that day, do ONE thing.

Mind you, this could include smaller, regular stuff like putting dishes away or folding a load of laundry all the way up to Old Englishing (totally a word) the woodwork or touch-up painting. Simple and small or big project, it all counts. This is essential to remind myself when the newborn exhaustion hits – do only what you can do, even if it’s one small task. Which leads me to…

Get into the habit of picking up. Every night when our older child’s in bed, we attack the main living area. Some days he hardly touches the toys, but most days (and especially on weekends, during the summer, or lately with Mommy on maternity leave), the place looks like a tornado hit. And don’t get me started on the holiday toys that have exploded into every nook and cranny of our lives.

So, we try to pick up. Our stuff, his stuff, whatever we can do. It really only takes about five minutes, depending on the day’s activities, and it makes a huge difference when we come down the stairs, bleary-eyed, the next morning to a relatively neat house. We’ll also do all the dishes in the sink and make sure there’s a load in the wash. Don’t get me started on cat toys, though. Those, I like to leave out for our boys’ mental stimulation, so I really only pick them up if company’s coming. Is that weird?
Find what works for you and stick with it. Some people prefer doing all the dusting in their entire house at one time, then doing another chore the next day. Others like getting one room done at a time, even if it involves dragging out the vacuum and all the supplies needed to clean it each day for each room. I usually do it the first way, but I can swing both ways. I’m hip like that.
And there’s no right or wrong way. Seriously, whatever you’re comfortable with, just do it. It’s kind of like how I budget. I know it’s not the way a lot of people would be comfortable handling money, but it works for me.
So, what’re your cleaning tips? Do you have any goals you’d like to make publicly to clean something more or in a more efficient way? Go ahead! We won’t make fun of you if it doesn’t happen. Promise! {Or feel free to share your least favorite chore!}

Gotta Stay on Top of My Life, Gotta Stay on Top of My Life

Is it just me, or is September kind of like January’s nerdy kid brother? Given all the back-to-school craziness and a return to “normalcy,” I tend to be confronted with the fact that I clearly didn’t do enough of a productive nature over the summer (even if I actually got a ton done). I flounder and stare face-to-face at a necessity to get my life in order. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Teachers, parents…hey, even single or retired folks. Something about that chill in the air, am I right?

January’s the cool kids’ turn to pick some resolutions in an attempt to kick start some positive change. I see September as a quieter, yet tad more frenzied time to do the same. All those lists that people consider on January 1st are just as relevant on September 1st. Perhaps because they’re not under a microscope as much, they may not be as intimidating…maybe?

So, obviously I’m taking a few steps to “stay on top of my life.” (If you don’t know the Kids in the Hall already, I beg of you — check out the video. If you’re not into a bit of bloody violence or quirky humor, please, for the love of God, don’t click. Oh, and this was a huge part of my adolescence. Explains lots.) For a simpler take on this, I provide you with this hilarious (or, if you’re not in the know, ridiculously random and stupid) take…


Yeah. I made that. Ahem.

Back to the point. Given that September is equivalent to January, I thought I’d share a little list of the “resolutions” I’ve already started working on. Some are relevant to being back at school and having more structured time (which means focusing on using my time more wisely) and others are just good ol’ self improvement things.


For the record, I hate the word “resolutions”, too.

Bed by 10pm (on school nights). Dang nabbit, I’m doing this. Depending on the night, falling asleep by 10 is easier than…coming up with an analogy. Other nights, my energy level is higher and I’ll force myself to lay down, sans TV/cell phone/any screens whatsoever and read. It’s helped me get to the conclusion of the book I’ve been reading ALL SUMMER, so that in itself is pretty rad. It also makes me far less grumpy come 6am. Um. Generally.

Getting in some exercise. I’m not taking on the PXButtKickandLiftChallengeXXI or whatever, but I’m hoping that by incorporating variations of cardio/Pilates/yoga/core strengthening, I’ll be gaining some much-needed extra energy as well as *hopefully* toning up some of the squishy bits. I’ve already mentioned it, but Spark People is a great free site that provides a variety of videos at various levels (hello, beginner!) and numerous lengths. I’ll probably move on to other sites if these ones aren’t cutting it anymore, but for now they’re perfect.

I think one of my issues in the past is that when I get it in my head to do something — anything — I go gung-ho initially and have a hard time following through at ANY pace. Apparently it’s something my father did in areas of his life. When it comes to exercise, I’ve done this but also burnt out thanks to overdoing it from the start. So, I’ve started out by doing one medium-length or two shorter videos at a time, breaking a good sweat but leaving myself feeling energized rather than totally zonked. I’ll build on.

Oh, and I’m doing this 3-4 days during the week and 1 day on weekends, while keeping track a) the exercise(s) and b) duration of workout on our family calendar, partly for motivation and partly because I have the memory of a…of a…I don’t even know what.

Setting boundaries. This. Is. Hard. I fall into this trend of not leaving school until after 4:30 (our contract says we can leave at 3:30). And it’s not like I’m doing anything super important. I’m just fiddling here and there with stuff that can totally wait ’til the next day. So, I’m trying to leave by 4 (and earlier on Fridays, can you imagine…). This helps with the aforementioned exercise goal (fitting in the exercise, a shower, and getting dinner underway before the guys get home) and will help me stay focused during the day on what needs to get done instead of putting stuff off ’til the end of the day.

“Money money money mooonnnneeyy. MONEY.” (That stupid song that’s used for “The Apprentice.” Gah.) I’ve mentioned this lately, but I’m going to be paying close attention to my spending, writing down my purchases, analyzing where my cash is flowin’ and why, and researching some ways to keep it under tabs.

For those in the balcony seats, let me project: I’M NOT GREAT WITH MONEY. It’s tough to admit that, as an otherwise generally responsible adult who thus far HAS been fine with moolah. (And I don’t have massive student loans as an excuse like my awesomely-getting-on-top-of-it husband.) But, yeah. We’re looking at some pretty big goals as a family and if I don’t focus on this area of life, it’ll be my fault. Not cool.

Thank goodness for cool, approachable sites like Our Freaking Budget. We also glean some good advice from Dave Ramsey, so you don’t have to leave any “Dave Ramsey is a GOD; we got rid of $1 million in debt and now have $1 million in savings thanks to him!” spiels in the comments…unless you want to brag. In which case, go on with your bad self.

Oh, and I’m even considering taking part in one of those “zero spend” challenges. Maybe. We’ll see. I’m gonna go cry now.

Planning meals. This one will help with finances but I’m also highly interested in seeing if meal planning truly does help me a) cut back on food waste, b) save ka-ching at the super and farmers’ market, and c) make life easier. I’ll check back if it does and let y’all know. And I’m on the hunt for real food cook-ahead and slow-cooker meals. SO hard to find slow-cooker recipes without a can or bottle of something super processed to bring it all together (and undoubtedly make it yummy).

Simplify, as always. This is kind of a life goal that sits on my shoulder everyday. I’m pretty lucky, though. It’s more like the cartoon angel version on the right side rather than the naughty/devilish kid on the left side. So, there’s that. But, yeah. PURGE is the name of the game. A lot of our house is looking more and more like “us”, and I love that, but we still have storage spaces (and, heck, out-in-the-open spaces like the toy explosion storage in our living room) that need another once-over. The basement is also in dire need of straightening and hoeing out (who you callin’…) AND painting, so there’s that.

The thing that sucks for me is that, well, again…I’ve got my dad’s gene of needing the motivation before getting up and DOING something. Takes me forever to finish a project, but once it’s done, it’s done pretty darn well. So, I can’t say on Monday that I’ll plan on working on the basement Saturday. I may wake up Saturday feeling motivated to do something else that’s equally important. Or play with Hadley all day. Or sit on my tush watching the world whiz by (while the laundry’s going…because at least then I’ll feel like I did SOMETHING). Whatevs.

But, I think the only way to break this is to just DO. Like, we wouldn’t have gotten our recent front porch project completed if Dave hadn’t said, “Okay, I’m going to start this.” (Once he started, I had to finish, so I didn’t want to let his hard work be overshadowed by my laziness.) And, believe me. I did NOT feel like doing it, but when it was done…well, awesomeness ensued.

Live in the moment. Observing the changes in Hadley. Enjoying the humor that my students pump into random lessons. Looking for moments of simple joy and lucky experiences. Contacting friends to hang out or come over for meals or meet up for coffee. In general, remembering to savor the good and hold onto the bad momentarily. 

Hey, look! Seven things in my list. Whatchya know? So, what about you guys? Do you feel like this time of year is a bit like New Year’s with its feeling of “let’s start this season on a new foot”?

Or are you just psyched for pumpkin spice everything? Really, though. Who can blame you?

Spring Cleaning Week #4ish

SIDE NOTE: Happy birthday to my awesome niece, Morgan, and my mom!!! Not that either reads the blog. 😉

Last week’s spring cleaning adventures were derailed with some intensive tearing apart/painting/re-decorating of the dining room. Now I know why it took me so long to get the project done! Exhausting!! So, while I did tons of cleaning, none of it was necessarily of the spring cleaning ilk; hence why I didn’t feel it right to post any to-do lists when I, myself, wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain.

So, where we left off, we had worked on any and all windows, the fridge/freezer, any downstairs bathrooms (none here!), and finally headed upstairs (or, at least, the “traditionally upstairs” places for those of you with a smaller or one-level environment) to like the office and main bathroom.

That said, here’s our “to do list” this week:

Play “catch-up.” You know what I mean. Anything on the lists so far you haven’t done (or anything that may need a little extra time — like, picking up and vacuuming the living room again). Here’s your get-out-of-jail-free card. Let’s git ‘er done.

Bedrooms. Vacuum/sweep/mop floors. Shake area rugs. (Does anyone else get a dirty look, no pun intended, from the neighbors for shaking rugs outside? Dude, seriously? Well, excuse me for cleaning my house.) Clean ceiling fans. Vacuum lampshades and your mattress. Dust EVERYTHING. Wipe down walls and woodwork. Wash sheets, pillowcases, comforter/blankets, and curtains. (TIP: Hang those puppies up IMMEDIATELY straight from the dryer. Avoid ironing at all costs!) If you feel up to it, go through your “winter clothes” and switch stuff out for spring/summer stuff. Oh, and move everything out from under the bed and vacuum/sweep/mop there, too! Think about allergies, folks.

Organizing. Y’know that office crap from last time? File it. (Ugh. My nemesis. Filing stuff.) Go through your linen and general storage closets. Go through all the books on your shelves and analyze whether you a) will read them, b) need them for future reference, or c) will read them again if you already have. Purge. Make a pile to donate. Keep a bag aside for any medicines that have expired (and keep an eye out for a prescription drop-off day at a local police department or pharmacy) — this keeps it out of our drinking water, folks!! Make a list for any organizational helpers you may need, such as bins, shelves, racks, boxes, etc.

Look around. Your house may have an extra room or two that I haven’t mentioned. (I’m not talkin’ basements here. That’s a whole other story.) So, in your living space, analyze if there’s anything left to do. Do one more walk-through to pick up, or do a quick vacuum, or a once-over with a dust rag or window cleaner. (For some reason, my TVs are endlessly filthy, and I haven’t a clue why. Other than the fact that we have a toddler who apparently likes to pick Big Bird’s nose. What a friend.)

That’s it for now! If you want, you can officially call your spring cleaning done. If you want to go more in-depth (anything I missed, go nuts!), save it for next week. Otherwise, once I’ve caught up with my to-dos, I’ll be sharing some “spring cleaning” (um…organizing) for some non-living space places. Read: The basement and garage…dun dun duuuuuunnnnn.

What better than a public statement on your personal blog to keep you accountable? Eh? Eh? nudge, nudge

Embracing Self Care – Peace in the Home

Welcome back to our third installment in the “taking care of yo’ self” series! (Not really; I just called it that.)



This week’s “Embracing Self Care” theme involves peace in the home. Now, this can encompass many different topics — from finding peace through organization, surrounding yourself with decor that helps you find peace (or finding decor that helps you feel at one with yourself; finding your “style”), finding a schedule/routine that works for you, etc. See? It really can mean ANYTHING! Love that!

For me, this involves a couple of things. Obviously, I’m in the midst of some “low-stress” spring cleaning. (Taking it a day at a time, folks.) When I’m done with the “cleaning” part (ie the scrubbing, dusting, mopping, vacuuming stuff), I plan to attack on the organizational front. I’m weird that way. I see cleaning as more of a “must destroy dust bunnies!” and “wash windows” sort of thing; yes, things are neat and orderly afterwards, but more in a “picked up” way.

So, after things are spic and span, I’m going to address any organizational issues that we have. This will entail looking at areas where we’re falling short (like finding better uses for our closets and built-ins, and my bills…I pay them, then pretend they don’t exist ‘cuz, y’know, I don’t like them…so they just end up in random piles) and areas that just need our attention, like the basement and garage (y’know…the dirty places).

This is twofold for us. Yes, we want to have an organized, happy, serene environment…but we also hope to ready our house for a possible move. See? Two birds, one stone. 😉 (Hate that phrase, but it’s relevant.) And, of course, I’ll share any tips I pick up on the way.

The second “peace in the home” factor I hope to work on (which goes hand-in-hand with readying our house for a sale) is our style. This is the week I’m FINALLY working on painting the red out of our lives dining room, with the help of my uber-motivated mom. (Spoiler: It’s already gone! Just got some trim to do before sharing.) The other rooms are relatively light and airy (our bedroom is a little moody with a green wall, which we may or may not keep) or at least neutral, and the burgundy sticks out like a sore, outdated, 1990s thumb. 

Aside from that, I’ve got some Pinspiration regarding other areas of the house. Our front room was a spot that helped sell us on the place originally, so I’m hoping to modernize it a bit with the help of some better window treatments (we still use the short sheers that came with the house…for shame). So, I’m on the hunt for some extra long white curtains to hang “high and wide” and a few more bamboo shades, for an effect kind of like this —

I’m also excited that my stepdad has offered to help me complete the tub surround with a ghetto he-thinks-it’ll-work solution (I have my doubts), so that’ll finally be a done project. I’m not happy with the art I made for that space, so I’ve got my eye out for other DIY art solutions that’ll make me happy. Not to sound picky, but I’m not a huge fan of the word art stuff (“Brush your teeth. Wash your hands.” Uuuummm. No comment.); I guess I’m more into either a graphic or a vintage botanical print type thing.

Maybe something like this… (Different colors.)

Not sure of original source 🙁 Hate that!
If anyone knows, let me know, please!

Or this type of botanical…

Original Source

I also recognize that a big part of moving will be weeding out things that we don’t wish to drag with us to our next residence. That can be a horribly daunting task, or it can be an uplifting “ahhh” getting rid of stuff we don’t NEED in our lives task. Probably 50/50, in all honesty. There’s a part of me that looks forward to taking all the wine bottles off the shelf and in storage, putting only the pots and pans that we need in our cupboards, and having less “visual clutter” around the place. I’m already asking myself how many mugs we actual need to have on-hand for guests and for ourselves, how many utensils should be in our drawers, and what food we truly need around cluttering up our cabinets. Maybe it’ll be therapeutic, who knows?

So, the only way that “schedule” really fits into this “finding peace in the home” concept is that we need to better schedule our “to dos” to actually, um, y’know…get them done! 😉 The goal is to remember to keep the peacefulness of our lives while working on these projects and focusing on our future, and to make sure that the monkey doesn’t get his routine too knocked out of whack.

What about you? What “peace” do you hope to achieve in your own lives? How are you hoping to achieve it? Feel free to post a link to your blog (if you have one), or just share in the comments.

 

TThisWednesday, April 16: Peace in the Home

This can encompass home decor, fashion, organizing and decluttering, schedule and routine, etc. Whatever needs to happen in your life in order to restore peace and equilibrium will be represented during this week!

Wednesday, April 23: Taking Some R&R

This week we’ll dive into taking time to pamper ourselves, time to fully relax, putting aside the to-do list, etc. We will recognize that we need to find healthy ways of treating ourselves so that we aren’t tempted to bad habits that ultimately harm us (i.e. emotional eating of sugar, etc.)
– See more at: http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2014/03/embracing-self-care-community-blogging-project.html#sthash.aWSSQQGz.dpuf