Wednesday, January 10, 2018

64 My Five Favorite Ways to Organize Room-by-Room

Well, you guys! You did it! You made me cry the happiest tears I have cried in a very long time. I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support you all showed me after my last post. I am still making my way through all of the emails and comments and letting every word soak in. So. Much. Good. And so many new ideas and thoughts that spurred from our conversations in the comment section! I looooved it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today I was invited to host a blog hop surrounding my favorite subject of all time: ORGANIZING! I mentioned I wanted to do more connecting and sharing this year, and this was the perfect way to dive right in!

I am joining a group of lovely ladies, and each of us was asked to share our favorite organizing tip for five different rooms in our homes. I absolutely can't wait to check out all of the other blogs and pick up a few new ideas for myself! You all can follow along with my fellow friends below:

I will admit, I had a hard time narrowing each room down to one tip, but this was a really good exercise for me and really got me thinking. So, I picked what I thought were ideas that made a big impact on my day-to-day life, were easy enough that most anyone could implement and were budget friendly. Some of these might look familiar, or seem obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be spoken.

This was the hardest room for me to narrow down. I could have talked about how to date pantry items and leftovers or how to best layout your kitchen or why I think lazy susans are amazing or what to store under your kitchen sink or how I meal plan. I had so many ideas it inspired another post or two for the near future. That said, I decided to focus on a product I use in almost every area of my kitchen (and home). My number one tip for organizing in the kitchen is to use my absolute all-time favorite bins, the multi-purpose bin, to organize everything.

I have bragged about these bins to the moon and back and I still pick up a couple more every time I visit The Container Store. I love their price, but more importantly, their versatility, especially in the kitchen. These bins come in a variety of widths, are easy to clean, are translucent, are lightweight and have handles. Here are a few ways you can use these bins to whip your kitchen into organized shape:

  • In the fridge to create zones and kits. Think breakfast items and yogurts, lunch making supplies, produce, snacks, baggies containing treats and leftovers. 
  • In the pantry for dividing out produce, breads, spreads, chips, wraps...
  • In a cabinet to hold paper products.
  • Under the kitchen sink to corral cleaning supplies.
  • In a cabinet to hold clean rags and dish towels.
  • In a cabinet to store medications and vitamins. 
  • In deep drawers to file and divide specific gadgets, utensils, and lids.
  • On a nearby counter or shelf to corral daily mail and papers.

This is one that may seem obvious to most when I say, "create an inbox!". But friends, you really need an inbox!

Not all inboxes are created equal and it also helps to have a plan that correlates with your bin. The plan is just as important as the inbox itself.

I placed an oversized paper tray on my desk. I love this particular option because it is a little longer and wider than traditional letter trays. It also has stacking components as you can see above, so I can keep a few other desk goodies nearby without taking up all of my usable workspace. Lastly, I keep it in the most accessible location in my office, so I can easily add things to it throughout the week and also quickly work on it when the time comes.

As the week goes on, anything that enters the house that requires my attention or an action goes into my inbox. That might include a catalog I want to look at, a form I need to sign, scan and email, an address I need to log into my address book, Christmas cards I need to file away, receipts I need to expense, return labels I have printed, dates I need to add to my planner, etc... A lot of times these things are thrown at me and I can't give them my immediate attention, but I want them in a single place so if I need them at any point during the week, I know where to look.

The reason why the width of the tray is important is that it also fits a standard file folder. That allows me to add a specific place to put any bills or invoices that need to be paid. I like to keep those items separate as Bryan and I do our budget together and I never want to misplace any of our financial documents.

So, part one is to have a single drop zone place for all of the things to do. Part two is to actually do those things! I block 30 minutes on my calendar each week to go through my inbox and clear it out. It is a reminder that chimes on my phone and also a reoccurring task on my weekly list. I don't typically need that much time but I like to have it blocked just in case.

This one is easy peasy. Do you ever go to grab a set of sheets and part of the set is missing? Do you struggle with nicely folding those awful fitted sheets? Or have piles of sheets toppling over in your linen closet?

You know those inexpensive mesh laundry sacks generally intended for washing delicate clothes? Well, they also work great for corralling your individual sets of sheets. Just fold the sheets the best you can, tuck them inside a zippered sack and add a lavender dryer or sachet sheet for good measure. It keeps all of the set pieces together and smelling nice.

Also, people ask me all of the time why our "linen" or hallways closet doesn't actually have many linens stored in it. The answer is because I store most of our linens in the actual room they belong in. Each bedroom has two sets of sheets, one on the bed and a backup set. Same for bathrooms, one clean towel on the hook, one back-up. The mesh sacks store nicely in a bedroom drawer, in a bin or up on a closet shelf.

No surprise, my favorite bin is making another appearance!

In the bathroom, I always recommend adding a cleaning kit under the sink. Bathrooms are gross, germy, grimy places, and no one wants to run all the way to the kitchen for cleaners on a frequent basis; keeping some essentials in each bathroom encourages frequent wipe downs.

Under each of our bathroom sinks I have added a couple of bins to hold the following:

  • Lidded toilet brush
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Multi-surface cleaning spray (homemade recipe found here)
  • Shower scrub brush with cleaner added to the handle (homemade recipe found here)
  • Sink & grout brush
  • Trash can bags
  • Magic erasers
  • Cleaning rags

I try my best to quickly wipe down each bathroom each day. A quick pass over the mirror, down to the faucet and then around the counter (all with the same spray). The scrub brush quickly removes any makeup or toothpaste from the sink. I also try to use the shower scrubber on the walls of the shower every day or two to prevent soap build-up.

I add enough clean rags to the bin each week to get me through seven days of wipe downs, and after each cleaning, the dirty rag is tossed into a separate bin until wash day. I purchased the rags in bulk so I can do this for each bathroom, and at the end of the week they are all washed together in their own load. 

Speaking of washing laundry, let's chat about that next! I made a rule for the family awhile back that I wouldn't allow any dirty clothes to be left in the laundry room, with the exception of special wash items. Each bedroom has a hamper and each person has a specific day of the week to do their own wash. Sundays are for rags, delicate items and linens. 

On their specific day, a family member will take their hamper of dirty clothes and any empty hangers to the laundry room and do their laundry. Clothes are folded and put on hangers directly from the washer or dryer and brought right back to their rooms.

Taking away community hampers was an instant win for us! No more mixed socks or arguments over who should do laundry and when. Or what clothes belong to which kid. No more finger pointing at one another over shrinking sweaters and mixing colors. I will never say that I love doing laundry, but these quick tips have really helped us all with sanity and accountability! 


Thanks again everyone! I hope one or some of these tips are helpful and easy enough for you to give a whirl. Don't forget to check out the other posts below for even more around-the-house organizational tips:

Friday, January 5, 2018

293 A Warm Welcome to 2018!

Well hello everyone! It sure has been awhile! I hope that your 2018 is off to an amazing start and that you had a very warm and fulfilling holiday season. I have missed you all so very much!

My sweet boys returned to school this week and the house is so quiet now, maybe even too quiet. I am definitely ready for our "normal" routine to set back in but I am also really missing their sounds and spats and smiles and having them home with me during the day.

Although I haven't been online much, I have been writing this post in my head for days, weeks, even months. I honestly don't know where it will go, I just plan to let my feelings flow through my fingertips, so hang on for a little ride on my roller coaster of thoughts.

I didn't really plan to take such a long break. But it happened for a culmination of reasons; including some unexpected health concerns and out of town doctor visits with one of our boys, three months of lost planner work (and then re-creating all of that work in a few weeks time), and then the general craziness that comes with the holidays. I blinked and December was gone and so was 2017. Which I am more than OK with. I couldn't be more ready to start this new year with fresh perspective and motivation. 2017 wasn't my best or my favorite. Our son is OK, but watching him go through days of testing leading into the holidays weighed on me quite a bit and ultimately led me to crave a bit of an online break and some extra time with my family.

With that, I have been so grateful and overwhelmed by the number of you who have reached out to me personally through email, DM's and comments to check in on us. Living a life online can be such a tricky thing, it can get to me after awhile but I also miss you all whenever I step away to breathe. So thank you to each of you who have messaged me, your support and kindness have been so appreciated and have completely blown me away. I am still working my way through the notes and replying directly to everyone. ♥ 

So, with everything going on behind the scenes, this year I decided to pass on the gift guides and putting together a Christmas home tour. In fact, my Christmas decorating was almost identical to last year, which you can check out here. Keeping it simple and the same allowed for me to really soak in what Christmas is all about. December is also my busiest month in my Etsy shop, which can really clash with projecting and decorating and trying to do it all and be it all. So this year was the year of less stuff and less decorating and less sharing online. Taking some extra time off also allowed me to begin designing new items for my Etsy shop and consulting with some clients, both of which were very refreshing and so good for my soul.

I also did a little reflecting and really tried to figure out how to re-light that fire and get my blogging mojo back. Blogging was once my personal therapy and now there are moments that I think it will be what actually puts me into therapy. Ha! OK, so that is a bit dramatic, but I did have some mixed feelings about it all this past year. Blogging has evolved and changed in some really great and amazing ways, but also in ways that I haven't been able to quickly and openly adjust to. I am sure many of you could guess that my long-time loves of cleaning, planning, and organizing are my personal ways of working through deeper rooted messy life issues. And when I found blogs and started writing, it was a whole new world for me. And really, I was the happiest I had been in years. Not only was it friendly and imperfect and raw and real, there was this amazing community that was all about conversation and relationship building and I connected with folks that were just like me. And I felt like I was using my passion for good and readers were feeling excited and inspired and motivated. That was everything. I felt like I was making new friends with similar passions and relating with folks all over the world. It was normal for posts to have 100+ comments, multiple times per week and I loved the feeling of hitting the publish button.

But with the evolution of blogging and social media came growth, sponsorships, a bazillion new blogs, Pinterest and Instagram and swiping and the need to be on every platform. Suddenly it felt like our stories were lost and everything was shifting to pretty editorial pictures and pageviews and highlight reels. Comments turned into Pins and Likes and Hearts and conversation shifted and in some ways dissipated completely. The lines of real life and online life were suddenly blurred. I lost that personal connection with many of my longtime readers and at the same time felt the pressure to push frequent content and keep up. Checking blogs, Instagram and Pinterest only left me feeling visually and mentally overstimulated and inadequate. I rushed rooms and projects to provide consistent and frequent content but didn't always love the outcome of those updates and had to live with those repercussions. I am not a designer or decorator and just like working on our home as a hobby so I make mistakes and have to try things and play with things before getting them just right. That is just my process, but being in a pool of really amazing and talented peers that seem to have a knack for getting it right all of the time, has made me feel a little inferior even. So true what they say about comparison being the thief of joy, right?

Instead of being my own worst critic, I really want to be better about sharing more of those thoughts and the process of getting something from point A to B, what we tried that didn't work and what it took to get it to a point of working. I think that can be glossed over too often online for fear of looking unprofessional or unqualified (I know I am guilty of this too), and I want to share more of those mistakes and lessons learned. If anything, I am reminding myself that my mistakes can prevent others from doing the same thing!

At the same time, as much as I truly enjoy being creative and working on our home, that creativity doesn't come in constant waves. It ebbs and flows and some days I am totally inspired and having lightbulb moments and other days I sit with my head in my hands hitting roadblocks and walls. Sometimes I just want to take a break from DIY'ing and working on our home and constantly changing things, and sometimes I want to attack all of our spaces with gusto and vigor. That's my reality. But that can also cause some challenges for me as a blogger trying to create consistent content.

So before this post turns into any more of a sulk snowball, I am going to acknowledge that these feelings have been weighing heavy on my heart for too long now and that I have to find a way off of the emotional hamster wheel. Here are a few of my thoughts going into 2018, and a few questions for you all as well:

  • Conversation and Connecting: Conversation is what I seem to miss the most when I think back to the way things used to be. Most of the time I feel like I am talking to myself and that can be discouraging when I spend hours/days on a single post. How can I connect with you all more? I often throw a question or two at the end of my posts to try and keep the conversation going, but maybe they don't feel authentic (even though they are!). Do you have interest in chatting with bloggers or do you like to read and move on? What types of posts compel you to comment? Do you have any interest in some sort of live online Q&A or Twitter Chat? Do you prefer to communicate and comment more on other social channels vs. directly on a blog post?

  • Content: I organize and we DIY but what type of posts and content would you like in-between? I am generally not a fluffy content creator, I like to create meaty content inspired by real-life happenings and thoughts. Bryan works full time (and coaches and has a small side business) which means that he isn't able to project around the clock with me like some other DIY duos. It's just a personal choice not to put all of our eggs into a single basket. That said, our favorite way to spend time together is tackling home projects (sipping margaritas on a tropical beach is a close second), but we do have some schedule limitations (and sleep) to consider. I also run an online shop and work with friends, family, and clients, so, there are times when I just don't have new home content to share. What types of in-between posts do you enjoy reading

  • Organization: What are your biggest dilemmas and problem areas? I could seriously talk organizing all day every day. What is on your list to tackle this year?

  • Home Updates: I have found that I like slow. I didn't make a lot of changes last year and living with things really allowed me to have some clarity. No office update? That's because it is pretty much exactly the same as the last time I talked about it. The boy's den? Basic, undesigned, but usable and also unchanged. The laundry room? Loving everything about it but putting the finishing touches around the beautiful floral wallpaper has been an utter nightmare and I am completely stuck. The thing is, I finally had an a-ha moment in terms of what I want to do with my office after using it for almost two years now. I am so glad I didn't spend much time or money on it initially and that I waited and used it and really narrowed down what I want and need this time around. Making over room after room just isn't for me. So if you are looking for that and quick room reveals, I am sorry. It causes me too much stress, money, and even embarrassment. I do want to keep sharing our updates big and small, and really want to resolve to be better about finishing what I start this next year (including finally updating our home tour page). I am really enjoying the process of building our home and spaces over time, one small change at a time!

  • Cleaning: I am planning to revisit the survey from last spring and touch on a few more of the hot topics that were discussed then. And I really want to try to offer easy and quick tips that don't overwhelm or discourage. Cleaning, in general, is dreadful to most, but is there one thing in particular that you just want more help with? Or a cleaning conundrum that you just can't figure out?

  • Challenges: Sometimes a good challenge really lights a necessary fire. I want to do a large decluttering/simplifying challenge this year that focusses solely on living with less and create tools to help you all feel excited to declutter your dwelling, and just as importantly, talk about where those things should go when they leave your home. This is the biggest and most important step in any organizing project, and really deserves a lot of focus and discussion. Are there any other topics that would help give you a push to accomplish something? Maybe try a new power tool? Or a new technique?

  • Celebrating this Community: I am so proud of what I see others accomplishing and tackling, and sincerely appreciate the spaces that you all share with me via email and on Instagram. Truly. This year I hope to build new relationships and uplift and celebrate all of the good happening in all of our homes and lives. We all have so much to learn from one another and you readers and fellow bloggers have taught me so many life-altering things! It would be great to highlight those spaces, projects, and tips more frequently.

  • Splitting Time: My business has a lot of moving parts and opportunities which is one of the things I love most about it! I really appreciate the diversity and that I always have things to keep me busy, but it can be a challenge at times to juggle it all and do all the different things well. If I am all in and blogging a few days per week, then I can't give my all to my shop or to helping others. Working on my shop is a really nice creative break from social media while providing me with a good portion of my income, and quite frankly, there is nothing I enjoy more than helping others organize their homes. So just know that if I am quiet for bits of time here and there, that is because I am focussing on the other arms of my business during my set business hours. Sometimes those things pull me unexpectedly in different directions, but I will always come back to this hub that I call home.

  • It's Time to Take a Risk: These past few years my insecurities and fears have gotten the best of me, and I have been too scared to do anything risky or exciting. It is actually a little sad and frustrating to reflect back on all of the things I didn't do out of self-doubt. This year I want to push through that and do something out of my comfort zone. Even if it is just one freaking thing.

And some final housekeeping notes:

The only change that I did make to last year's Christmas decorating is I decided to try my hand at tree flocking and I was so pleased the outcome. I was able to use one of our artificial trees and give it a fresh new look without having to purchase a new expensive flocked tree. The flock made the tree appear a little fuller and much more magical. Even though Christmas is over, would you be interested in a quick post about the process?

I know many of you have been waiting and checking in for my 2018 Planner release and it hit my shop mid-December. There are three sizes and three different dated layouts for each size available, making it a little challenging to select a favorite to use this year! As with previous years, they are designed to be printed at home or through a local printing company. My office printer is on the fritz so I ordered my bound pages from Best Value Copy and the price and quality were really great (but their shipping rates, ouch!). I will be photographing it all soon so I can get my FAQ page updated with all of my favorite ways to use the color filled pages along with my current favorite planning tools.

A few years ago I shared our Christmas storage solutions and they are still working like a dream today. You can find all of those details in this post here.


And one more from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU to all of you who have stuck with me through it all. I know that there is so much good here in this community and I can't wait to hear your plans and goals for this year and what you would like to see more of here. We already have a few exciting projects at the top of our list just as soon as I pack up the last of the Christmas decor this weekend. Cheers to 2018!