Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Roundup: 2012 Planners

If you haven't noticed, 2012 is literally* just around the corner. If you're like me, it's hard to find the perfect planner, so I found a few functional and cute options from Etsy.

2012 Planner Printable from JudesDesigns

Speech Communication Textbook turned 2012 Planner from Second Edition

Satin Ribbon Woven Planner from Pria Vanda

* There is no way I'll ever be able to use that word without thinking of Rob Lowe on Parks & Rec! (Now for some eye candy and humor.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Roundup: Organizers Kids will Love (and Use!)

Keeping things organized in a visually pleasing, easy-to-understand way will help kids stay organized. Here are a few great organizing solutions for kids:
A shared boys closet from iHeart Organizing

In this closet (shared by two boys) Jen at iHeart Organizing put images on bins using her Silhouette so her littlest boy would know where things are.

Playroom lego storage from iHeart Organizing

Once again, Jen had a great idea when she used Ikea's trofast to organize her boys' legos. The boys decided to sort them by color. Jen made the labels with her Silhouette.

A well-styled and well-organized kids closet from HGTV

This closet is beautiful to look at, and I'm sure, to use. The bins at top can hold out of season clothes and hand me downs. The middle bins can hold items you use a bit more often than the clothes above it (diapers, wipes, creams, etc. would work well here). You can achieve this result by buying shelving and brackets from a home improvement store, the four-cube expedit from Ikea with the drawer inserts and bins (here and here). The bright bins on a neutral background make the closet look clean and crisp.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Raising Organized Kids

On a chilly fall afternoon, Claire and I walked into the house. She had her coat; I had my coat and purse. As she took off her coat, I asked if she could hand it to me.

"Nooo," she said in the drawn out whining way that's mostly cute but a little annoying.

Then she did what I thought was the most amazing thing. She walked to the coat tree and tried to hang up her coat. I was equally amazed and proud.

If I had a child-sized coat tree,
I wouldn't have this problem.
Coat tree found here.

That event got me thinking about how to raise an organized kid. Obviously, modeling good behavior is a start, but it isn't enough to build a strong foundation.

  • Making it easier to be organized is a good start. Claire knows she's supposed to hang up her coat, but without a hook low enough, she can't do it.
  • Making rules regarding toys will limit that big mess. Limit how many toys your kids have and clean them out routinely. Only allow them to play with one thing at a time and teach them to put it away before moving on to another toy.
  • Establish a good daily routine. Good sleep and a full belly will help your little one remember what to do. 
  • Have your kids do routine chores that can teach them why it's good to be organized. They might also be less likely to make a mess if they know they'll have to clean it up. 
  • Get kids involved with the process of organizing and organize the things they use in their own way. 
Claire's continuing to learn how to clean up and keep things organized. She has a lot to learn, but we'll work on it together.

Do you have any tips for raising organized kids?

On Wednesday I'll post some organizers kids will love to use.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Keep it Hidden

In this post I talked about how to prepare to not let toys take over your home. Concealed storage is an ideal way to make it seem like your kids' toys haven't overrun the house. It's an easy trick that will work even if you have an animal cracker zoo under the couch.

Here you go:

DIY Storage Ottoman from Soul Style

Large ottomans provide so much function and style to a room. They can be used to prop up your feet, store toys or blankets and serve food in a tray. 

 Small & Colorful Storage Ottomans from Design*Sponge

Not only is this nursery cute and colorful, but with the help of the small storage ottomans, it's also very calm. 

Great Accent Ottomans Under a Console from House of Turquoise

I love this setup for multiple reasons: 1) the ottomans provide storage and extra seating, 2) it's out of the way  and 3) it allows parents of young kids to display items that are out of reach! I also love this color combination. It's so vibrant!

an Ikea Expedit as Window Seat from Ikea Hackers

This Ikea hack (turning an Expedit on its side) is a great use of space. It also, of course, provides great storage underneath with the woven baskets. 

Ikea Expedit with Dresser Drawers from Cape 27

This Expedit uses two dresser double drawers and two dresser single drawers to provide storage as a dresser/changing table. This would be great in the living room to hide away toys and display some pretty, child-friendly pieces. 

Ikea Billy Bookcase with Cabinet Doors from Ikea

Last but not least are the Ikea Billy Bookcases with cabinet doors. A few of these would look great as a built in with decorative pieces and books on top and kids' toys on the bottom. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it provides several options (a little heavy on the ottomans I know). Do you have any other ways to conceal toys in general purpose living spaces?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Back Story on my Unorganized Home

I don't have an impressive story about why my home has never been organized. As stories go, it's rather boring, but, I suppose, it shows what happens when you just let things go.

In February of 2008 Nick and I moved into our house. At the time the basement was unfinished; the house had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and about 1400 finished square feet. The previous house was about 900 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom, but it also had some extra storage out back. A small storage shed and about half of a one and a half car garage were packed full of Nick's things.

Nick accepted an offer on the house in mid-January with closing at the end of February. We had to really speed up our home search, so we wouldn't be homeless come the end of February. We spent so much of our free time searching for a new house, that we had limited time to pack up the house and get rid of some things.

When we moved we rented the largest truck we could get from the local Budget office. We packed that full; then took several trips with our cars and a borrowed pickup. Nick had no idea how much stuff he had until we moved, but he wasn't in too much of a hurry to get rid of anything.

We unpacked once we were in the house, but we didn't really organize things. In fact, it took over a year for Nick to go through all of his things. Then I looked at what we had left and vaguely thought I should do something with it, so I shoved it in a closet and there it sat until recently.

Like I wrote, it's a pretty boring story, but it explains how we ended up with an unorganized house full of stuff we don't need and don't use.

Do you have an impressive story about why your home is organized or unorganized?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Planning an Organized Wedding

Three years and one month ago I married the man of my dreams. In honor of this rather odd anniversary, here are some planners to help keep things together:

The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner
from Amazon

The number one wedding website shares worksheets, checklists, etiquette calendars and answers to frequently asked questions. 

A Bride's Book
from Amazon

This book is an organizer, journal and keepsake. Jot down your memories as you plan for your special day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Prepare for a Stress-Free Holiday Celebration

On Monday I shared what I've learned are the most important parts of the holidays for me. After that revelation I knew it would be important to keep the stress level down in my home, so I came up with an action plan that will help.

Lists. I wrote lists of who to buy gifts for, what gifts to buy, what Christmas crafts I want to do and the materials I need for those projects. I then created a spreadsheet to check off my progress.

Christmas Cards. I'm going to mail my cards on December 1st, so I've added it to my planner. This means my cards will need to be designed and ordered by Monday. My address list should be up to date. If your list isn't, you should quickly get that done.

Deep Cleaning & Organizing. I'm deep cleaning and organizing as much as possible this month. Come December, basic cleaning should be enough to keep the house together. The time I save not cleaning will be used to get gifts ready and relax.

Decorating. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love to decorate. However, this year I'm going to be a little more relaxed about decorating. Instead of putting tons of lights up on my house, we're going to just wrap the porch railings. Inside I'll take a similarly restrained approach. (I'll also assess our need for the large amount of decorations I have.)

Next year I plan to use this post to remind myself to adequately prepare for another stress-free holiday. Also, throughout the year I'll write down gift ideas as I think of them.

My strategy boils down to planning, preparing and making time for myself. Do you have a holiday plan of attack?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Embracing the Best of the Holidays

It seems that each holiday season is always more stressful than the previous year. I put too much pressure on myself to make it memorable and better. It wasn't always like that. As a child it was so relaxing because there weren't any expectations. I've been thinking a lot about how to have a stress-free holiday as an adult.

When I think about my ideal celebration, I imagine a Cleaverish celebration. Snow falls softly all day long and a fire crackles by an immaculately decorated tree as my family and friends laugh, listen to Christmas music and sip cider.

But in reality, despite growing up in South Dakota, I don't specifically recall a Christmas with snow. It's not that we never had snow, we did (although there were a few dry Christmases). Snow just wasn't the most memorable part, and we didn't even have a fireplace.

What I do remember is spending a snow-less Christmas in Arizona with my grandparents. (It was my Grandpa Jack's last.) I remember my cousins, brothers and I sorting all of our presents under the tree. (The next day they were mixed together again.)

The perfect Christmas of my daydreams isn't the one my memories are made of; it's something much better. It's memories of my family, and if I remember that, my holidays will be less stressful. It's not about lowering my expectations. It's about realizing what makes me happy, and stress isn't one of those things.

On Wednesday I'll have a more concrete post on how to prepare for the holidays.

Friday, November 4, 2011

October Accomplishments

October has been a busy month, but not so with the blog or organizing projects.

During this month:
  • I've had the opportunity to spend two nights and three days in the most expensive "hotel" I've ever been to--the hospital. The food sucked and the bed was lumpy.
  • On a much more exciting note, Nick and I celebrated our third anniversary on the Mayan Riviera at the same resort where we honeymooned.
  • Nick, Claire and I spend two weekends visiting my parents. Nick got to hunt, Claire got to play with Grandma and I got a little work done.
  • I've worked on (but not finished) several organizing projects around the house. Planning the space, searching for the right materials and finding the time to do the work is a little difficult.
  • I made a Christmas gift and project list. I'll share some of that on Monday in a post about planning for the holidays.
This month has been stressful and expensive, so I plan to spend November being mindful of everything I'm thankful for. (That and doing a lot of organizing!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Well-Organized Family Room

On Monday I shared my dirty little secret, which wasn't scandalous at all but something I'm a bit embarrassed about. The most commonly used room in the basement that Nick and I are anxiously waiting to use again is our family room. Because we'll need to reorganize Claire's toys when we move back downstairs, I've been researching organized family rooms on Pinterest. Here are my favorites:

Our family room already has a built-in entertainment center and bar that will really help us organize everything. Because the storage is built in and lined on one wall, this room looks so calm.

I love the built ins surrounding the fireplace. It really brings purpose to the fireplace and TV, while it provides storage and minimizes the impact of the TV. This is an ideal solution when a TV has to be above a fireplace, but based on the height of the fireplace, this isn't an ideal place for the TV if one has options. It seems as if TV watchers would have kinks in their necks. The combination of open shelving and closed cabinets and drawers make the side functional and beautiful.

This built-in window seat would be the perfect addition to a family room that could use a bit more seating and storage and a lot more personality.

We don't plan to add or upgrade our family room, but it's always fun looking at inspiration for my dream family room. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Dirty Little Secret

...isn't as bad as you might think. My dirty little secret is a bit mundane, but it's still annoying to me. It's our main floor guest bedroom.

After our basement began getting wet in May, we brought some things upstairs and moved others to dry spots in the basement. As the summer went along, I kept stuffing things in the room. It got to the point where I couldn't walk into the room, so I spent a couple hours over the weekend cleaning it up. 

But it'll be getting worse soon because we're getting ready to put the basement back together. Rather than moving things back and forth, we're going to move the small things upstairs. I'll do my best to stack things and maintain a walkway, but it's not going to be pretty.

After dealing with a wet basement the last two years, I have a little advice to share:
  1. After the flood, go through everything. Toss, donate or sell everything that isn't a keeper. 
  2. Move the leftovers to a dry room. If you don't have a dry spot, I recommend renting a storage unit, but keep in mind your time line and the cost. Also, if you can live without it for more than six months, do you really need it?
  3. As the work in your basement is underway, consider where you'll put everything when it's finished. Now is a good time to change the layout or use of the space. Research the furniture and organizing supplies you'll need. If you have room, purchase small items, particularly decorative storage boxes and start reorganizing. It'll make transitioning back to the damaged rooms much easier!
Have you had to deal with damage to a part of your home? Any advice on how to handle it?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reimagining Rooms

I'm really into people reimagining a traditional or common layout and adjusting it to suit their own needs. This isn't remodeling; it's deciding if a room's intended use is appropriate for you or not.

Let's face it, most homes being built today are pretty generic, and they usually have a standard layout. There's no reason that we have to use a room a specific way because that's how it was built, or for that matter, why decorate a room that you won't use?

(Hello, formal dining rooms, I'm talking to you!)

One great, and probably very recognizable example is Young House Love's use of a dining room as an office and the formal living room as a dining room. An unused formal dining room could also turn into a great and handy playroom.

I really like this idea because it shows how people are breaking away from traditions that dictate how we should use our own things. These people are making the home their own. While I do think of myself as pretty traditional, my home needs to suit my needs, not the needs of the person who designed it!

Have you reimagined a room? What did you do?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pantries and More Pantries

I have pantries on my mind right now. My pantry needs a little work to make it more functional. With that need in mind, I searched for some (realistic) pantry inspiration. Below are some great pantries with clever storage tricks.

This is a beautiful pantry; the type of pantry I'd like to hang out in. The bright color is so cheeful and welcoming and I love, love, LOVE the cake pedastal collection she has on display. The drawers at the bottom provide an ingenious place to store the smaller, not as pretty items. (View more amazing pictures of this pantry here.)

A cheerful print on the back echoes the colors of the labels and the calendar on the door. Using tall, square-bottomed storage containers for staples makes the items more visible, makes the most of space and provides stackability.

The rack on the door not only provides a handy-spot for small or frequently used items, but also takes advantage of the dead spot between the door and the shelves.

Hopefully this pantry eye candy has inspired you a little. I definitely have a few ideas for solutions in my pantry. But I have to say, I'm going entirely for function and not for pretty right now.

Do you have any clever pantry storage ideas? I've seen a few others on Pinterest that I might take advantage of.

P.S. I proofed this post several times just to make sure I typed the 'r' in pantry. There may still be a few panties in the post. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why it Pays to Not Get Behind

The title sounds a little scary, but this isn't too scary, I promise. It would be a whole lot scarier if I showed you my to-do list or, worse, my house. As I mentioned last week, the end of September and beginning of October were busy in planned an unplanned ways. Because I spent an unplanned week sick and unable to clean much, my house became more than a little messy. Once I'd gotten out of the hospital, I had two nights after work to pack for vacation. Then, Nick and I got sick last Friday and had to rest most of the weekend.

I was already behind on projects I wanted to finish or start at the end of September, including my hall closet, pantry and Claire's Halloween costume. Now, I'll have to work double time to get caught back up and start some big and necessary projects, all with Christmas right around the corner and presents to buy or make. The obvious conclusion I've made is that if I hadn't been behind when I got sick at the end of September, it wouldn't be quite as bad right now.

So the lesson I've learned is to not procrastinate on cleaning, organizing or other projects I want to do. I need to make the time to finish the things I need to. Tonight I need to do the laundry and sew the top and bottom seam on Claire's poodle skirt for Halloween. I should also be able to trace and cut out the poodle decal. Tomorrow we have a play date and dinner with friends, so I won't be able to get anything extra done. But Wednesday, it's on, again! I'll finish her costume and laundry. Thursday night I'll begin to plan my projects for the upcoming holidays. The weekend will be spent at my parent's house. One good part about that, besides spending time with my parents, is that we're already packed because we planned to visit last weekend before getting too sick!

I hope everyone has a productive week. I'll be back on Wednesday and Friday with more posts.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Amazing Master Closet Inspiration

Today I wanted to share a few jealousy-inducing closets. Not to make you jealous, but to hopefully inspire you to create the master closet of your dreams. While most of us can't afford to have these closets custom-made by an expert, they offer unique storage that could be DIYed.

Here we go...

This wonderful closet has custom slots for shoes, but the best part of that back wall are the slots for boots. Stored together with walls to lean on, the boots keep their shape. Also, the island in the center appears to have a glass top that could reveal jewelry stored below.

Having lots of doors and drawers keeps this closet from looking chaotic. I really like the floor-to-ceiling cabinets. They really make the most of the storage space available. The cheap version would be floor-to-ceiling shelves with baskets to hide the contents. The ottoman also looks like a comfy place to plan outfits and put on your shoes.

Another creative use of an island; this time for shoes. In the background there are also a stack of small drawers. This would be ideal for undergarments. Sorting by type would make finding what you need a breeze.

What features do you find most appealing in inspirational closets? Could you imagine having as many shoes as the women in pictures one and three have? I don't think I could. I hate having things that I don't use. It makes me feel as if I've wasted money.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Start Small; Finish Big

If there's one tip I can pass along that will lead you to organized bliss, it's this: Start small.

Like most people, you probably have a jam-packed schedule and very little time to spare. You probably realize how much you need to get organized, but you don't know where to start. And you just ignore it or shove it in the closet. So, I recommend that you start small.

Just organize one drawer or one shelf a day. Move from room to room as you desire. You won't see major progress, but you'll see some. Best of all, you won't have unfinished projects but a series of finished, organized projects. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tip: Use Drop Spots to Stay Organized

Well, after an unplanned hiatus, I'm back. I spent one week at home with pneumonia, followed by two days in the hospital, two days back at work and six days in Mexico for my anniversary trip. I have plenty of great stuff lined up to post, so  you can expect regular posts.

Today I just wanted to share a quick tip on how to maintain your organized home. Maintenance is so important after you've spent hours getting your home organized. To keep it that way, use drop spots throughout your house. A drop spot is a basket or bin to place items that don't belong in that room. When the drop spot gets full, pick it up and take the items to their home. It couldn't be easier to maintain your clean, organized home.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Let the 3 Rs Help with your Organizing Efforts

Organizing your home and being environmentally friendly can easily go hand-in-hand. Here's how:


Stop bringing items into your home. Think twice before buying everything. How will you use it? Is it worth taking up space in your home? If you have everything organized you'll also avoid buying duplicates.


Look around you and think of a way you can reuse items rather than throw them out. If you can't reuse it, donate it or give it away. Wednesday's post about reimagining items provided some great ideas for reusing common things.


Get the clutter out of your house. Find a new home or recycle it following your city's guidelines.

Are there any other ways being green and organized can go hand in hand?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roundup: Reimagining Items

Upcycling, reusing, reimagining, whatever you call it, it's a great, inexpensive and green way to customize the storage in your home. I'm not very good at this, but in my efforts to use what I have, I've been looking for inspiration online. As it turns out, there are a lot of people who have great imaginations when it comes to reimagining.

So, without further ado, a roundup of reimagined organizational pieces and links:
A tea box from an old book that could be used to store any little item 
stylishly--remotes, lotion, fingernail clippers, and so much more!
For jotting down to do lists or entertaining your kids.

What a great ribbon organizer! If you don't like the look of the box, 
a wrapping paper or colored contact paper scrap could cover it up. 
A handy little desk organizing caddy made from PVC pipe. 
This would be a great project if you have PVC leftover from a bathroom remodel. 
Like many people, I'm into a bit of rustic decor, this would be a great coat hanger. 
Have you upcycled, reused or reimagined something? Any tips or ideas to share?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Preventing Toy Seepage, Episode I: Start from the Beginning

Ah, toy seepage, the gradual--or sudden--flow of toys into your previous adult spaces. It's annoying. The best way to prevent it is to not allow your children to have toys. But that's not practical, realistic or reasonable. The best practical, realistic and reasonable way to handle it is to start from the beginning, before you bring your bundle of joy home from the hospital.

So, what are you to do to prevent this? Here's a gameplan:
  • Determine the amount of space you have for toys. Be realistic. Unless you're die-hard minimalists, you'll need more than one tiny bin or shelf.  
  • Try to explain your situation to loved ones when they ask what you need. Explain that you have only limited space for the baby's toys. Point them to your registry or tell them gift cards are always welcome. I shouldn't have to say this, but I will. Always be gracious when you receive a gift, even if it's too big and you explained your limitations. Afterall, God invented customer service so we can make returns. (OK. He really didn't, but sometimes good customer service seems like a gift from God.)
  • Pick out concealed storage pieces that are functional and beautiful. I'll round up some of my current favorites next month.
  • When your little bundle of joy begins to play with her toys, pick them up as she goes and routinely clean them out.
This gameplan is a little simplistic, but you should be able to tailor it to your needs.

What toy storage strategies have you developed?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Returning to Normal after Vacation

Vacations are one of my favorite things; until we get home to unpack and attempt to settle into our routine. It ruins the relaxed, calm feeling I get from being away from my everyday.

 Ahh, the beach on vacation. 
Is there anything better?

Nick, Claire and I recently returned from a week long vacation. It was relaxing but still very tiring. (Visiting non-toddler-proofed homes makes me so thankful for gates on stairs and locks on cabinets!)

Although Nick enjoys vacations, he always stresses about the projects waiting for us when we get home. This vacation was no different, so we've decided our basement family room needs to be put back together before going on our anniversary trip. This will help us transition back to normal, but it won't solve everything.

Other ways we'll make the transition easier include:

  • Don't over pack. Over packing makes more unpacking work. 
  • Separate dirty from clean laundry when packing to come home. Take your dirty laundry directly to the washing machine when you return. Better yet, if you can, wash some of your clothing while on vacation before your pile builds up. 
  • Plan to have a free day upon your return to unpack, wash laundry, grocery shop and unwind (hopefully!). 
 Do you have any other strategies to continue the relaxed feeling post vacation? 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How One Misplaced Item (or a Bunch) Can Ruin it All

OK, so my post's title is a little dramatic, but many of us have had those times when one thing has thrown our entire schedule or home out of whack. Erin Doland at Unclutterer named it so well: the Keystone Demise. In architecture the keystone is the center stone of an arch that holds the arch together.
While explaining this concept to my husband, I pointed to the two main causes of our keystone demise: cute, lovable Claire and our wet basement. (If you read that like I did, cute, lovable Claire was upbeat and happy but wet basement was neither and followed by a "whop whop whop" sound like when people fail on a game show.) While neither is as minor as the triggers Doland refers to, my things have greatly contributed to our disorganization. (And we've had plenty of those minor things that have thrown what little routine and organization we have out of whack. They're just really minor in our grand scheme of things.)

In May 2010, when cute, lovable Claire was just shy of two months old, we had a flash flood that caused water to pour into one of our basement windows. I was fortunate to have my parents and younger brother visiting, so with Nick at work and Mom watching Claire, Dad, Eric and I set to work clearing the office and bar and bailing as much water as possible. 

We were left with soggy carpets, a relatively unusable basement and a jam packed upstairs guest bedroom.  I was basically camped out in the master bedroom with Claire anyway, so it didn't really impact my routine. 

But that's mainly because my routine was fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-figure-out-how-to-be-a-mother. Yes, that's right, everything was already up in the air and disorganized (and my routines have complex dashed titles). 

(I just had to pause and take a deep breath. Just writing this is giving me anxiety.) 

We got the basement back together, but never completely organized and finished. Claire has grown a lot, but we're still taking it day by day with her. Then in early May it began to rain and it didn't really stop until the end of June with intermittent downpours and showers in July and August. And we've found ourselves in the same place again with a damp, disorganized basement and a cluttered upstairs guest bedroom.

(Here, guest, whom I love enough to host in my home, just step over that pile,
leap the next pile and from there you should be able to jump into bed.)

So, a number of things have led to a state of chronic disorganization in my home. (It's been over a year! I consider that chronic.) It has to stop. We have to get everything back together. My sanity is at stake here. Throughout the fall, and undoubtedly into the winter, we'll work to get everything back together and finished. As I go, I'll share my solutions and tips to an organized, usable and, most importantly, a finished basement.

Have you had a similar case of chronic disorganization? What set it off? How did you resolve it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Green Dishwashing Failure

One of my goals is to reduce the chemicals in our house. I'm starting with our cleaning products. After using the last of our chemical-laden Cascade, I decided to try a green detergent made of borax, washing soda and baking soda. The results left a lot to be desired. My dishes were coated with a nice layer of white residue. I attempted to rerun the load with less detergent, but it didn't solve the problem. I had to hand scrub the entire load, taking so much more time than if they were just dirty from use.

I know our hard water with lovely orange staining abilities and lack of a water softener are to blame for the issue, but I'm still very frustrated about it. Here I am trying to do what I think is best for my family, and my failure is not welcome!

But I'm not giving up. I'll try just a few dishes with about half the amount of detergent. If it works, I'll be thrilled. If it doesn't, I won't have as much to hand wash, and I'll move on to another recipe.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A New Sewing Machine and the Possiblities

I just purchased a Singer sewing machine on clearance for 50% off. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I've been pining for a sewing machine for a while now, but I'd planned to wait until we move. The great price prompted me to buy it sooner than planned.

Suddenly, the world is alive with all the possibilities of sewing projects:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Executive for a Week

Lately my job has seemed more administrative than I'd like, and it's led to a lot of frustration for me. This week, though, has been the exact opposite. My boss picked the craziest week to go on vacation, and I'm loving it! I've been responsible for making marketing decisions all week. At first, I was really stressed and anxious. Now I'm really stressed and excited to see what I get to tackle next.

Two more days left...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rounding it Up and Acknowledging Your Accomplishments

Reading Young House Love today, I couldn't help but feel a little jealous of their accomplishments. They get a lot done in a month that us normal people can't quite do. The idea of a round up, though, can really help the rest of us see all of our accomplishments for the month or even the day.

As each month passes by too quickly, I really wonder if I'm making the most of my time to do everything I want to do. My to do list doesn't seem to get shorter, so a roundup would allow me to see everything I've accomplished, even if it's just fun things like taking Claire to the park or boating.

If each month passes too quickly, it's hard to describe the quick passage of days. Especially at work when I spend an entire day on one large project, it seems as if I never get much done, yet the projects I need to complete are done on time. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest a roundup at the end of the day for me or anyone else, but maybe a quick glance at check marks on my to do list or a smaller stack of paper can help me feel accomplished.

So, with that, a round up of July 2011 without pictures (I hope to get pictures up for future posts):
  • We celebrated the fourth of July with a long weekend, a day trip to a fish hatchery, a small BBQ at home, and viewing our neighbors' fireworks displays. We also finally bought a patio set.
  • Granparents visited the next weekend when we blew up Claire's pool for the first time. She liked splashing and wading in the water but wouldn't sit down (too cold!). 
  • The next weekend brought friends from out of town. We took Claire to a picnic in the park, and she enjoyed playing and watching other kids. Friday night and all day Sunday were spent at the lake on our new boat.
  • Last weekend was another busy one for us. We attended Nick's stepbrother's wedding reception where Claire danced the night away and met one of her step uncles for the first time. That Sunday was spent at another BBQ, and all of us enjoyed an early night in bed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things I Said I'd Never Do

Like most women pregnant for the first time, I knew I'd never do certain things. Like most first time moms, I've given in. One of those things I'd never do that I ended up doing was sleep training or cry it out.

I like to refer to it as sleep training; maybe that's me trying to make myself feel better or it just seems like a better explanation. Either way, after research, thought and discussion, Nick and I decided to give it a try with a few rules. We set a 20 minute crying limit, decided to only try it for a week and get her if the screaming became too horrible. 

Claire cried for just under 20 minutes the first night. I found that keeping busy really helped distract me from her crying. I finished washing the dishes and picked up the kitchen. By the time I was done, she was sleeping soundly. Over the next two nights sleep training went well, and Claire began to cry less. By night four, Claire was practically sleep trained.

Now, almost four months later, she's ready for bed by her bedtime and sleeps through the night. Starting at 8:00, I begin the countdown by telling Claire how many minutes she has until bedtime. Usually, right at 8:30 she walks up to me and puts her head down on my lap. When I ask her if she's ready to go to bed, she looks at me with the cutest, most earnest look and nods her head.

Sleep training worked for us, but it doesn't mean it will work for every kiddo, so do your research!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moving On

The decision to move wasn't an easy one to make. Sure, there are really good reasons for us to move--family, quality of life, career prospects, and more--but moving our family required more consideration than that. It required that we consider the advantages and disadvantages of moving our daughter.

Even though she'll be under two when we move, I believe it's important to consider the impact this move will have upon her. I know that leaving her daycare, home and family will be difficult, but here's how I've considered each of those:
  1. Daycare- Claire loves her daycare and her provider. I'm even going to be sad when we have to say goodbye, but Claire is very outgoing and adjusts to new things well. I think she'll enjoy making new friends. 
  2. Home- Claire really won't remember this home. I don't feel sad about leaving it even thought it's the home we brought her home to. I may tear up a little as we leave, but I don't think Claire will really know the difference. To help her adjust to her new space, her room will be the last packed and loaded onto the truck and the first unloaded and unpacked when we arrive. 
  3. Family- We are taking her away from Nick's family here, but we don't have a solid relationship with them. In fact, my older brother who lives nine hours away has seen Claire about as much as my in laws who live 15 minutes away. (As a side note, after having a child I realized I couldn't live somewhere without family, so that's played into our decision.)
So, there are a few of my thoughts on moving.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Get it on the Market

I have one hour and 45 minutes until Thursday, so I'm still getting this post done as promised. I'm really proud of myself for that.

My July and August goal is pretty simple: get projects done around the house to get it on the market. We hope to move to Minnesota by the end of the year. We'll see how that goes. We have so many projects left to finish and plenty of fun summer things to do.

Here's to getting things done and getting it on the market.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chaos after Visitors

Whew! We had a fun, relaxing weekend. My parents came for a visit. It'd been five weeks since we'd seen them, so we had a great time showing off what C can do and say. C got to wade in her blowup pool for the first time. She was so cute because she didn't want to sit down; she slipped onto her tush a couple times and quickly got back up. We definitely enjoyed their visit, but now we're left with a hangover of sorts.

When I have guests, I get a little lazy with housework because I want to enjoy their company and relax. My lax cleaning over the weekend coupled with the house not being really clean when they showed up have made for quite the to-do list this week.

What's on my to-do list you ask? Well, I need to clean all three bathrooms (the master is the dirtiest); wash dishes; wash, fold and put away laundry (our clean laundry covers our king-size bed); sweep the great room, especially under the couches; clean the kitchen and dining room and vacuum the rugs.

Hi, ho off to work I go. I have lots to do. I hope to be back on Wednesday with a post about my goals for the month.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why, hello there, blog!

After just a little time away from the blog, I've decided to come back regularly. I didn't really have a plan when I first started this blog at the end of December. It just seemed like the thing to do, so I did it. I've realized, though, that if I'm going to do something, I want to do it well.  I'm busy enough as it is, and I need to continuously redefine my priorities and goals to determine if I'm doing what I need to reach my goals and that I'm spending time doing what I enjoy. 

So, what are my goals for this little blog? My first and main reason for writing this blog is to just write. I've always loved writing, but don't spend any time besides work doing it. The only way to become a better writer is to write. That seems obvious, but it's something I haven't really done. My second goal is to get a better grasp on the concepts of social media and using them for promotion. As a 20-something-year-old marketer, this is something I really need to understand better than I do. I can't think of a better way than to write a blog and use other social media to promote it.

So, you can expect to see me around here two to three times a week sharing decorating, organizing, cooking, cleaning and family stories. Until I can find my niche, I plan to be a general lifestyle blogger.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Storage Wish List Roundup

Our house has been a disaster since we brought C home, but it wasn’t much better before she came along. With project after project, we’ve fallen into a rut of waiting until the whole house is finished before organizing other parts. Here are some inspiration items to get my house organized.
I really like the shape of this bench, but I'd prefer it in black. The bottom provides handy storage for shoes that are worn most frequently. This would work really well under a coat rack by my side door.

This would be ideal to put in my office closet for storage. I would probably need several, so I could store paper by color and type. I would also give printable labels and clear 3-ring sheet protectors there own slots. 

N and I have a lot of stuff in our garage. Well, actually, N has a lot of stuff in his garage. We have some shelves similar to this. It would be handy to line a couple walls with these to store paint, tools, car parts, etc.

River Ridge Kids 2-Piece Storage Bins (Aqua and Orange)
In a year or two, N and I plan to convert our guest room into C's and her future sibling's playroom.  The office will welcome the guest bed and serve a dual purpose. I have two of these bookshelves from Walmart in the office that would need to be moved so guests can get to the bed easier. I'd buy several of these bins and place them on about three or four similar bookshelves (repurposing the two from the office). (A little overhang from the bins won’t be a problem.)
I'll probably paint the bookshelves cream to match the trim in the room. Once screwed to the wall for support, they'll make an easy and inexpensive place to store toys. The little rope handles and cut outs look easy for little hands to pull. It would also be easy to attach a laminated label of the bins' contents. The aqua and orange colors are also really appealing to me and could serve as the inspiration for the room.  

The standard Billy Bookcase should be narrow enough to fit around the window in our office. Ideally, the queen guest bed would sit directly under the window flanked with Billy Bookcases. I’d probably paint these cream and trim them out to give them a more custom built-in look. The curtains will help disguise about an inch of empty wall between the bookcase and the window.

This leather bench would look great in our master bedroom under the window. It would provide a place to store extra blankets and pillows. Our decorative pillows could also sit on top overnight.
Lastly, I’m on the lookout for an armoire. N currently uses a rickety five-drawer chest in a corner with our TV over the top. Because the TV is attached to the wall, it looks a little too hospital like. I think replacing the dresser with a tall armoire would make it appear less like a hospital. We could also use the top shelves of the armoire to store blankets and pillows, and then we probably wouldn't need the bench.
Do you have any special organization items that work well for you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year's Resolution (NYR) Update: January 12th

To really hold myself accountable, I'll post an update to the monthly goals I set to help achieve my six basic resolutions. So far so good, I just finished the pregnancy scrapbook for C. I'm really proud of myself. I've been putting this off because I was so overwhelmed, but once I started I worked for two nights and now it's done.

It doesn't seem like much, but it's a step further than I was. This weekend I plan to pick up the rest of the supplies I need to etch the glass canister gifts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

My resolutions are not exciting, and they're definitely not new. They're just the same old generic ones everyone makes each year. What's a little different is that I'm going to try a new method to achieve them, though. Each month for resolutions 1 through, I'll create mini goals that will help me achieve the larger ones. In no particular order, here they are:
1. Work Out More I do want to lose my baby weight, but with my changing body shape, I'm not sure what my ideal weight is. To achieve this resolution, I plan to set a goal each month for the number of 30 minute workouts I do each week. In January I'll start with a goal of two. I plan to work my way up to five workouts a week.
2. Save More Money I intend to undergo a number of month-long spending freezes starting with this month. I'll also get back into meal planning and challenging myself to a month-long freezer cleanout and a pantry clean out.
3. Finish a Few Craft Projects I'll set monthly goals to finish certain projects. January I'll start with etching the canisters for by brother and sister-in-law's Christmas present (we celebrate with them in January). I'll also finish my pregnancy scrapbook. I'd love to be able to show that off at C's first birthday party in April.
4. Learn to be Satisfied with my Life I love N and C so much, but there are aspects of my life that I'm not satisfied with. This resolution will require the most baby steps. In January I'll asses what I need to do and sketch my plan of attack.
5. Get More Organized and Manage Time Better I'll start with small tasks to get organized and work my way up to larger projects. By the end of the year, I intend to have an organized life that allows me time to do what I want to do.  This month I'll finish organizing my office and restart meal planning.
6. Read More Frequently With the other resolutions underway, I think I can clear about 30 minutes a day to read. It's not a lot, but with some consistent reading time, I can knock out a few more books this year.
Stay tuned  as for status updates and new monthly goals at the end of each month. Heck, I'll probably add status updates throughout the month, too.