Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting your kids to behave and help. Willingly.

I absolutely loved this idea I saw on a friend's blog today. It incorporates those little tickets you can get pretty inexpensively at a party store. I'm going to try it in our home and hopefully it will help my little girl eat her meals, take her naps, and go to bed at night without complaint. Hopefully.

Ticket System

Great Site and Giveaway!

My friend sells awesome homemade items in a shop on Etsy. She is giving away a beautiful I Spy Quilt. I've never seen one of these before, but I love it. I can't believe I've never been to visit her shop (Simply Family) at Etsy until today. Her items are creative, useful, and adorable. Visit her shop here and visit the giveaway site (Crazy House) here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

From cluttered chaos to simple serenity

EMBARRASSMENT! I am humiliated to have you see how chaotic this looked before. I hated to go in the office, yet I spent so much time there. No wonder I'd get irritable. Who could feel anything but irritable with this cluttered chaos? To be honest, this picture isn't as bad as it looked by the time I actually started this organizing project. I think I took the picture a week before and I also think I had just "cleaned up" the office. Sad.

The challenge I did this project for was from The Organizing Junkie.


(Ironically, I was on Laura the Organizing Junkie's blog when I took the picture of my cluttered desk.) What you don't see is all of the usual paper clutter piled on the desk. I don't know what I had done with it, but it is usually there where the tiny paper pile is. I actually took this picture a while ago when I first wanted to organize the office. It looked way worse by the time I actually started this challenge. Paper piled EVERYWHERE on the desk.

Oh wait, maybe I stuffed the paper clutter into the closet! :)


I wish I had taken pictures of this before. I didn't think it was very unorganized before, so I didn't take a picture. I guess it wasn't bad compared to the rest of it, but it was unorganized and filled with some things I didn't really need. After purging and organizing what was left, I added labels. They have already made a big difference.

Challenge Questions

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part of this challenge for me was figuring out how to overcome my paper clutter. I am always drowning in it. I was able to incorporate a system of file folders Laura recommended on one of her blog posts. It was awesome. I had a file cabinet, and have used it for years, but I never had a great way of dealing with mail when I brought it in. I started using the system from orgjunkie's blog and it is wonderful, but the thing that makes or breaks it for me is using the designated time to go through the folders each week. On Thursdays during my kids nap/quiet time, I have designated time for office work. In other words, sifting through what is in the folders: paying bills, making calls, filing papers, shredding, etc. The great thing is that it’s not so bad now that it is in the folders instead of in a huge pile on the desk.

The second hardest part of the challenge for me was coming up with some decoration so that I would have something nice to look at that would make the room more inviting. It is so much easier to keep a room neat and tidy when you like how it looks. I finally figured out something that would be inexpensive, but look nice.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

The habits I have had to put into place I described above. I had to first come up with a method of organization for my paper clutter especially and then designate a time each week to go through the paper. For me, organizing my time is critical to keep my home organized. I got out of my routines and weekly schedule 18 months ago when I had a second baby. I have been flying by the seat of my pants ever since. I have been wanting to do this forever, but each time I start, I go back to the same old. This challenge really motivated me to finish the job entirely instead of just doing it half way. It also motivated me to rework my schedule so that I could figure in time for organizing and putting things away like I used to.
Another change I had to make was putting labels on everything. I have always liked using containers in my office closet, but I never labeled them—I usually labeled for moving and that was it. It has been so nice to be able to find things or ask my huband to get something and not have to describe where it is. We can both find things because they are labeled and the labels are easy to see.

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

I threw a lot away or recycled it. I also gave a lot to D.I. (a second-hand store). There was some great scrapbooking stuff I gave away, but I hadn’t used it in years and so I’m not likely to use it now. That was hard for me to do. I usually don’t consider myself a packrat, I’m usually pretty good at purging, but there are always a few things that are hard to get rid of. I really like Laura’s post on reasons we hold on to clutter.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?

I LOVE the little containers I got from IKEA to put my desk supplies in (above the printer). I was able to use the container they used to be in to house all the markers and pens we have. It was awesome. Besides their utility, they look attractive too. And with their clear lids, I can see exactly what is in them.

And I guess this isn’t for organization, but I love the clips I used to hold my pictures. The great thing is, the pictures will be easily changed out when I get other pictures I want to put up. All I did was put black cardstock on the back and then used binder clips to stand them up. I love how it turned out. (Sorry the pic is a little blurry.)

I also used some zip ties to help hold up the cords so they weren't strewn all over the wall in the back. We did buy something to hold the cords, but they couldn't all go in there because of where the cord had to be, but the zip ties held the rest together and made it look tidier. The only other thing I need to do now I put labels on each of the cords for what they go to. I thought of that at the last minute, so when my husband gets home, I'll be adding that too. See how much better it looks without the cords all over the back.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

I put so much effort into this challenge. Besides the organization itself (which was a big job that took many hours on many different days), I was also able to find a way to make the office more inviting using some very inexpensive items and other items I already had. It was quite daunting in the beginning, but I pushed through to the end to transform a room from cluttered chaos to simply serene.

From pantry pandemonium to mom's masterpiece

This is extremely embarrassing to put on the internet. I would never want anyone to see this when they visited our home. I always made sure the pantry door would never open. And now you can see why.



I am participating in a challenge on I love this blog. She does a FABULOUS job. I had decided to organize my pantry before I knew about the challenge, but I must admit that it was her blog that inspired me to start and then the challenge pushed me to finish. Here are the questions for the challenge.

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part of this challenge for me was simply getting started. I had been wanting to clean up this pantry forever, but I wilted each time I even thought about it. I am a little obsessive compulsive so once I start a project, I have a hard time focusing on anything else. So finding the time to do this project while the kids were busy doing other things was difficult. But I decided to just dive in one day while my daughter was having quiet time in her room and my son was sleeping. It was awful having to pull everything out and have it everywhere, but it became so liberating filling containers and then throwing the extras away or if it was food, putting it down in our larger food storage area in the basement.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

I have always had a hard time keeping my pantry organized. In the past, I blamed it on space. However, that was obviously not the problem since I now have a huge pantry (at least huge for me) and it is probably the most disorganized pantry I've ever kept. In the past when I've organized my pantry, I have basically just cleaned out the old food and straightened things up. I tried grouping things together, but that's about it. I decided that this time I would containerize more things and use labels designating containers and shelf space. Another problem with this pantry is that I use it to hold the many items I have for my toddler/preschooler activities. We recycle lots of items to play with. It may sound weird, but things like milk jugs and caps and cereal boxes can provide my young children with lots of fun.

The labels have helped immensely because not only do I see the space for the items, but so does my husband and anyone else who is over helping clean up cooking. I also love that I have a designated container for candy and snacks because they are small bags that just never stay organized if they're not contained.

I have also had to develop the habit of taking extra things down to the food storage area. I used to have several of the same item in the pantry, but now I just have one of each thing.

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

I threw away/recycled the "stuff" I purged--at least the extra egg cartons, milk cartons, bottles, lids, etc. after I had filled the containers for my kids' activities. As for the food, I donated the baby food to the Food Bank since I no longer have a child eating baby food. I threw away the old food and I put away the extra food into food storage in the basement.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?

I liked the boxes I found on clearance at WalMart while I was doing my organizing. They are meant for college/high school students to hold their stuff. But I thought they'd be perfect for my cook books. The shelves in my pantry are wire and so the cookbooks don't stay on them very well. The cubes helped solve that problem. They also provided an additional flat surface where I put my big pot and bowl. It is so much easier getting them out and putting them back because I don't have to stack other things on them or under them. I also looked for things that I already had and re-purposed some of my containers, such as the garbage can that is holding the taller items (kid activity items). That was great because it didn't cost me anything but it worked fabulously.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

Well, honestly, look at the before picture. Would you want to tackle that one? Maybe you would. But I really didn't. It was a huge undertaking for me to do it. Not only did I have to organize all that food, but I also had to go through all the "junk" that we recycled to use for kid activities. Although it was quite overwhelming at times, I stuck to my guns and got it finished. It has been a couple of weeks now and everything is still in place. The kids even like to go in there all the time just to get their activity things now that they can find them on their own. They love it.

I love how it turned out and not to sound pompous, but I think I deserve an A for the result. I actually enjoy going into my pantry now and I love to show it off when people come over.