{Home & Garden} Linen Storage Tips ~ GIVEAWAY!

I love the laundry tips that you have all been sharing over the past few weeks! Definitely a plus to being a part of Arm & Hammer’s Switch & Save Challenge! If you’ve missed any laundry room tips, you can find them both in the posts and comments, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE!

A couple recent ones that I thought were both cute & good ideas…

Miranda shared: “My favorite way to get my kids to help with the laundry is by showing her how to make bubbles out of laundry detergent as a reward for helping me do the laundry.”

{I have got to try this! It sounds so fun!}

Melissa shared: “My three year old LOVES to put the clothes in the washer and then press the buttons to start the washer and dryer!”

{I agree, Hayden loves this too, then when she’s not looking I hit the “child lock” button so she can’t undo anything or try to take anything out… you might end up with this on your hands…}

Continue reading “{Home & Garden} Linen Storage Tips ~ GIVEAWAY!”

Whatcha got hidden in YOUR dishes??

One of the toughest things for me to get used to once all the Littles joined us, was clutter. (Although lack of time and sleepless nights are pretty high up there too…). But my brain goes a little manic with clutter. I have always been able to deal with the craziness of life, if my room or “home base” was picked up and put together.

Yeaaaa, that doesn’t work so well with kids.

But unfortunately, you can’t change the way your brain is wired. So you adapt.

Tip for today is to find creative ways to make your life work for you, instead of driving you nutty.

We have open shelves in our kitchen. Love em. (Though not so much in the photo above when I realized things are a little out of place, but you’ll all look past that, wont you? Thanks!)

Those open shelves might hold a little more than dishes though…medicine, candy, keys. You really never know. And I kinda like it that way!

Take these little butter dishes for instance…

Let’s take a closer look…

Yep, that’s hair bands. I do Addie and Hay’s hair in the kitchen each morning. In fact, they sit right there on that counter since it puts them at a good height for me to wrangle their bowling ball heads, and they can watch cartoons for 2 seconds of distraction. But that also means I need a little brush…wonder where that is??

Oh look! Under the butter dish of hair bands is stamps! Well isn’t that handy? So when we have dinner and reward the girls with a hand stamp for taking bites ~ there are the stamps in the butter dish, perfect!

Speaking of butter dish, what’s behind that antique wooden box (used to shape butter way back when, that hubs says has no purpose now)….

Oh really??!  I think it might be hiding a little brush. And hair detangler, and nail clippers, and Aquaphor, and medicine….Good to know it’s nice and tucked away just where I need it.

And no one else is the wiser. Just the way me and my brain like it!

Where’s your favorite spot to hide everyday things?

Want to know about that hole in the wall?

So I kinda hinted to that hole in my wall a few posts ago.  It’s been fun.

Yep, fun.

Poor hubs, he really has tried to get this project completed and tied up in a neat little bow, but there’s this thing called life, and well, he has just not been able to give it all the time he had hoped he could. Bizarre to think this all started last Fall.

But now.

Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Could we really be within weeks of completion???

Because we are nearing the end, I thought I would give you a little teaser and show you a few favorite things we like to do.

This by the way has NOT been one of my favorite things. The floor is my worst enemy

But this is.

I like to put loads of electrical anywhere I think I may need it. In this case I DESPISE cords.  DESPISE is a kind word for what I actually feel.  LOATHE may be closer to the truth.  In our family room you only see a TV.  Hubs has all the equipment hidden in a hall closet and we connect to it with an RF remote control (Radio Frequency).  It’s a GREAT remote (it’s in the fave gallery), hubs installed it himself.  If you or your other half, brother, 10 year old child, or dad have any gadget love, you will be able to get this installed.  All this to mean no wires or cable for me.  In the new room, we are planning on hiding everything on the top shelf of the closet. So those 2 black holes? They are for 2 quad outlets for the equipment.

That black hole on the bottom right?  That’s a duplex outlet.  That is because hubs let Addie sing on a Karaoke machine at Costco, that she fell IN LOVE with.  So we thought it might make a fun Christmas present for the girls and a good addition to the room.  But the room is not large and the machine, well it’s not my favorite looking “toy”.  After we saw it, I immediately made a request to add an outlet in the closet thinking it was a PERFECT place to hide it, even in use. (Besides, the bathroom door will also have a mirror facing into the room, so what better place to perform???)

There are 2 more black holes on the left hand side of the closet. Thought behind this is games and batteries will most likely sit on a shelf in the closet to be charged, and/or a dust buster might be a helpful friend to have close by…you will NEVER regret having a plug nearby.  You will only regret not adding enough.

This was a LOW budget project.  Trust me, no major cash flow going on here. Thank the world for a handy hubs!  But even on a tight budget simple things can make a huge difference. We used Home Depot/DalTile ordinary white subway tile (About $2/sq ft).  But I chose to have it installed vertically.  The floor is from Home Depot/DalTile as well (About $3/sq ft) black and white (my whole life is black and white, which I supposed means I’m an easy book to read, but it also means my home has a neutral background that I can put ANYTHING with – any color, any pattern, I can change my mind at a moments notice.  And I do.)

Addie has been our little helper with this project.  I think she can name ever tool in the tool box….

With this room came a much need hallway addition that actually connects our house to the garage.  For the first time in my life, I have a sorta mudroom!!  WhooHoo!!  We added cubbies here for each person along with a couple drawers for Mom & Dad.

But my favorite part about this??

The shoe drawers!

I asked for something at the bottem of the cubbies because I didn’t want everyone tripping all over shoes all of the time.  By using “tray like drawers” we are able to see all the shoes (nothing lost in back) and it’s open and ventilated.  Who wants to get hit with stinky shoe smell??? I love these drawers!

My other most favorite part of the cubbies is having an electrical outlet in each one.  Told ya I love adding electricty! We considered doing a charging station within the cubbies, but in the end, we liked the simplicity of giving each person their own outlet to charge what each person needs – for me camera battery, phone.  For the kids, their games, etc.

Down the same hall/mudroom area is where the washer and dryer are moving.  (So sad about this, I’ve really enjoyed sharing the office/current laundry room with them – note sarcasm…). BUT I will give my mom and mother-in-law credit, as they were right.

When we first moved in and decided to make the then current laundry room into a home office, we had planned on moving the washer and dryer to the garage.  I think both women nearly “chained themselves to the tree”.  With an “absolutely NOT!”  As both very wise women said, “You’ve got young kids and lots of laundry.  You do not want to be trekking out to the garage all day long.  Keep the washer and dryer close by.”

I have to agree, it has been nice not having my shirts mixed up with hubs tool room!!  And it’s much easier to get it all done having it near by.  Thanks ladies!!

But now it’s time for them to have their own space.  This is also the entry from the garage, and even though the hallway is very wide.  I wanted to have the laundry baskets up and out of the way.  Luckily, once we measured for the machines themselves, and then measured our leftover space, there was just enough for shelving to accomodate a 19″ square laundry basket.  Therefore each shelf holds a laundry basket (3 total), with one pull out drawer for detergent and laundry supplies.  Addie has LOVED playing hide and seek in here…..she is on a constant search for monsters in the cabinets!

The laundry area is just inside from the garage.  Hubs has a utility sink (that is OBVIOUSLY getting LOTS of use at the moment). Thought behind this is it gives us a sink close by for the laundry /mudroom, as well as for kids projects, washing paint brushes, etc.

Do you have any favorite tips or things you wish you had done during a remodel or new build project??  I learn something on every job. I never stop learning.  Even on this one.  I should write a post about all the things I WISH I had done when we built our house…hmmmm.

Stay tuned, I can see the light!!!

incorporating good design into family living

Let’s go with a little design today.  I meant to share this article AGES ago.  The back log of posts I need to write is overwhelming to say the least, but I’m trucking through one day at a time.  Today I thought I would share a space I saw in House Beautiful in their August issue I believe (And BTW, I love when the article is also online!  So easy to refer back to).  While the home isn’t my exact style, it is still impressively decorated.

I really love 2 things about it…

  1. They have made a small space EXTREMELY FUNCTIONAL for a family of 3.
  2. They have kept their style while incorporating a place for their child to feel at home too.

I’ve said it before, and I will stand by this until the day I roll over and stop breathing, it IS possible to have a comfortable home, that is family friendly, without losing your sense style and design.  I’m not saying it’s easy to do, just that with a little thought, it is more than possible.

The use of the Stokke Tripp Trapp® Highchair in their dining area is brilliant.  While not an inexpensive chair, it’s many lives make the investment worth it.  It can go from high chair, to child’s chair / booster chair, even an adult chair.  I personally LOVE the red color.  And though I love our Phil and Ted’s MeToo Chair to keep a modern look around the table, had I seen the Stokke Chair when my 2 yo was a babe, I would have purchased for sure.  The chair can work in a traditional or modern home.  Great design, great function.  Perfect choice for this home!

Coat racks are always helpful and great use of space.  Love the little coat hanging there as well as the little chair.  My daughters LOVE to hang their coats up.  I think it gives them a feeling of belonging to this house too.  The yellow chair is darling, and again my 2 yo and 1 yo LOVE having their own little chairs.  Ikea has a lot of great options for kids chairs, here (could be painted too), and here (could add small throw pillow).  Also, the critter chair very similar to the chair in this home (we have them in black in ours).  Can’t beat $12.99

But this.

This is just awesome!

I’ve lived in some small spaces.  I’ve prided myself on the ability of being able to make almost anything fit and still remain functional.

But this tops anything I’ve ever tried to do.  For the record this bedroom is 8′ x 8′

Where oh where do you think their daughter sleeps???

But in a darling little trundle bed of course! Awesome!

Be sure to check out the article online for more fabulous photos from this fantastic LITTLE home!

(Disclosure: House Beautiful doesn’t know me, nor does this designer, nor does Stokke.  Just a cool Favorite space that I wanted to share.)

More than just a drive thru…

Do not laugh.

Yes, YOU!  Who else is reading this blog??

Want to know how I get the trash out of my car?  I certainly don’t carry it into the house, because then I would be dropping it in the kitchen trash…

Which gets taken to the outdoor side trash…

Which then gets rolled out to the street, right past my car once a week (and sometimes hubs does stop to grab the trash for me…but that’s not the point of this post…).

So no, I don’t carry in my trash, because it would be like a hamster running on a wheel.

The other reason is I’m usually carrying at least 2 littles while hollering at, while politely asking the third little to quickly follow mommy before a car smushes her on the street.

Nope, no possibility of carrying in car trash.

Which is why I love these….

You’ll usually see a drive-thru trash can at most drive-thru fast food stops.  Now I say “fast food” lightly here.  I don’t frequent all the options out there.  My three quick picks of choice that I feel good about, and that my littles feel good about are…

Chik-fil-A: l large Sweet Tea for mom w/ extra ice, 2 x 12 count nuggets, and 1 order of waffle fries for us all to split (girls & mom)

In-N-Out: Double-double protein style for mom, 2 plain cheeseburgers for the girls, 1 order of fries & 1 vanilla shake (split in thirds for us) to share.

Starbucks: Grande nonfat latte for mom with 1 raw sugar. 2 milks for the girls, protein snack plate for us to share

But the two-fer, multi-tasking reason I love these spots???  They all have a drive-thru trash can once you get your grub at the window.

Brilliant! I get a Sweet Tea AND a clean car, couldn’t be happier!!  Go find yourself a drive thru and you will be too.

a helpful reminder

Having little helpful reminders are good.  Goodness knows with each pregnancy I clearly lost more brain cells than I ever started with, so now I pretty much know nothing, and remember nothing.

Case in point, packing for my trip with the girls I made a quick dash out to the car to get something. My running shoes were also outside by the stroller.  I put them on the front doormat so that I wouldn’t forget to bring them inside to pack.  When I got back to the house from the car, I tripped over the shoes and cursed whoever would be stupid enough to leave them on the doorstep.

Oh right.  That was me.


Welcome to my life.

But my youngest sister, well she is notorious for not remembering things.  (So maybe this all just runs in the genes and has nothing to do with my pregnancies….).  She might be the nicest human being on the planet, but remembering her phone charger isn’t high on the list.  Mostly because she is busy thinking of things she needs to bring to make eveyone else smile.  She is super amazing like that.

Anywhoo, her hubs is super cute and can draw really funny cartoon character notes and such.  When I arrived at her apartment with the girls on Saturday and saw this hanging on the door, all I could say was, BRILLIANT!

And then another for when she is traveling…HILARIOUS. I mean, BRILLIANT AGAIN!

We all need these hanging on the front doors in our lives!  If you don’t have a cute hubs that can draw one for you, I’m sure any old handy dandy list you make, and then laminate, will work just fine!

Good luck! (Now what was I going to write this post about…)

great pack ‘n go snack!

The day I started shopping at Trader Joe’s I think a whole new world opened up to me!

(isn’t that a line in a movie???)

One of my, OK my husband’s favorite snacks,

(because mine would the chocolate peanut butter cups…just sayin’)

is the individual packages of almonds.

If you can have a snack pack of chips, raisins, and crackers, why not almonds??

The “Just a handful” individual packages are perfect to throw in your diaper bag/purse.

When you’re running tight on time between meetings, kids carpools, errands, appointments…

Grab “Just a Handful” out of your bag and keep going!

Healthy, full of energy, and filling!

tab it baby ~ part 2

A few months ago, I wrote about my new favorite organization tool
that let me make up a project binder just the way I wanted it

I use this binder every hour of every day!

But what makes this binder work is the awesome removable tabs.

I am WAY BEYOND IN LOVE with these tabs…

My newest way to use them is in my Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook.

Because I’m primarily cooking every meal out of this book, I found I was flipping back and forth and having to look up recipes all the time.  The Post it Note Tabs are FABULOUS… Great time saver!  I actually think they would be great to use in any cookbook to mark your most used recipes.  Also good to use as a book mark in the current book your reading (assuming you’re low tech like me and absent of a Kindle or iPad).  They really do remove with such ease! Just peel and re-stick…BRILLIANT!

Love things that save me time AND make my life easier!

Can you think of other great uses for these??

organizing tips

This tip has to do with helping to get yourself organized.  It comes from BabyCenter and although a REALLY, REALLY long list…there is LOTS of great info and very helpful tips.

Their first 5 are some of my favorites:

  1. Commit to change
  2. Take it slow
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Sort & purge
  5. Store things sensibly

Some others from the list that I really like and our family does as well:

Find a key spot for your keys.
We have a bowl in the kitchen for ALL keys (and sunglasses), next to the phone / iPod / iGo Charger stand.

Make old toys new again.
I learned this from the family I was a nanny for in college. The mom was BRILLIANT.  She rotated boxes of toys.  She actually went so far as to number each box 1 thru 5 and each week pulled out a different large box of fun.

Cut clutter on bedside tables.
I LOVE to go to bed feeling free from the day (and wake up to something clean – might be the only time I do!).  So I try to keep as few of things as possible on the bedside table.

Maximize closet space.
OHHHH do we maximize!  Check out the recent Master Closet post. My youngest sister came to my rescue in super organization hero style! Or this past organizing post, the last time I attacked it all.

Designate a “kid zone”.
I’m a big fan of keeping a space from feeling KID RUN OVER so I try to give them spaces within our space.  For example, a reading area (with a cute bean bag and baskets of books ~ they may even grab a quick shut eye if you’re lucky), and their own kitchen area (with a little table and chairs, black like our grown up one so it fits into the room).

Make space for play things.
We have lots of cute Pottery Barn type baskets and storage ottomans that I hide the kids things in. (The Havana lidded basket is a great option!) It makes family spaces family friendly without feeling like we live in a toy store.

Happy Friday everyone!  Enjoy your weekend!

Be sure to check back on Monday with a new week’s menu along with the Battle of the Belly update.  For those of you with me in the battle, keep charging on! Keep  your eye on the prize and we can all get rid of those once loved (for the food we got to eat), but no longer needed baby lbs!!!!! (If you do not have the Flat Belly Family Cookbook, check out the MFE Recipe category for a few yummy examples.)

I’m  hoping to finish up a couple more closets this weekend.  Getting the weight off my shoulders and life back in gear is feeling good!  Remember, if you’re stuck in the mud, STOP, and get back to basics, and get mama feeling good again!!

back to basics ~ master closet

A few weeks ago I had one of those moments you see in cartoons where the character yells so loud and so long that the whole world around him FREEZES.

You know what I’m talking about.

When water shooting out of a fire hydrant freezes in mid shoot…

The person jumping is somehow suspended indefinitely in his jump….

The world just stops and stares at the source of the yell waiting for the OK to return to life.

Well that’s what happened to me. And that’s what started my return to the basics.  My youngest sister understood my desperation.  I think she saw it in my eyes.  She was in town for Mother’s Day weekend and I somehow managed to convince her to help me freeze time and start to sort out the mess that had become my life.

This is where I had the most angst…

My closet needed fixing.

Clothes needed to be burned.

My office needed reorganizing.

A better system for posts needed to be put into place.

I needed to lose baby weight.

And sometimes solving the problems of the world is just easier when you have someone by your side holding your hand, or at the very least telling you how BAD your favorite skirt from 3 years ago will look even if you could fit into it again…simply put, you may not keep it.

The first place we tackled was my bedroom.  My problems were..

  1. Bookcases that stored our books had become a fascination for our 1 and 2 year old.  Every morning they would systematically pull EVERY book out.  So every day these needed to be picked up and put back.  I would have moved them, but had no where else to store them.
  2. My closet was a disaster.  It had become a mix of maternity clothes, post maternity clothes, and clothes I was hoping to fit into again, just a random cluster of nonsense.  My biggest problem was not being able to find something to wear, that I liked and that fit me, in a 15 MINUTE WINDOW window.  Which is about all I have every morning .
  3. Too many clothes from the past stored in boxes that I was afraid to toss…what if when I lose the baby lbs I want to wear it again???

This is what left my room for the Goodwill

This is what remained…

My Elfa system from The Container Store was already in place.  I had done these when we first moved into the house.  But they were overfilled and disorganized.  My sister chose to make the 2 pull out drawer shelves on the wall for shoes.  Running shoes on top, sandels and flats below.  All of my heels rest on pull out shoe shelves.  Below are frequently used wedges, slippers, and a multi-use bin filled with flip flops (which are the true “frequently used” shoes).

My sister asked me if I wanted to arrange my closet by color, article of clothing, etc.  I prefer to have like items grouped together, i.e. skirts, pants, shirts.  And then within that, like styles.  So long sleeves blouses, then long sleeve shirts…

After weeding through the shoes that should be tossed, (the overflow was stored in the little armoire in our room), she moved the shoe boxes not worn as often to the top shelf of the closet.  This used to be where a billion work sweaters and knit tops for my office job were folded.  But I was shown the light (a glaring light actually) that many were not really a style I would go back to….and did I really see myself going back to an office job that called for that same (outdated) style?

Well, no.  So they were gone.

The open bin to the left holds clutches and bags not used everyday.

These are Elfa drawers.  I love Elfa drawers and try to use similar ones around the house so that I can move them around and combine them together when needed.  Left top drawer is bras, going down is socks & tights, workout clothes, pajamas.  On the right top, underwear, shapewear, bathing suits (so ironic that bathing suits are under shapewear….SIGH), hats & visors.  To the left of the drawers are frequenyly used boots (all others are in boot boxes under my bed until fall).

On the back left and right side of the closet, I have large storage boxes that I bought at Target YEARS ago.  This used to be the storage system I used for everything, but then they stopped making some of the boxes.  So I’ve slowly been incorporating the Container Store clear storage boxes.

These boxes hold:

  1. Winter ski clothes
  2. Maternity clothes (only the ones that would be worn again if anyone was ever pregnant)
  3. Post prego clothes I plan to try on again in 2 months. (This was her tip as well.  Pack them away and bring them out again on a set date.)
  4. And believe it or not, 1 entire box holds all my favorite jeans from 3 years ago.  I refuse to throw this box out until I’m able to fit into each and every pair.  If this is something that helps me reach my goal, then so be it.

Basically my sister’s biggest tip was, if you can’t wear it now, don’t put it out. Only clothes that fit AND that you feel good in should be hanging in your closet. I had been holding onto items to have choices just in case, but really didn’t love them as choices.  Her advice, if you don’t love them and you don’t feel good in them, you wont wear them.  Therefore they just take up space and clutter the closet so you can’t see what your REAL choices are.  Get rid of them.

So we did.

I LOVED this trick!  So simple, WHY didn’t I think of this.  My brother-in-law has A LOT of t-shirts. One might call him a collector.  My sister folds his shirts normally, and then in half again, allowing the shirts to fit in a drawer like the photo above.  I LOVED this and so did hubs!  So much easier to see what’s in the drawer.  I actually changed the girls t-shirt drawers to look the same.

This is one of my favorite hangers from the Container Store.  Great when you live in small spaces (which I always have). My sisters tip was to always make sure you hang the pants in the rungs in the same direction.  Easier to tell what’s there.

This is the armoire in our room. It used to be filled with those shoe boxes now on the top shelf now.  As well as my running shoes and bags.  Since new space was found in the closet for those items, we moved the books safely behind the doors of the armoire.  I can get to them when I need them, but the Littles cannot. (Side note ~ I have used this piece of furniture in our TV room, the babies room, as a closet, and now to store books.  A good piece of furniture will have many lives in your home.

This left the book shelves empty for now.  Which although they look bare, it is soooo much better than having to pick up books everyday.

I’m good with them simple, bare, and CLEAN.

So we (SHE) solved the majors for this room.  Which LITERALLY lifted such a weight of my shoulders.  When this room and the hall closet were complete I felt like I could breathe again.  Silly I know, but I knew those were my trigger spots.

What are your favorite closet organizing tips and tricks? I would love to her them!  Hope our tips help you with your de-cluttering process!

For more closet help, see an earlier post with tips from Beth of Smart Style

Have a great week!!