Jan 31, 2011

I don't need no stinkin' binder!

I'm very thankful that this new organization challenge is on a weekly basis. I've got mucho going through my mind these days and this way I won't get overwhelmed and can still participate. Yay!
I was a little bummed that the first project was a Home Management Binder. I like the system I have now, it works for me. Or so I thought.

I'd like to enter into evidence exhibit A:

Hmm, I can probably remove the SOLD sticker.

 I present to you the front of my fridge. It doesn't usually look this cluttered. I went to bed early Sunday night so my husband took care of Friday Folders. (I know we're not the only ones that wait till Sunday night to look in Friday Folders. Right? Right?!) He or the kids put the lunch menu, Valentines class list,  and class schedule all up there. I usually put the papers I need to keep from the kids school on my desk or in my planner that stays in my purse.

So this cluttered mess combined with Toni's post got me thinking maybe I/we could benefit from a binder that keeps everything together in one place.  I'll work on it this week. I already know I'll keep the Busy Body calendar I use now (busybodybook.com). I love it.  It's made for big families (which I have) and I've used it for a few years now. It has to do lists galore, places to doodle, tear out grocery lists, and up to 6 or7  individual blocks for each family member, depending on which one you order. Right now I have this one:

It's so pretty.

Hearts flutter & angels sing each time I open it. I'm not sure if others hear them or just me.

There are spaces for 5 family members. Right now it works perfectly for my family. My husband and I have a box as do our 3 older kids. Kiwi doesn't need one yet as he doesn't have a busy schedule. His story time dates and rare doctor appointments just go under my listing. I figure by the time he's older and needs his own schedule, our oldest daughter will be moved out of the house and will be keeping track of her own schedule.

  Hmmm, suddenly it seems I've ventured into raving about my planner and away from the home management binder.  Could it be I'm stalling?

Jan 28, 2011

Channeling Tim the Tool Man

I totally just cleared a clogged drain all by myself using only ingredients from my pantry. The sink in my bathroom has been draining slow for a few weeks and I keep forgetting to mention it to my husband. And, as much as I love him, even if I did mention it to him, it would still be a few more weeks before anything would be done about it. (Love you Hoss!)

Anywhoo...after staring at my own spit and toothpaste funk for one morning too many, I'd had enough. I've seen this done all over blog land before so I figured it couldn't hurt to try. Although, I was still a little....shall we say scared terrified shaking in my boots apprehensive about attempting it. I'm not known for my handy man skills, hence the Tim the Tool Man Taylor reference. I had visions in my head of a big fizzy explosion.

Here's all you need to unclog your drain without using nasty chemicals:

Salt, baking soda and vinegar.

First put a kettle of water on to boil. 
While the water is boiling you can pour 1/2 cup each dry baking soda and salt into the drain.

Baking soda going in.

 Then follow with 1 cup vinegar.

Vinegar and prayers headed in.

Next hold your breath and pray your sink doesn't explode like your 4th grade build-your-own volcano project. It will bubble and fizz quite a bit.

Plop plop fizz fizz. I'm childish I know.

Then pour the entire kettle of boiling water into the drain and watch it work it's magic.

I think my kettle needs a good cleaning.

Hot! Pour carefully.

You can even see the oogies (very scientific terms used around here) floating up as they are being unclogged.

This worked great! I patted myself on the back and sat down to enjoy a nice cup of hot tea.
Darn it- why did I empty the entire kettle?!? Hindsight and all that. Learn from my mistakes. Pour yourself a cup of tea before unclogging the drain :)

Jan 27, 2011

Habit forming

I got so much done during the last organization challenge I participated in. Seriously, my entire parts of my house look so different I'm still doing double takes as I walk through certain rooms. Our host for the 21 day challenge is now offering a weekly challenge with assignments ranging from cleaning out the garage to de-cluttering the book shelf. Both of those sound fab-u-lous! Fabulous! Fabulooooous!

I'm so glad I stumbled across her blog. I've been keeping up on all the changes I've made, she introduced me to new cleaning products that I love,  I've been moving more just because of the organization projects. Seriously, I'm almost to 10,000 steps per day on my pedometer. We even have the same favorite color!  Look, her button even matches my blog colors!

I can't wait to get started,

Jan 24, 2011

Beans and rice, rice and beans

I've got to find a way to get our food budget under control. Well, that's not exactly true. That would imply it's out of control and really it's not. I just know I can spend less and still feed my family healthy, quality food. The less I spend is that much more we can throw towards our last debt. As soon as the last debt is paid off my husband and I get to call into the Dave Ramsey show and s-c-r-e-a-m as loud as we can "We're Debt Free!" No debt, zip, zero, zilch, nada. We are almost there. Slaves to debt no more. The only debt we have left is what we are paying off from selling our house. So close! I can almost taste it.

Oh right, speaking about taste- how to feed my family of six on less. Any ideas?

The easiest answer I can come up with is to:
-simplify the meals I make. We don't need 3 courses at dinner every night.
-go vegetarian a couple times per week. (I know a certain 6'7 someone who may dig in his heels at this idea.)
-rotate the simple dinners that I know everyone likes and serve them more often. I get stuck in a rut sometimes because I feel like I have to come up with a new exciting dinner 30 times every month.
-I already buy in bulk at I{heart}Costco, I need to use up what we have before I head there and bring home another truck load.
- find creative ways to use leftovers.

Today I will consider my time spent on the internet as research. Research on how to frugally feed my famished family. Say that 5 times fast!

Jan 17, 2011

The "Medicine" Cabinet

We don't use much medicine in this house. If my kids get a fever I let it burn, if they get a sniffle we load up on foods full of vitamin C, if they have a sore throat we turn to honey and hot lemon. Now that's just our kids and myself. My husband is a different story. There is no over-the-counter fix he doesn't like.

But we do have a closet with a shelf dedicated to all the extra toiletries and such.

All scattered about.
Today's challenge took all of 4 minutes. Good because I'm a few days behind.

Nice and neat and grouped together.

I used one bin for shampoos and all things hair, another bin for medicines, witch hazel, peroxide type of stuff, another bin for tooth paste, floss and extra toothbrushes, and yet another bin for bandages, gauze and first aid hoozitwhatzits.


Hmmm, spell check won't recognize hoozitwhatzits. What gives?

Longing for a man cave.

Since I turned our hallway coat closet into a pantry we needed place to hang our coats. We started using another hallway in our house but you had to walk through the living room to get to it. It's not very practical, especially right now while it's snowy and wet outside.

I'd like to get a coat tree for the entry way but it's not high on my list of wants or needs right now so it will have to wait.

Until then we have these:

Yep, that's what you think it is.

Ugh. I hate these things, but my husband loves them and I love my husband so up they went. I'm not the only one who isn't a fan of dead animal parts hanging on the walls. Our two year old refuses to go near them. They are hanging in our front entry way which is at the bottom of the stairs and in between both living rooms. If he needs to get from point A to point B in our house he will go all the way around them and at a full speed run. He also points to them and says "Mooo, boo-boo!"

If I keep them covered with coats I can pretend they aren't there.

 This is just another part of my husband I have to learn to get used to. It's what happens when a city girl marries a country boy.

Jan 14, 2011

Day 12 - I {heart} cumin.

Today's organizing challenge was the spice cupboard. I'm glad I had already done that as part of my pantry switcheroo, so I took some time to catch up on laundry today. I had to, with all the deep organizing I've been doing, my regular housework is being neglected.
Here's proof:

Pretty sure 275 fire codes are being broken here.
  It's actually not as bad as it appears. My husband is 6'7, 300 pounds. His clothes just naturally make big piles. This only took me 3 loads to catch up on. Oh by the way- don't you love how instead of taking the hamper downstairs when he sees it overflowing, he just keeps piling his giant man clothes on top? Good thing I love him.

I digress. Here's my spices.

Messy, not functional.

  I emptied the drawer and spread everything out on my dining room table. I didn't have any old, expired spices only because I dumped all those when we moved 7 months ago.

Organizing and labeling.

Chia seeds.

The best spice! The smell of cumin actually cheers me up when I'm sad.

Anise, celery seed and other rarely used spices.

These spices I use almost daily.

 Everything is grouped together for what works for me in my kitchen. Then they get their own shelf in the pantry and i just grab the tote I need when I need it.


I'm off to fold some more clothes.

He's sooo good at being 2!

This is Kiwi-

He has a certain je ne sais quoi about him. He's 2 1/2 years old. He's crazy wild and rambunctious.

He reminds me of this guy:

Taz should have been his nickname instead of Kiwi.

Do you see the resemblance?

How about now?

He keeps me on my toes more than any of my other children did at the same age. I can't take my eyes off him for too long because when I do, he likes to take full advantage of the freedom which usually results in a mess for me to clean up. 
Last night for example, he took his sweet time eating dinner so I left him up at the table while everyone else had already finished eating, cleared their places and I'd already started on dishes.
Here's what I got for letting him sit there alone:

Mmm, quinoa. I'll just help myself.


Open wide!

There's the je ne sais quoi I was telling you about. Do you see it?

Not 10 minutes later, after I'd cleaned him up and brushed it all onto the floor for the dogs washed the table, I spotted an exhausted husband sitting on the couch and thought I could sneak an uninterrupted  cuddle next to him for about 1.5 minutes. I set Kiwi up in his newly organized playroom and thought I was safe. Surprisingly enough, he was playing so nice and quiet for about 10 minutes. Or so I thought...until I was summoned by my oldest daughter.


 Apparently Kiwi had snuck into her room which is right off the playroom, and well...

He had shut himself in the dog crate!

He was so proud of his accomplishment.

How wrong is it that a little light bulb went off in my head at seeing him contained in there? Haha, just kidding...kind of...no really I'm kidding...mostly.

Jan 13, 2011

Day 9 -Toy Organization

I'm scared. Trembling actually. The toy room. *Gulp*

There will be no before picture today. I, uh...forgot. Yea, that's it, I forgot!

Here's a glimpse at what it may have looked like:

Do you get where I'm going with this? It was a complete disaster area wee on the messy side.

I almost skipped this challenge due to the overwhelming task ahead.

"I know you can be overwhelmed, and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" -Name that movie!

After a small pep talk with myself a la Chris Farley Van Down by the River style, I donned the appropriate gear and got moving:

Quick -Name this movie!
 Okay, okay- you get the message!

We were snowed in yesterday so I couldn't leave to get containers. I used what I had on hand and didn't bother to label anything because I plan on replacing the shoe boxes with Dollar store boxes really soon.

You know the routine- Trash, Donate, Keep! Oh boy did I donate and trash today. My older kids don't have many toys, and Kiwi would honestly rather play with my measuring spoons or the dogs so I totally purged in this room!

My own personal Vanna- isn't she awesome?

Bottom shelf- favorite books and legos.

Middle shelf-trains set, blocks, cars, and misc fun stuff.

Books- This is scaled back! Books are very important and well loved in this house.

Then we vacuumed, and left these big toys that Kiwi does actually play with:

Vanna is so camera shy!

Loves that Harley! My 10 year old still uses the spin toy.

Previously filled to overflowing now practically empty!

While doing this challenge kind of stunk, writing it was way too much fun!

Jan 12, 2011

Day 7 - This is how it all started

It's a SNOW DAY! I'm loving not having to get kids up and ready. It was fun sneaking into their rooms to shut off the alarms. I felt like the Tooth Fairy! There's sledding, and hot cocoa and all sorts of fun snow stuff going on today!

I've been working on this pantry for a few weeks now. A Google search for "Closet turned pantry" led me all over the web and finally I landed on Toni's little slice of it . Little did I know I would then be sucked into an entire Organization Challenge. I am glad though. No, really I am.

So we have a kitchen that's a bit awkward. It's not exactly small, it's just laid out really strange. It's not very user friendly. This is the 3rd time in 7 months that I've rearranged it. The original pantry has lots of room but it's so deep that things keep getting pushed to the back and lost in there and I end up buying something at the store that I don't need.

That's when I decided to turn our hall coat closet into our new pantry. I'm so glad I did. It works really well.

Before held dog food...

...and coats and other misc stuff.
I put all the misc stuff where it belonged, and hung the coats in a different area of the house.

I didn't ever take a before picture of the original pantry. I did remember to take a picture of the spice drawer though.

Messy little guys all scattered about.

I'm almost finished with it. I hope to get all matching bins eventually, but this will definitely do for now. It's much more user friendly and I can easily see everything we have or what we are almost out of.

Spices, candles, tea, baking supplies.
 The wicker basket holds the spare blades to my food processor

Needs some shuffling around but works for now.

I love a stocked pantry.

I'm not kidding about the stocked pantry. I remember some very lean days in my past. We were lucky to have peanut butter and canned tuna. There were many days that I made sure my kids ate but there wasn't enough for me. Not a good feeling. Anywhoo...

Lunch boxes and rags. Hey hangers, you're not supposed to be there anymore!

More spices, snacks and misc stuff.
Have you tried these Roasted garlic and black bean Tostitos? yum!

The closet is at such an awkward angle it's hard for me to get a good picture of the entire thing. I have to back all the way to the wall just to get these shots. It looks fabulous and works so much better. I just pull out the spice baskets when I'm cooking and put them back afterward. The only downside I've noticed is that my 2 year old has easy access to snacks now. Oh well, not a big deal.

Thanks Toni for the inspiration for this!