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Posts from the ‘Organizing & DIY’ Category

Getting Organized: Kitchen Junk Drawer

Hello again!

It’s been three weeks since I’ve shown up here, whoops! Life has been full, and with Will’s new work schedule, we’ve been heading to bed earlier, so there hasn’t been much time for blogging. But I’m trying to work it into the new routines we’ve got going on.

We’ve been enjoying life the last few weeks — play dates with neighbors, Weston’s baby dedication at church, dinners with family, time with friends…and a few organizing projects around the house.

Like I mentioned here, one of my goals this year is to seriously simplify and de-clutter our home. I thought I’d start by focusing on the areas that stress me out the most when I see them every day.

The first disaster zone I’ve tackled is our kitchen “junk-drawer.” I used to cringe every time I opened this drawer (which was multiple times a day), but now I find myself wanting to open the drawer and peek at its organized yumminess whenever I walk by (I’m a weirdo, I know).

Somehow I forgot to get an actual “before” shot of the inside. I did, however, snap some photos of the overflowing junk I pulled out of the drawer and onto the counter the day I decided it needed some serious attention.

photo 1-3

Y’all. This drawer was so slammed full that there were papers and receipts and gum wrappers actually falling behind the drawer down into the cabinet below. Out of control. Sidenote: among the most amusing finds buried inside the drawer were extensive notes from my first “big girl” job interview 3 years ago and 8×10 photos that the previous home-owners left of their 70-something year old selves goofily giving the camera the peace sign. (After almost 3 years of living here, we are somehow still coming across little treasures they left behind).

My first plan of attack was to buy some drawer dividers. I got two medium-sized ones in the bath section of Target, and the smaller one (on the far right in the pic below) is from the dollar section of Target. The only other purchase I made was some patterned drawer liner that I found at Publix. I then emptied everything out  — a lot of it was trash, but I made piles for items that belonged in other rooms and a pile for what needed to go back into the drawer. Then I reassembled things using my handy new dividers.  It took about 20 minutes total. Here’s the “after” pic:


This drawer is so much more functional now. I can actually find what I need without having to dig through piles of old receipts and takeout menus. I get a little jolt of happiness every time I open it since it’s no longer a crazy mess. (I’m hoping that starting with small areas like this will give me the momentum to eventually get to bigger organizing projects like our master closet, which is downright scary at the moment…as in, I pretty much always wear the same 3 shirts because I have to climb over stuff to get to the rest of my clothes. Yep, it’s that bad. Baby steps, baby steps…)

Have you done any organizing projects lately, big or small? Any certain “disaster zones” stressing you out that you can’t wait to organize?

Being Intentional & Simplifying in 2014

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour. Tsh Oxenreider (from The Art of Simple) has a new book out, Notes From a Blue Bike. As part of her book launch, she’s invited readers to share posts about their own journeys toward living slower, simpler, and with more intention.

My “theme word” for 2014 is intentional. I love making goals and resolutions, and I can go a little overboard with way too many goals at a time, so it helps to narrow my focus to one or two key words. I chose “intentional” for this year because it’s so easy to go through my days and feel like I’m just letting life happen instead of consciously making choices that match my values or actively choosing the way I want my life to be. Since Tsh’s new book is all about living more intentionally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy and get some fresh inspiration.


I thought I’d share a few areas of my life in which I’m striving to be more intentional this year…

  • Time – There are a lot of changes I want to make with how purposefully I spend my time, from little things like not wasting all of my spare minutes scrolling through various social media, to bigger things like how we spend our evening hours together as a family. With my husband’s new job, we have less time at home together (he was working from home a lot before), so we’re trying to make better choices with how we spend our time together at night. We both feed Weston dinner and give him his bath, so it’s nice to have those family rituals each evening. But we’re also working on healthier boundaries with technology — not being glued to our various devices but making the time for more conversation and more meaningful time together. For example, if we feel like watching TV, we try to choose a show we both really like and enjoy it together without other distractions instead of just leaving the TV on as background noise while we do other stuff. I also want to use the time I spend feeding my son more intentionally — I nurse Weston six times a day, so that’s a huge chunk of time that I could be using more wisely – by just slowing down and resting, or reading something I actually want to read, instead of playing around on my phone or checking email repeatedly while I’m feeding him.
  • Friendships — I want to be more intentional with putting in the effort and time to build new relationships as well as being consistent in connecting with the friends I already have. Things like regular phone dates with out-of-town friends and showing up to play dates where I can meet and get to know neighbors and other mom friends (Weston and I recently joined two play groups — one in our neighborhood and one for moms in the northeast Columbia area — which we’re really excited about :)) So often friendships get put on the back-burner when we think we’re too busy to really invest time in other people, but I want to prioritize relationships more this year.
  • Our Home — I didn’t realize how cluttered our little house had gotten until all the baby items came along and we realized we have nowhere to store it all! It’s pretty embarrassing how cluttered some areas of our home are, and a shame that we can’t even use some rooms/closets because they’re just overflowing with STUFF that we don’t even use. Areas like our office, office closet, bedroom closet, and pantry need a major overhaul. My goal is to simplify, take A LOT of stuff to Goodwill, and have room for the things in our house we actually use and love.
  • Filling my cup — Motherhood is the most rewarding and joyful experience, but it requires a constant giving of yourself and your time and your energy, and that’s not always easy. I’m learning to be less selfish with my own plans and wants, but I’ve found that I need to carve out at least some time each day to do things I love, like reading a little bit before bed each night, even if it’s only a page. Or setting aside just a few minutes here and there to be creative, like working on a digital photo book project or blogging after Weston goes to sleep at night. When I don’t make time for “filling my cup” with some of these things that reenergize me, I feel drained and not myself. And when I’m not making regular time for things just for me, I’m much more prone to getting impatient and frustrated throughout the day.

Do you have a theme word for 2014? How are you hoping to live differently this year? I’d love to hear. :)


IKEA Organizing Faves

IKEA trips are pretty much my favorite thing. I am like a drooling kid in a candy store when I go to this place. Like, I literally drool. Or maybe that’s just Weston’s drool all over me. The first time I went, my mom and I both could barely contain ourselves (“everything’s so cheap! and so cute!”). We spent 7 hours shopping that day. Of course, my hubs wasn’t quite as excited when I got home with a car FULL of cheap & cute stuff, most of which required hours of his manual labor to put together (sorry, babe)!

My mom is usually my IKEA shopping buddy, and we went last week. But this time, we had a new little shopper with us:


Actually I guess Weston’s first IKEA trip was last Spring, when he looked like this:


Anyways, he was quite the trooper. He loves being out and about in stores (Target is another one of his faves…boy after my own heart :))

I went with a few items in mind to look for, based on areas in our home that desperately need some organizing attention (pantry & master closet in particular…major disaster zones).

Here are some of the things I bought that I can’t wait to use…


I snagged two of these boxes ($5.99 each) to store some of Weston’s toys in our office/room where we stash random junk (please tell me I’m not the only one who has a random junk room?!) We keep some of his larger toys in here, so it made sense to put at least some smaller toys too so he has other options when playing in here. These boxes are big enough to hold plenty of toys, and I like the soft fabric texture, too. We’re trying our best to keep things fairly simple and not let baby toys completely take over our home, so right now it’s working for us to have one box of toys in his nursery, one in the living room, and one in the office, in addition to a few bigger toys (like activity mats and a sit-in car) that sort of float around various rooms.


I grabbed a couple more of these clothes storage boxes ($19.99 for a 2-pack) to put in our master closet. These pretties match our bedroom, and I love using them for out-of-season clothes or for smaller items like scarves, gloves, and hats.


Remember that pantry organization project I mentioned here? Well, it has yet to be completed (or even begun, actually), but now I have some of these containers to make the pantry a little more streamlined. I’m thinking of using them for cereal, chips, crackers, etc., and I also got some smaller ones to use for granola, almonds, and other smaller-sized food.


I use these boxes for office storage near my desk — they house things like extra notepads, stationery, and gift-wrapping supplies. I needed a few more for some craft supplies, and I love how they tidy up my office space.

kastanjenot-bowl__0174458_PE328385_S4I kind of broke an organizing rule with this purchase and bought this basket without an actual use for it in mind. But isn’t it just lovely? I’m sure I’ll find a home for it in the living room or florida room, since we have the whole basket/wooden texture thing going on in those two rooms especially.  It’s a pretty good size for $9.99, and I’m thinking it might be a home for remote controls, or magazines, or maybe even napkins in the kitchen. Hmmm…

samla-insert-for-box--and--gallon__79989_PE204091_S4This storage box is actually meant to be used as an insert for another box, but I bought a few to store cleaning supplies underneath our bathroom cabinets and in a hall closet. I love that the handle makes it easy to grab and go when I’m rushing around getting my clean on.


Ok, so this last item doesn’t really have anything to do with organizing, but look at this cute deer! I was downright giddy to find so much lime green at IKEA this time around, since Weston’s nursery has some of this shade. I couldn’t resist grabbing this guy to add a splash of green on top of his navy blue bookcase. (Hoping to do a nursery tour post soon)!

So that’s my round-up of favorite IKEA organizing tools. Now I need to put this stuff to use and get some serious organizing going on ’round here.

Happy Monday! (Er, Tuesday…my night owl baby just went down for the night, so it still feels like Monday to me :))

Making Peace with my To-do List

So I was planning to write a post this week about organizing our embarrassingly messy pantry, a post complete with pretty, shiny “after” pictures, but the thing is that I have to actually organize it before I can write a post about organizing it. And life has been pretty messy around here lately (not a whole lotta organizing going on). Just so you get the visual, here’s what our house looks like currently:

photo 1-1our bathroom

photo 2-1our bedroom

photo 3-1our living room

Like I said — messy.

We had a water pipe bust last week, and our bedroom floor and wall are still in the drying process, so everything has yet to be put back together. We’re currently sleeping on the pull-out couch (wishing we had a guest bed right about now, because sleeping on this thing makes us wake up feeling at least ninety years old).

Anyways, with all of this craziness going on, it’s been one of those weeks where not much on my to-do list really gets crossed off. And that’s something that generally stresses me out.

Case in point: Weston went through a stage a few months ago where he literally would. not. nap. during the day unless I was holding him, and I just about lost my mind because I felt so suffocated and angry about not being able to GET ANYTHING DONE. But then I realized that I was really just mad about the fact that I was not the one in control of how my day was going. And that people (like my infant son) are more important than my to-do list. And that baby snuggles are way more fun than vacuuming, anyway. I know all of this sounds obvious (maybe this is easier for most people), but I was really having a hard time with getting to the end of the day and feeling unproductive.

So one of my goals for this year is to not be so driven by productivity and to remember that loving the people under my roof well is more important than how much I get done in a given day.

Having said all that…the house still has to get cleaned by someone, and being a responsible adult means getting some of that to-do list crossed off at some point.

So, here are some strategies that are helping me keep my sanity and make peace with my to-do list, especially during days, weeks, or seasons when life is unusually hectic.

  1. 3 “Most Important Tasks” – I’m reading Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider, a book that defines simple living and offers suggestions for how to get there. One thing she writes about is having 3 tasks each day that you label as “most important.” That way, you’re not pressured and overwhelmed by your entire to-do list; if you get to more items on your list, great, but if not, at least you know you made progress.
  2. Chip away at large tasks – Some things on my to-do list loom so large in my head that they feel almost too intimidating to even start, like that newborn photo book I still haven’t made, or organizing our closets. But a few minutes here and there really do add up, so even if your only time to work on something is during your child’s nap time, or whenever you have a few extra minutes, tackling large projects in small bites adds up quicker than you’d think.
  3. Evening tidy-up — Some things I wait to do until right before bed, like picking up Weston’s toys or putting the day’s dirty dishes in the dishwasher. (Check out that alliteration!) Otherwise, these are tasks I’d be doing over and over again throughout the day. Every night, I do a quick tidy-up (15-20 minutes) around the house to get things back in order. This way, even if I didn’t get the chance to get much more done throughout the day, I can go to bed feeling like I’m not surrounded by clutter.

Maybe next week I’ll get around to organizing that pantry and sharing about it here. Or maybe more important life things will come up and it won’t get done quite yet. Either way, I think the world will keep on spinnin’. :)

What are some tips you have for managing your to-do list/not stressing about getting everything done? I’d love to hear, because obviously I’m still figuring all of this out.