Thursday, September 13, 2012

Junk Drawer - If You Must

Full disclosure: I do not have a junk drawer. I don't believe in them. Everything should have a place. Batteries do not belong with sharpie markers. Rubber bands do not belong with matches. There should not be loose change in a drawer. 

However, most people disagree. Even great organizers have junk drawers. So, if you must have a junk drawer, the best way to do it is:
  • Keep it small. Don't have the largest drawer in the house be the junk drawer. Use a small one so it'll force you to actually put away the item in its proper spot. 
  • Use a utensil holder to organize things in junk drawer. There are all sizes and shapes of utensil holders these days. Buy one that fits your drawer, then you at least have compartments to use so things are easier to see and find. 
  • Consider having multiple. I know, I know. I just said don't have any. Now I tell you to have more than one. Here's what I mean. Have a "kitchen junk drawer" and maybe an "office junk drawer". No matches, toothpicks, or wine opener in the office drawer. No batteries, stamps, paper clips or sewing kits in the kitchen drawer. 
  • Maintain it. Like I've said many times before on this blog, 80% of organization is maintenance. So go through your junk drawer once in a while and toss what you don't need, put away things that have another spot, etc.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Great Tip From a Reader: Kids Clothes!

Believe it or not, it's almost that change over clothes from summer to fall/winter. Here's a great reader suggestion if you have kids and they are the same sex kids and are close in age:

My two youngest girls, ages 8 and 6, share a room.  And though they are 27 months apart, they are the same size and share almost all of their clothes.  The system of two dressers, one for each child, was not working.  Each would often go through both dressers looking for a certain shirt or pajamas, leaving an untidy drawer behind, which made more work for me.  And even though they had different items in each drawer, it was either half full or overflowing.  So I changed my thinking.  Instead of one dresser per child, I used both dressers and labeled all drawers by item of clothing.  It is working much better and I had enough drawers for extra things like sweatshirts and swimsuits.  And the girls only have to look in one place for a certain article of clothing!

 Thanks Amy C. for this great tip! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guest Post: Getting Creative with Storage

Getting creative with storage

You’ve reached the breaking point. All your storage space is full, and you’ve already culled out everything you don’t need. Don’t panic and start planning for a new room in your home just yet! Getting creative with storage is a great way to add some extra space with a decorative flair. Use these tips to start making more storage today:

Display it

There’s a good chance at least some of your stuff can be put on display instead of taking up all the extra room in your closet. You would be surprised at how great unusual items look on your walls. Are you a shoe person? If they’re a fashion statement on your feet then they’ll look great on a shelf on the wall! The same
strategy will work for your kids’ toys. Pick the most visually appealing items to display and it won’t look out of place, especially if you keep it in the bedrooms. Finally, if you’re storing a collection of any kind then you should get it out in the open where everyone can see it!

Look high

Is easy to miss all the extra storage space you have up high, mainly because it’s hard to see. Think about the tops of all your furniture that are out of sight. How much square footage do you have empty up there? You don’t have to pack the top of your tall furniture to overflowing, but you can put a few items up there. If you scoot them toward the back you won’t even know they’re up there without a ladder. Be cautious when climbing up to store your items, and make sure you choose the things you won’t need on a regular basis.

Use the floor space

We’re not talking about piling stuff up on the floors here. Instead, think of how you can use the extra space in your rooms. You probably have tons of space, especially around the edges of your rooms where the furniture and bookcases are. Consider turning one of these areas into a makeshift closet. All you need is a shower rod and some fabric that matches your d├ęcor. Put the rod between your furniture or bookcase and the wall and, viola, you have a closet! If you want to get a bit more advanced you can use tubing and some “L” brackets to make a freestanding closet off the wall as well. If you pick the right fabric and location in the room it will have all kinds of decorative value to go along with the storage space.

Getting creative with storage is a great way to free up some of your much needed space. The more creative you can be, the more space you’ll have!

Author’s bio: Lisa is a writer at Self Storage Deals who blogs about organizing all kinds of spaces, including storage units. She is currently organizing storage units in Colorado Springs and storage units in McCallen. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Command Station

No, this post isn't about a space movie with the command central station. It's about having a place designated for order. A place for your keys, mail, to do lists, grocery lists, etc.

Here are some options:

  • Kitchen. This works great if you have a large kitchen or one of those great built-in desks in the kitchen. If you have a large kitchen and are not using all of the counters, I kinda don't like you. Just because I'm jealous. Lucky for you though - designate some of that counter space to a command station where you drop your keys and mail. 

  • The foyer. If you have the space, have an entry way table where you can drop you keys and mail. Have a basket, plate, bowl or something like that to contain your items. This is the option I use (pictured above). My foyer has a shoe bench and this table where the keys, sunglasses, mail, etc go.  Personally, if I don't drop my keys off when I first come in, I can't find them when I need them.

  • If your front door opens right up to the living room (doesn't have an entry hall), designate a corner or wall spot in the living room for the entry items (keys, phone, mail, etc). Again, have it on a table with baskets, bowls, plates, to keep the items organized.

  • Garage. If you always come into your house through a garage, set up your command station right in the garage. Be aware of heat and cold though. You don't want your key chain to melt in the summer.

Wherever you set up your command station, be sure it works for you. If you find yourself never remembering to drop your keys where you set it up, perhaps that space isn't the best place. If you always put your mail on the dining room table, but then have to move it for every's not working for you. Move the mail somewhere else. The key to good organizing is to:

1. Analyze the problem
2. Think about a solution that works
3. Implement the solution
4. Make sure that's the right solution. Just because it's a solution, doesn't mean it's the right solution. Check back to make sure the problem is actually solved. If not, find a different solution. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Wonderful Change and Welcome!

I want to introduce you to the newest addition to Simplify Your Life! This is Chris Vaughn. She has many talents and gifts - organizing is but one of them. She will be the main organizer for Simplify Your Life and I am so thankful to have her! Here's a little more about her:

I'm Chris Vaughn, wife to Jim and mother of four.  Like every other mother, my life is busy and staying organized helps me save time for what's really important.  I believe it is easier to keep a house organized than to "get it" organized.  But human, I am!  I have a dedicated "junk drawer" in several rooms of my house - keeps me grounded.  :)

Welcome Chris! Be sure to visit the services page and contact Chris if you need any organizational help!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post: Why Minimize?

(Guest Post: Ryan Franklin)

The Benefits of Minimizing What You Own

Minimizing what you own doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of everything. It just means getting rid of excess stuff, making smarter purchasing decisions, and embracing a lifestyle of increased simplicity. If you’ve decided to become more of a minimalist when it comes to acquiring and holding onto things for your home, you’ve made a wise decision. Here are some of the many benefits of making this lifestyle change:

1. You’ll have to clean less often – The fewer things you own, the less time you’ll have to spend organizing those things. Since a large part of the cleaning most people do involves organizing things and putting those things in a proper place, this is a huge advantage. Only owning what’s essential also cuts down on the amount of time you’ll need to spend dusting things.

2.  You’ll spend less money – Taking a minimalist approach means that you buy things less frivolously. You only buy what you need, so you end up saving all the money you would have spent buying excess, non-essential things.

3. You’ll have more space – When you minimize what you own, you have more space in your home for living. Getting rid of that old loveseat and sticking to one sofa in your living room will give the kids some extra space to sit on the floor and play. Clearing everything off your kitchen counters will give you some extra space to cook. Getting rid of all the extra pillows on your bed will give you some extra space to sleep. Having more space in your home will help you feel liberated to do what you like.

4. You’ll have more time – Going out to the store regularly to pick out new things for your home takes time. Spring cleaning each year and getting rid of all the things you bought but don’t really use also takes time. You can spend the time you don’t spend shopping, organizing, and de-cluttering doing things you enjoy and enriching your life.

5. You’ll have peace of mind – Ask anyone who’s embraced a more minimalistic lifestyle, and they’ll tell you that they have a better outlook on life. The less you own, the fewer distractions there will be in your life. So, you can focus less on taking care of things and focus more on taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

Author’s Bio: Ryan Franklin is a home organizer and guest blogger who writes about minimalism, organization, simplifying before relocation, and when to hire cross country movers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"We Do Live Here"

Balance and moderation: two of my favorite words. I need to continue to be reminded of these just about every day. Most days I complain to my husband, "Why can't this house stay clean?" Or "Every time I get the kids closets organized, they mess it up". His response is one I love and need to hear:

"We DO live here, ya know."

Take these bookcases. They are in an open area just off the kitchen. Boy, would I love the contents to be beautiful. Lovely decorative vases, beautiful containers, coffee table books. However, that's not what would simplify my life. A practical space would. It's our home school space. And while it's not beautiful, it's practical...because "We DO live here, ya know."

Yes, strive for beauty. But, keep moderation and practicality in mind as well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Utilize Closet Wall Space

This is my daughter's closet. We have a large armoire in there because the room is on the small side and we needed extra space for clothes that a toddler could reach. Which left little hanging room for dresses, which were on the floor in a wicker basket before.


I could have spend hundreds of dollars buying a new closet system. Instead I purchased a $10 tie rack from The Container Store and hung it on the wall for the dresses. Here's the after:

So be creative with your space. Ask yourself:
1. What's working? Don't change it!
2. What's not working? Find a solution that does!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Being Intentional - Service Jar

               Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.
                                                        1 John 3:18

                           Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
                                    for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
                                                      Hebrews 13:1

Sometimes things I want to do come naturally and easily. Time is already carved out for them and they just happen. Other times, I need to be more intentional.

I want to teach my children how to love others well by serving them. However, with so many other things taking my attention, this often is an afterthought. Something I only do if it happens to stare at me in the face.

In order to make serving others a priority, I made a service jar. Each slip of paper has an act of service or kindness on it. When I first made the jar, I was a little overwhelmed and was rethinking my decision. I wasn't sure it would simplify my life.

But it has and I'm so grateful we are doing it. I didn't give myself a dead line for finishing the jar and we don't do them every day or even every week. While it may seem like a hassle to make it or hard to do it (we keep ours on our dining room table, so it's always there!), it will simplify your life by helping you remember to be intentional about serving others.

Some ideas to put in are:
  • Compliment each person in your family
  • Clear everyone's dishes after a meal
  • Leave a special treat at a restaurant for someone else to find
  • Pay for the food behind you at a drive through
  • Make someone's bed for them
  • Bake some goodies to bring to the church staff
  • Sort laundry and put away another person's as well as your own
  • Write a note of encouragement to mail
  • Give lots of hugs today without any explanation
  • Find a toy or piece of clothing to donate
  • Read with a sibling 
  • Call someone you haven't talked to in a while
  • Take out the trash without being asked
  • Take a treat to the local fire station
  • Draw a picture for someone
  • Play a game with others - but let them choose which one
  • Clean up sticks in the yard
  • Write a letter to a grandparent
  • Share a snack with your siblings
  • Begin a prayer journal
  • Buy flowers to give to someone outside the family
  • Buy a box of cookies to put in the mailbox for the mail carrier
  • Leave a nice note for someone in an unexpected place
  • Mail a gift card to someone (anonymously) 
  • Doorbell ditch a treat
  • Write a thank you letter

Friday, March 16, 2012

Downsizing Your Home

Many people choose to downsize their home - an illness, disability, death of a loved one, new empty nesters, retirement, etc. Since I have never been through any of that myself, I began researching for this post and I came across this. I can't say it better than they already have. I have copied it verbatim here for you:

Tips on Downsizing: Moving from the Family Home

Although both single and married individuals may move many times during adulthood, relocating in later life often involves downsizing to a smaller home. Instead of buying something larger to accommodate a growing family, older adults are frequently interested in having less space and fewer home maintenance responsibilities. For some, selling the family home can be a result of a disability, an illness, or the death of a loved one. For others, this transition is based on a desire to be near family or to experience a new retirement lifestyle in a different area of the country. Regardless of the reason for the move, downsizing from a family home can be a physically exhausting and emotionally draining experience. In many cases, possessions have been accumulated over a number of years and not everything can (or should) be moved. What results is the need to sift, sort, donate, and dispose of a variety of personal items.
Below are a few suggestions on how to get started, what to do with all you have, and tips for keeping things peaceful.

How to Get Started

  • Start with the rooms you use the least: In most family homes there are rooms that are not always used on a daily basis, such as guest bedrooms, basements, or living rooms. Start the sorting process in these rooms and avoid cluttering the areas of the home used regularly.
  • Start with large items: In order to feel you are making progress, in each room start with the largest items and move towards the smallest. For example, identify what you will do with the furniture before you start on the knick-knacks.
  • Have a sorting system: Sort items by using stickers, making piles, or making detailed lists of what will be kept, what will be given away and to where, and what is still undecided.
  • Write down family history: Take the time to write down special memories or any family history that is connected to special items. This information will be cherished for generations to come and will contribute to the value of family heirlooms.
  • Work in scheduled blocks of time: Plan to sort items for periods of no more than two hours at a time. The process of revisiting memories and making decisions about items you have lived with for many years can be emotionally difficult. You will feel less overwhelmed and make better decisions if you take regular breaks and allow yourself time to digest what is happening.
  • Start early and don't rush yourself: Be sure to plan plenty of time for the sifting and sorting process. Take moments to laugh at old pictures, read old letters, and grieve for losses. If you can't decide what to do with an item, set it aside and return to it later. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you and your situation.

What to Do With All This Stuff

  • Keep the items that you treasure the most: Make a list of items you refuse to part with and keep that list in sight as you sort through other possessions. You may need to amend this list as you come across new things but it will remind you that everything is not of equal value.
  • Consider bequeathing items now: Identify those items you want certain family members to have and consider what items you are willing to bequest now. Remember, you may get more pleasure out of seeing your granddaughter enjoy your china at the next family event than knowing she will have it after you are gone.
  • Get rid of things you no longer need: Be realistic about what items you use regularly and what items you are just used to having around. The electric carving knife you use at Thanksgiving may not be as necessary as the toaster oven you use every morning.
  • Consider having a garage sale or home auction: Having enough items that are likely to net a profit (furniture, antiques, electronics) may make the effort of having a garage sale worthwhile. Alternatively, if your possessions are potentially of substantial value, consider holding a home auction. You can often hire a service agency to catalog and appraise your possessions and coordinate a home auction for a percentage of the profit.
  • Donate to charity: For those items you cannot give away as gifts or sell for profit, make a tax deductible donation to charity. Often traditional charity organizations will pick-up donated items. Consider thinking of specific organizations for specific items, for example, donating your professional wardrobe to an abused women's shelter or employment assistance program; donating books to the local library sale; offering furniture to the Red Cross for fire victims; or giving old instruments to a school music program.
  • Have the kids remove their stuff: Don't hesitate to tell the adult children it is time to collect their childhood belongings and store their own mementos. Give them a deadline that works with your schedule and warn them that anything leftover will be donated to charity. You may be surprised at how much they decide not to store themselves!

Dividing Things Peacefully

  • Agree on a system: In order to avoid disagreements among adult children and other family members, create a clear system for identifying who gets what. One idea is to assign each family member a colored sticker and identify items accordingly. An alternative is to have family members take turns choosing items they would like to have. In both cases it is good to clearly outline what items are available for the taking.
  • Be sure everyone gets something special: Even though disagreements may still occur, agreeable solutions may be achieved more readily if everyone feels they received something meaningful to them.
  • Encourage negotiation: If disagreements happen despite your efforts, encourage family members to negotiate amongst themselves. Someone may be willing to trade an item with financial worth for something with more sentimental value. If these exchanges occur, be sure not to take offense.
Leaving a family home can be a bittersweet event that involves revisiting many painful and joyful memories. During the process of downsizing we may be surprised at how attached we have become to our possessions and how difficult it might seem to part with them. It is important to remember, however, that it is the relationships in our lives that give us the most pleasure. A life filled with possessions is no competition to a life filled with family, friends, and meaningful connections.


AARP. (April 2004). How to divide things peacefully. Retrieved on December 2, 2004 from
Hetzer, L. & Hulstrand, J. (2004). Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang Publishers.
Ronnekamp, S. (2003). Downsizing from the family home. Retrieved on December 2, 2004 from
Click here for the PDF version of this Fact Sheet.

Author: Christine Price, Ph.D., Extension State Gerontology Specialist, The Ohio State University

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Declutter Your Easter

Holidays are notorious for bringing clutter into your home. Fight against it! I wrote this post regarding Christmas, but it applies to Easter as well.

Here are some ideas to keep your Easter baskets clutter and junk free:

  • Give less! Kids don't need a lot to get excited. Give a few meaningful things. When you give too many things, kids don't learn to appreciate the few. You are then creating a future generation who doesn't know how to be content without lots of things. Smaller baskets will help you achieve this.
  • Avoid the Dollar Store (and the Dollar section of Target). There are some things that may be worth bringing them into your home. Don't get things just because you need to fill the basket or because they are cheap.
  • Go consumable. And it doesn't have to be candy! One of my daughters loves macaroni and cheese. She'd eat it at every meal for months in a row if I let her. Guess what's in her Easter basket? Yup, a box of mac and cheese. 
  • Go educational. Books! Books! Books! This is one of my favorite things to put in Easter baskets because I love to read and want to foster that in my children. Movies are also a great option.
  • Office Supplies. This one may turn some heads. For older kids or younger kids who go through tape and glue like crazy, put some office or art supplies in the basket.
  • Gardening. Stick some packets of seeds and a cute flower pot in the basket. Not only is it a great learning activity, but provides great family time as well.
Have a wonderful (and clutter free) Easter!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ten in Ten on the Tenth - Spring

Welcome to my organization blog! If you are new, this post is one of a series that happens on the 10th of the month. It is 10 things that you can do when you have an extra 10 minutes. They are hopefully more productive than checking Facebook or Pinterest!

It feels like spring time here in Charlotte. Beautiful weather. Trees budding. Bulbs blooming. And clocks springing forward. In honor of spring, here are 10 things related to spring that you can do in 10 minutes or less!

1. Clean out an outside flower pot that has old dirt and leaves in it.
2. Make a list of spring cleaning you want to do.
3. Make a list of plants or flowers that you'd like to have in your yard, garden, or porch this spring and summer.
4. Prune a tree or bush.
5. Wash and/or clean out your bird bath or feeder, if you have one.
6. If you don't have a bird bath or feeder, go outside and find a good spot for one...they are lovely!
7. Go take a look at your gardening and/or spring cleaning tools...are they all still in good shape or will you need to buy more?
8. Check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors...change the batteries if needed.
9. Go look outside to see if your gutters need to be cleaned.
10. Take a look at your car records to see if it needs to be serviced or if it needs any work.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Charlotte Observer!

I had a great honor a few weeks ago to be interviewed by the talented reporter Crystal O'Gorman from the Charlotte Observer. I got to tell her about my passion for making life more meaningful through simplification and how I got started in my quest to simplify my life.

I was nursing my newborn baby standing in the kitchen as I tried to pull together a healthy dinner. My toddler was in tears, clinging to my legs . I felt stressed--not only because of the babies, but because the lack of peace and organization in my home. I opened the cabinet to get a certain pot, but I couldn't find it because there was just too much stuff. I was trying to throw together some kind of meal using whatever ingredients I could find because I hadn't planned our meals in advance.  So, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. I decided to take control back of my house and my life.  

I am deeply grateful to be able to share my story. The interview ran in Wednesday's paper. You can check out the article here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Linen Closet - Before and After

Tips for organizing your linen closet:
  • Purge. Toss or donate any items that you don't actually use. 
  • Clear bins. Be sure to have clear bins so you can easily see what's in them.
  • Label. My 2nd favorite organizing tool (right behind the trash can!) is a label maker. 
  • Like items together. Put all the shaving items together. Put the shampoo together. Put like medicine together. If you have children, put all their medicine in the same bin. Put your dog items together. You get the picture. 
  • Put sheets in pillowcases. This is the easiest way to organize sheets. Fold them and place them into the pillowcase. 
  • Use top shelf well. This should house items that you don't use often since it's more difficult to get to.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Maximizing Your Home’s Storage Potential

Guest post from Mike James.

We’ve all probably had the sneaking suspicion at one time or another that we just didn’t have enough space in our home. We accumulate a lot of things in our lifetimes and if you’re anything like me, you have a hard time letting go of even the most insignificant items. An old tennis racket with a broken string? I might decide to fix it somewhere down the line. Those stacks and stacks of blankets that could keep an Eskimo warm in the harshest snowstorm, but I need every one of those blankets. If you’re looking to maximize your home’s storage potential, here are a few tips.

Door Store

Take advantage of closet doors for storage space. You can attach containers to the backs of doors using discreet hooks and you just might be amazed by how much your storage capacity doubles. My wife set up a shoe caddy on the back of her closet door (shoe’s: one form of collection I just don’t understand) and was amazed at how much floor space it opened up in her closet.

Double Your Fun(ction)

Look for furniture items that can double as storage spaces. We have a chest set up in our living room that doubles as a coffee table and container for our family’s photo albums. This makes for a great way to store our photos and when we’re entertaining, we can easily grab a few albums and show our friends pictures without having to rummage through a closet or dig through boxes in the attic.

De-clutter the Counter

Our kitchen counters used to be magnets for clutter. If you can live by the mantra “A place for everything and everything in its place,” you will avoid a lot of headaches caused by the clutter. Something as simple as installing key hooks on the wall and designating a “stuff” drawer can go a long way toward de-cluttering your living space.

Working with self storage users all over the Unites States, Mike James helps customers store their stuff in places like an Anaheim self storage facility and in a self storage unit in Huntington Beach. When Mike is away from the office, you can find him playing with his kids, hiking or working on the current home improvement project.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Quote to Think About

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Favorte $5 or Less Tips From Pinterest

I've written about Pinterest before. And here I go again. This time I'm going to post some things that are quick and easy to do that will help you get organized.

1. Don't know where to keep your hair dryer? Maybe this will work.

2. Need help with your unraveling wrapping paper? How about this idea?

3. Need a ribbon over haul? Head over here to see how to best tame the ribbon.
4. Want to hang a wreath but don't like the nail through a cabinet look? Not keen on the hook showing? Try this.
5. Hate trying to find your phone charger on your night stand? Use this great tip for no more frustration.
6. Need scarf help (organizing that is...although Pinterest is also good at helping you tie them)? Check this great idea out.
7. Do you keep your aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc in your pantry and need a better system? I love this idea.
8. Have too many keys to keep them straight? Check out this great idea.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Live Simply?

The definition of simple living is going to be different for everyone. It depends on lots of things. Be sure to not use the definition someone else uses as a standard for you own!

However, the WHY to simple living is universal. 
  • Maximize Space - This doesn't mean cramming as much as possible into a space. It does mean using the space you have to the best of its ability. 
  • Minimize Chaos - Creating a simple life results in less chaos in all arenas of your life. You know where things are because you don't have a ton of things and they are organized well. 
  • Lessen Stress - In a simple and organized home, you walk in and feel peace. This is what you should strive for. This one is often a good litmus test for me. When I feel stress in my life, I ask myself if I'm living as simply as I want to be or as I can be. Usually the answer is no!
  • Be a Good Steward - When you don't keep things that you will never use, you pass them along to others who will. And when you don't own a ton of things, you're not spending a ton of money.
  • More Time - For the things you want to be doing - which I take is not looking for the flash light because your spaces aren't organized or trying to come up with a meal last minute because you didn't plan.
1. Step one to living a more simple life is to define Simple Living for your self.
2. Step two is to make small steps to achieve that in your life - whether that be purging your home of things, organizing what you have, working on time and home management, etc.
3. Step three is to enjoy some of the benefits listed above!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Healthy Expectations

From - classic example of having healthy expectations.

I am not Martha Stewart. You are not Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart is not even Martha Stewart. She has a huge (maybe endless?) budget. She has staff. Lots of staff.

You look at a picture of a beautiful home perfectly organized in beautiful and unique ways and think you can achieve the same thing in your home. But you can't. Or you read an organization tip and are then disappointed that it didn't turn out the way you thought it would. 

Here's a secret: it's not your fault. 

The issue is that most of us don't live in homes that would grace the pages of Southern Living. Even those homes aren't real. I mean, they exist. People really do live there - at least I assume. But those pictures were taken after a considerable amount of time, money, lighting, and effort. The camera people didn't just walk in a snap a quick picture. And those perfectly organized pantries? Beautifully organized desks? They took those pictures right after the initial organization and they will never look that good again.

Keep a healthy and realistic expectation of what your home will look like. Beautiful storage hat boxes on a cheap, thrift store, ugly bookcase will not look like something out of a magazine.That chalkboard paint on the pantry door is only going to look beautiful for a little bit. Then it will get scuffs and scratches. That really cute wreath DIY idea you see on the cover of Martha Stewart Living was actually the 16th one they did and ended up costing over $400.

Keep healthy expectations and you will enjoy your home more.

Disclaimer: I don't have anything against Martha Stewart, so please don't email me hateful things. I don't actually know how many times the wreath was done to make it look perfect, nor how much it actually cost. I'm sure even Martha Stewart has a budget. I can't define "a considerable amount of time, money, lighting, and energy" that Southern Living takes to shoot a picture. Yada, yada, yada.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snack Bin - Simplify Your Snacking

"Mom, can I have a snack?" Right after breakfast. After lunch. And then again after dinner. That is my life with four children. They want to eat all the time. And I kinda do, too. It's sometimes hard to offer healthy options since veggies and fruits have to be prepared. So, I end up giving them some kind of salty snack, then grab some chocolate for me. Fine on occasion, but not every time. So, I found this idea on Pinterest and decided to simplify my life by doing it myself. I had one bin at first, until it became too difficult for me to remember which kid had eaten what. To avoid my toddler eating all the cheese and not choosing the veggies, I changed it to individual bins.

I put in things like cheese sticks, turkey slices, green peppers, blackberries, apples, trail mix, sugar snap peas, salad in a bag (a leaf of lettuce with some carrots), etc. Healthy options (and salty or sweet as a special treat). When my children ask for a snack, I tell them to get one from their snack bin.

It has revolutionized my day. And I'm not being dramatic (well, maybe a touch since I'd also say the same thing about electricity, the internet, and digital cameras).

I keep the same things in there until they are gone. Cheese is always the first thing gone. I don't restock the cheese until everything else has been eaten. Veggies and fruit are now the norm for the girls and me.

So if you want to save time, energy, and tantrums (kids, hopefully not you) - make a snack bin. This idea is also great for those without children!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ten in Ten on the Tenth

Here are 10 things you can do when you have an extra 10 minutes of doing nothing. If that ever happens.

1. Put in one load of laundry.
2. Get out your WD-40 and grease any squeaky doors in your home.
3. Don't have any WD-40? Go around and check the doors to see if you need to put it on your "to buy" list.
4. Clean a bathtub or shower.
5.Dust one set of blinds.
6. Purge expired medication.
7. Call someone (who won't chat more than 10 minutes!) just to say hello and let them know you're thinking about them.
8. Go through your unmentionables drawer and toss any apparel that should be tossed.
9. Go straighten up the books on a bookshelf.
10. Ask a friend out to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee..whatever works best for you.