Know your habits

All of us have bad habits. Some have more than others, but we all have things we would like to change. I will not even go into the whole list of habits I would like to change, but I’ve decided that there are several I want to work on:

Habit #1 – I tend to leave clean laundry in the laundry basket for too long.

I absolutely hate putting laundry away. I have no idea why, but I would seriously rather clean a bathroom than put laundry away. Not even just my bathroom. I would clean almost anyone’s bathroom if I had the choice between that and laundry. Then my clothes inevitably get wrinkled and I end up throwing some things back into the dryer with a wet washcloth to smooth them out again. How incredibly inefficient! So I’ve decided that I am only allowed to do one laundry load at a time. That means that one load must be fully put away before I start another. This should prevent the backlog.

I also discovered that I like putting away clothes better when my kids are around. I guess folding laundry is just boring to me. If I have a little guy nearby who wants to pretend to drive the ‘semi truck laundry basket,’ I”m much more likely to keep going.

Habit #2 – Leaving doors, drawers and cabinets open.

I used to be so good about this! Get a pen, close the drawer. Get a snack, close the pantry. Get a cup, close the cabinet. Simple, right? (Insert giant Family Feud buzzer sound) Not simple anymore. As I write this, I’m staring at an open pantry door. Ridiculous! It takes 1/2 a second to close it. (I just got up and closed the pantry door by the way). After baby #2 came along, I got a little flustered. Oh, and I always have a baby in my arms. So I just open and grab and walk away. Now I usually go back and close everything eventually, but in the meantime it creates a couple of problems:

-It looks messy.

-It can be dangerous. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped my head or a knee or elbow. And it’s even more of a safety issue for my little ones!

-Open drawers, etc encourage those curious little 3 year old hands to look inside, even if it’s a place where he knows he isn’t supposed to be lurking….Knife drawer, hot water heater closet, etc.

So this one should be easy to fix. It’s just about being aware of my tendencies and doing something about it.

Habit #3 – Not drinking enough water.

I just don’t really like water…so I don’t drink enough. This, in turn, makes me tired and achy, which makes me crabby, which makes my family crabby, which is a problem that is completely preventable! So I have a couple of options that will hopefully encourage me to hydrate sufficiently!

-We already have some Gatorade and Crystal Light mix. I need to utilize them more often. If I don’t feel like I’m drinking just water, I’ll drink more of it.

-I need to monitor how much water I actually drink. Some days, I’ll realize it’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I”m still on the first glass of water. So I’m devising a little chart that I can magnetize and monitor how many glasses I drink each day (pictures to come!). Now this won’t be fool proof and I won’t use it every day, I’m sure. However, it will make me think about it a little more and when something is in the forefront of your mind, you tend to take action a little more.

Example, many experts suggest taking 10,000 steps per day. I put a pedometer on for just day-to-day and realized I walk between 5,000-7,000 steps in a regular day, even if I don’t do any specific exercising. Now, I don’t always wear the pedometer and I don’t always get to 10,000 steps. But when I wear it, I see how quickly I can get to the goal during the day. And when I don’t wear it, I try to take extra steps just to be sure I’m maximizing my daily routine. Just by thinking about it, I have been able to change a bad habit into a good one.

Lessons Learned:

-Everyone has their own method for completing tasks. Find what way works for you in a particular task and heck with everyone else. Do it the way that YOU will actually get it done.

-Take care of your health so that you have the energy to take of the other things in life. Self devastating habits hurt more than just you. So drink that water, eat a carrot, take the stairs, quit smoking, whatever you need to do to inject healthy habits into your life.

-Habits DO NOT change overnight. Give yourself a break if it’s hard to establish a new routine. When you cut yourself some slack, you are more apt to continue to make changes.

There are several more general habits I would like to work on, such as being an over-zealous multitasker, but I will get into that later. For right now, I’m going to focus on making several small changes that will make my life easier, healthier and safer.

And I know I’ve said it before, but organizing is not just about where you put your stuff. It is how you function, how you live, how you feel. So evaluate your day-to-day situation and see if there are small changes that could make a big difference.

What habits do you want to work on changing?

~Erin

Bejeweled

I don’t have very much jewelry. I’m not a girlie girl and I don’t accessorize often. But I do like to gussy it up now and then and one thing I know is that if things are easily accessible, they are used more often. I was excited about my tackle box used as a travel jewelery case, which I mention here. However, my jewelry downfall is that all of my stuff was stored in little boxes or baskets all the time. I never saw it, so I never wore it. Enter the jewelry board project!

I wanted a pretty place to at least hang my necklaces and maybe a few bracelets. So I started the materials search. I found a cute frame at Goodwill for $4.99. I probably could have found one cheaper, but it was the right size and I found it right away, so I snagged it! And it already had the picture wire on it so I wouldn’t have to worry about how to hang it. I knew that I had some squares of cork at home that I had already bought, so between those two things, I was off to a good start.

Then I cut the cork to fit and actually stapled 2 pieces together to make 1 piece for the frame. I wanted to cover the cork in a pretty fabric, but instead of buying material, I shopped my house! I had an adorable shirt that I never wore because when I put it on I felt like I was 5 years old….

Forgive all of the wrinkles….I dug this puppy right out of the ‘Donate’ bag in my laundry room. So I just cut off the back of it to wrap around the cork board. However, it was so thin, you could see right through it. Soooo….I cut a piece of material out of a sheet that I had paid a couple bucks for with just something like this in mind. First I wrapped the sheet around the cork and then the yellow fabric from the shirt. I stapled them at the back so they wouldn’t shift.

Now that’s not very pretty, but I knew that it was the back and I was also going to cover it with a piece of cardboard.

I knew I was going to stick pushpins in the board, so I tried to get all cutesy. Big mistake. My plan was to take some leftover textured spray paint and give them all this great textured finish. Um….here’s what happened:

Riiiiiight. If you remember from my post on making plastic Bag Holders, this whole spray paint thing didn’t work out so well for that project either. So, I just found some clear push pins that would work just fine. Back to the frame…..

I actually liked the color of the frame, but the shade was a little too close to the color of the yellow fabric, so I painted the frame gray and then sanded it a little to lightly distress it:

Here’s what it looked like at this point. Cute, but a little boring:

So I added a few embellishments that I dug out of the hardly used scrap booking supplies:

Once I added the jewelry, I ended up covering a lot of the embellishments, so I actually moved almost all of them to the frame and …Ta Da!

The whole thing cost about $7.00 between the frame and the cork. I already had the material, leftover paint, sandpaper, staples and tacks. Yea!

Lessons learned:

1) If you are going to do a project like this, buy thicker cork or be prepared to double up the sheets. A standard tack was too long for the cork I had so that’s why I put cardboard behind it to make it thicker.

2) If you want to be able to rearrange the tacks or pushpins, use a durable fabric that can handle a little wear and tear. The fabric I used was extremely thin and fragile, but I knew that once the pushpins  were in, they were going to stay.

3) DO NOT try to spray paint pushpins :)

~Erin

Liebster Blog Award

Thank you, thank you to Kelly at Cobwebs, Cupcakes and Crayons for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award. This is a blog land award for new bloggers and helps to create a community of bloggers to share interests, passions and ideas.

Kelly’s blog is great for a lot of reasons. Here are few:

-She’s a super mom who is passionate about raising her little one with love, creativity and a little humility!

-She was a professional organizer and is as crazy about organizing as I am.

-She is striving to balance all of the passions in her life and make it work. Commendable and difficult, but doable! I particularly love here ongoing series called ‘Nap to It‘ where she details various projects she has done while her little Annabelle naps. It goes along with my 15 Minutes posts and shows that you don’t have to spend a whole day organizing to make a difference in your life.

Nominees are asked to nominate 5 other new bloggers and list 5 things about themselves.

Here are my nominees:

1) From Pinterest to Panache – This blog was born out of creativity and inspiration needing an outlet. I love her diaper caddy turned Crayon Caddy! I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with!

2) Making Life Simple - I couldn’t have put it better myself. Most people these days want to simplify and streamline. Each post on this blog is short and to the point, with a new Simplicity Tip each day. How….simple!

Now forgive me here. I am so new to the blogging world and am still building up the blogs I follow. Most of the ones I read daily are either not ‘new’ blogs or I can’t see how many followers or how new they are. So I’m only nominating 2 for now. However, I am slowly working on a blogroll for my sidebar so that I can feature my favorites!

Here are 5 facts about me:

1) I read A LOT. I read mostly non fiction, but I’ll throw in a fiction book every now and then. I was disappointed in both ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, but I did hop on the Hunger Games bandwagon and loved it. I’m currently reading a book called ‘Lasso the Wind’ by Timothy Egan.

2) I look at pictures on my computer all the time. I am definitely not one of those people who downloads my pics and forgets about them. I am constantly going through old pics, reorganizing, making albums, slideshows, etc. Love pictures!

3) If I could visit one place in the world, it would be Greece. Beautiful, historical, interesting. Someday…..

4) I have a ‘Life to Do list’ and some of the stranger ones are: swim with sharks, learn sign language and fly a kite (I seriously have never flown a kite).

5) My 3 year old son now asks me if we’re going to ‘organize something today’. Ha! Guess I’m rubbing off on him. :)

Anyways….thank you to Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons for helping to support one of my dreams!

~Erin

15 Minutes more

A couple months ago, I did a post called 15 Minutes, which you can read here. The concept was to either tackle small projects that would take 15 minutes or less or break down a bigger project into 15 minute segments so it was more easy to handle. This also increased the likelihood of a bigger project actually reaching completion at some point! Here are a couple more 15 minute accomplishments:

1) Big Project – Clean out the kitchen.    15 Minute Project – Clean out the Tupperware drawer.

Whose Tupperware drawer looks like this?

Well mine did before 15 minutes of organizing magic. Here’s the thing, the drawer doesn’t technically look a lot better now. However, some major things changed:

First I took out the extra stuff. In the before photo, you can see things like a Slap Chop (which, by they way, is one of the greatest inventions ever). That did NOT belong in there, so I found it a new home in the pantry.

I also had a box of Tupperware in the pantry which I hadn’t even opened yet, so it was taking up space and going unused. So I washed and dried all of the stuff in the box so I could put it in it’s rightful place.

Here’s the ‘After’ photo:

Now it’s not what I would call pretty. However, it is soooo much more functional and I actually have about 3 times as many containers in there as I did before. Also, when I want to use the Slap Chop, I just pull it off the pantry shelf,..no more digging through lids to get to it! Speaking of lids, I was also able to throw away several mystery lids (their only purpose was to frustrate me!).

2) Big Project – Clean out the linen closets.    15 Minute Project – Go through pillows and pillowcases.

Let me set the scene: picture me tossing and turning, night after night, constantly fluffing and rearranging my pillows, secretly switching mine with my husbands before he came to bed.

Scene 2: We have guests come into town and I pull the extra pillow out of the linen closet. The thought that comes to my mind is “Wow, this pillow feels extremely fluffy and comforting, I should use this in my room instead”. What actually happens is our guest uses it, I put it back and go back to tossing and turning.

Sooooo, I took 15 minutes and gathered every single pillow and pillowcase in the house. Several pillow cases went straight in the ‘Donate’ bag. Several pillows went straight in the trash for the crime of being closer to place mat thickness than pillow thickness.

I laid on every single pillow and had my husband do the same. We chose what pillow should go where and honestly, I have been a much more peaceful sleeper for the last few nights. How easy was that!

I did not take a picture of my ridiculous amount of pillows (let me also mention that I had 5 king size pillows and 21 king size pillowcases. Are you serious??!!!!). However, I did take a picture of our guest room bedspread for no particular reason. Love it!

I will continue with the kitchen and linen closet cleanouts soon, but for now, I’m satisfied with the progress and it didn’t take long at all!

~Erin

Impressed Guest…

I was so excited and honored to be able to do a guest post this week on Modern Christian Woman. See the post here.

Stephanie is a great resource for tasty, easy meals and a personal inspiration to me. With 5 kids running around, I’m absolutely amazed at not only how often she posts (I’m still trying to get over 3 posts per week!) but also the sheer number of great recipes she has to share.

Please check out her blog and see all that she has to offer!

This month she is a cook trying to organize. So I figured I might as well be an organizer trying to cook ;)

Now, I’m not quite ready to delve into a ton of new recipes all at once. So my plan is to take the old reliables and mix it up with a new dish here and there.

I already have some August projects in the works, so I’ll make September my month for food! Here is what I plan on organizing regarding food:

1) I am going to make some sort of cute board to put the week’s meal plan on. Here is an absolutely adorable one that I found on Pinterest from   Sarah Potter Photography

This is the menu board that looks the most fun to me and will make me actually want to meal plan I think!

2) I’m going to finish going through all of my cookbooks and picking out the recipes I would actually make. Then I’m going to make one giant recipe book of awesomeness (a phrase I will continuously use until said book of awesomeness is complete) that is filled with recipes that will actually get made. Here is my current shelf of cookbooks:

This, my friends, will NOT be here at the end of September!

3) I am going to try 1 new recipe each week. Between my cookbooks, blog inspiration recipes and Pinterest, I know I will have enough recipes to try a new one each week for years upon years!

So these are my September goals. I never actually laid out my August goals for you, but believe me, they are there. I will hopefully be posting some accomplishments soon!

Happy Cooking and Happy Organizing Everyone!

~Erin

Just a beginner

So in my journeys through blog land, I am constantly coming across cute diy/craft projects I would love to try. The problem is that I’m not very crafty. I try my darndest and usually disappoint myself, but I get an A for effort. I have oodles of scrapbooking stuff, but it sits mostly unused…It’s sits well organized, but still unused. I also have a plethora of yarn, material, paint, and other stuff I just ‘know I’ll get to someday.’ Because I WANT to be crafty. I mean I desperately want to be!

So, I’m taking baby steps. Today’s project was finding a cute and cheap way to store plastic trash bags in my bathrooms. Up until now, they have just been shoved under the sinks, only to have me find that they have somehow grown and multiplied and now take up about 80% of the space. I had to get these under control!

So I took two empty containers I had been saving for just this sort of thing (one was a powdered Gatorade container and one was for powdered baby formula).

My plan was to cut one small hole in each lid so I could get the bags out and then cover the bin with scrapbook paper. Easy breezy right? Well, I hit a couple of roadblocks:

-First, the diameter of the cans was bigger than my scrapbook paper so the paper didn’t fit all the way around! I thought to myself: “Not only is this under my bathroom counter, but if I turn the uncovered part to the back, no one will see right? Well, in theory that is correct. But I just couldn’t bring myself to leave my first craft project so sub par.  So I cut an additional strip of paper to cover the blank areas.

-New problem! Now there were two visible seams on each container. Again, I could have just turned them around, but no! I needed a way to cover them. So I took some ribbon and glued it down the length of each seam.

-Ta da, right? Well, no. Now the space in between the ribbons looked weird and empty so I needed to add something. So I found some scrapbooking letters I had and personalized a little bit.

-Now for the lids. I thought I was soooo smart. I was going to use up the rest of a can of textured spray paint we had to paint the lids since they were either bright white or bright purple. So I started spraying. Well, one of them got a giant pool of spray paint in the middle and then I ran out of the paint when the other one was halfway done. After the paint dried, the ‘pool’ didn’t look so bad so I used that lid. I just used a different white lid for the other one and it doesn’t bother me.

So here they are!

Bag Holders – Before & After

A homemade, cute and essentially free place to store my little trash bags! And after one day, my husband said “I already used your little trash bag holder thingy”.

Cute and useful!

More projects to come!

~Erin

It takes a houseguest.

Who vacuums their house and make Tex Mex Calzones at 10 at night? This girl!!!!

Now that is not normally the case. However, I have my wonderful friend Gabby on her way to visit me as we speak and we always go the extra mile for house guests! I have been having this big argument with myself about why I don’t do the ‘super clean’ when I DON’T have guests coming. This self argument has made me feel a little guilty about not always being on top of my housework. But here is what I have come up with:

It is absolutely ok that I do crazy, middle of the night cleaning when I have guests coming. It shows that I care about my house and how my guests feel when they get here. We normally keep a pretty clean house so it’s not a drastic change from the ordinary status, I just up the anty when it comes to how fast I do it. But I want my guests to feel they are coming somewhere clean and cozy and I don’t have to worry about all that stuff during the visit.

I have also realized that it is absolutely ok to NOT do crazy cleaning all the time. Like I said, we keep our home pretty clean, but who doesn’t want the freedom to leave the dishes in the sink one night or not do the laundry or bypass the den in dusting this time. I realized it is ok to cut yourself some slack if it means a more peaceful and enjoyable life. It will probably also mean more precious time with the ones you love.

Anyways, enough philosophizing!

So last night I made Tex Mex Calzones. I got the recipe from the March Menu at Once a Month Mom. These are delicious! So I made two batches, one for this week and one to freeze.

 

So they are not the prettiest things ever, but they are delicious.  And it’s the kind of meal that you could mix up with a lot of different ingredients depending on the types of meat, veggies and spices you have on hand. Love it!

So I clean my house better for houseguests than I do for myself. I make food that isn’t pretty. And the only way to get me to throw away a pair of my flip flops is because my dog ate one of them:

Oh, Sadie

 

We are not perfect beings, and we shouldn’t try to be. Being comfortable with our faults is as important as pride in our accomplishments. So I’m off to have a fun visit with a good friend and I’ll post soon!

 

~Erin

Inspiration week…and a half

Ok, so this is not a calendar week, but I started inspiration week on a weird day, so let’s continue! This past weekend was a full one. We did some hanging out with friends, a drive on some forest service roads, and a little downtime with the kids. But in the midst of that, I created a whirlwind disaster in my kitchen.

Don’t judge me! I was re-doing my pantry and had every single thing stacked on the counter, tables, window sills, dog cage, etc. I’ll show you the outcome of that project shortly. There are still a few final touches I want to add. Between that gigantic project and a bunch of smaller ones, I didn’t even turn on my computer all weekend. I think that is seriously a first in years!!!!

Anyways…..today’s inspiration is from KatsMeoww. Her post on Procrastinating (read it here) has quickly changed my life for the better! How cute is this girl’s blog???? Love it!

In her post, she quotes a line from ‘The Happiness Project”:

“Don’t put off anything you can do in less than a minute.”

Love this idea so much that it is ridiculous. In fact, I just signed up for ‘The Happiness Project” blog. Follow it here.

How often do you think “I should clean that mirror later” or “I’ll just make my bed tomorrow” or any of a zillion simple tasks that you put off for no good reason at all. Well, I’m taking this ‘less than a minute’ concept as a personal challenge. I am doing quick things like making my bed, wiping down the bathroom counter every day, flossing! Over the weekend, I super glued a little knob back onto a small drawer. That thing had been sitting there for over a month! My husband used Wd-40 on the pantry which has been squeaking since who knows when!

The point is, we often spend more time considering whether to do something than it would actually take to just complete the task. So get up right now and do one small thing that takes less than a minute! Clear it off your to do list and out of your head so you can focus on more important things.

Speaking of more important things…take 1 minute to tell your spouse you love them, or give your kids an extra hug or two, write a quick email to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. For me, it’s time to start making minutes count. They pass so quickly, let’s not waste them!

~Erin

Inspiration Week Continues

Today’s inspiration comes from Thea over at Organized Living Essentials. You can find her right here.

I’ve mentioned her blog before and how I love the format. She always presents a situation, a problem and then a practical solution. I think when you’re faced with a problem, it’s a great idea to lay it out and then come up with a realistic plan to solve it.
Her post this week called ’10 Key Ideas to Being Organized‘ inspired me in a couple of ways. Here is the mini poster she made to illustrate her great ideas, which all start with the letter P:

Here is why I like this concept:

-She thought about a lot of aspects that surround organizing. It is not just about putting things in a specific place. It is about how you process ideas and utilize systems. It is about making things work for you, even if they might not work for someone else. It’s about learning and growing. Organizing is much, much more than what goes on which shelf. It is about defining a way to be efficient and create spaces that bring you peace and joy.

-Another thing I love about this is that they all start with P! Sometimes we just need a way to help us remember things. Whether it’s things that start with the same letter or an acronym or some other trick, it’s great to have an easy way to remember something important. One of the acronyms I love is S.P.A.C.E. It was coined by organizing expert Julie Morgenstern and S.P.A.C.E. stands for:

Sort, Purge, Assign, Containerize and Equalize.

By breaking down something into simple steps, Julie helps people and business truly assess their problems and systematically solve them.

So it’s all about looking at your problem and finding efficient and possibly creative ways to solve it. Thanks Thea and Julie for the inspiration!

~Erin

Inspiration Week!

This week, I’m using the inspiration I find in other bloggers to hopefully inspire others!

First up on the docket! Life sprinkles!

This is the blog that belongs to my dearest, sweetest friend Kristi and you can find her blog here.

It is a blog about healthy living and balance, two things I”m not sure that I maintain. Well, balance maybe. But I’m not the healthiest. I don’t love to cook, or even like it that much. I am notorious for eating ridiculous amounts of mac & cheese, frozen waffles and PB&J. And my exercise routine leaves something (a lot) to be desired. However, Kristi is my go to girl for easy healthy recipes and workout motivations. She is also a vet, so she is burdened with my frequent calls and texts that sound something like this:

“All 4 of Molly’s paws are bright red. What do I do?”

“Molly’s face has swollen to the size of a watermelon. What do I do?”

“Molly ate an entire bag of peppermints and Hershey’s kisses. What do I do?”

Notice how all of these ailments pertain to Molly, though we have 2 other dogs. Hmmmm……

Our 3 Girls!

Anyways, the point is that Kristi is super busy but also super motivated and creative with her exercise and nutrition. She recently did a post on the foods that she always has on hand at her house.  Link to it here.

I was inspired to think about the things I like to have on hand at all times. Here’s my partial list:

-Fruit – I agree with Kristi that bananas are a must have. We buy them probably every time we go to the store. They are great for a quick snack, good for the kids (even our 6 month old who just started eating more solid food) and they can be used in a lot ways – on cereal, on pancakes, in shakes, etc. We also always have berries or grapes.  These are great by themselves or in a snack.

-Veggies – Again, I second Kristi in that we ALWAYS have carrots at our house. Good for adults, kids and dogs alike! The other veggie I always like to have is spinach. I love spinach salads, but I also like to use it in pasta or in chicken dishes. I know all you smoothie makers out there will tell me to put it in smoothies. I’m still trying to get on the smoothie train. I love the idea and the variety, I just haven’t fully hopped on board yet.

-Meatballs – seriously, I love meatballs. I used to buy the Trader Joe’s brand, but there are no Trader Joe’s in Colorado (which makes my heart ache more than just a little bit). So now, I buy them at Walmart or the grocery store. Great in pasta, meatball sandwiches or a quick snack.

Sooooo Yummy

-Fajita Seasoning – This might sound a little weird, but this is on my list and I’ve never made fajitas. I use it for everything else though…tacos, burritos, rice. The possibilities are endless. And I actually only use about 1/8 of the little package each time, so that 90 cents goes a long way!

-Oreos – they are my weakness and if I’m craving a giant piece of chocolate cake, 1 or 2 Oreos will satisfy the craving just fine.

-Frozen Veggies – I buy these by the truckload. I am not very good at using fresh veggies in meals (as hard as I try!) but I am able to get a lot of variety form the frozen kind. Of course, I have a stockpile of the tried and true ‘peas and carrots’, but I also get broccoli and cauliflower, snap peas, lima beans and stir fry mixes. It helps keep the boring menu not quite so boring.

-Several kinds of pasta – I LOVE pasta. Now it’s certainly not the healthiest meal option, but if you add a protein source and some veggies, it lessens the blow. I like spaghetti, but I don’t want it all the time. So I get a few different kinds to mix it up. I have to admit I get as excited as my 3 year old does when I announce we’re going to have bow-tie pasta tonight (Farafelle for you pasta connoisseurs)!

I might order this poster to hang in my pantry. Love Pasta!

So how does this possibly apply to being organized? Well, I’ll tell you:

-First, if you know what you like and use a lot, it will make grocery lists and shopping much more efficient.

-Second, if you are stockpiling items you know you will use, you will most likely save money because you will not being throwing away a lot of items that went unused.

-Third, when the inevitable crazy day comes and you have not even started thinking about dinner, it is great to know that you have several quick, easy and reliable options for meals that are always on hand.

So, thank you to Kristi at Life Sprinkles for being my inspiration in so many ways! More inspiration to come later on this week!

~Erin