Easy Christmas Listing!

I’m well on my way to Christmas Spirit Town over here. Decorations are out (and strewn ALL over the floor, dining room table, kitchen, etc), Christmas cards are mailed (is that ridiculous?), and Christmas lists are in full swing. Here are a couple ways I organize my lists:

-I always start a file for Christmas present ideas in my computer around August (if my husband is reading this: “don’t search for the list!”). That way, as I think of things I can jot them down so I won’t forget them. I start the list for ideas for my whole family as well as myself.

I have three columns in the list: 1 column for me, the hubby and the kiddos, 1 column for my side of the family and 1 column for my husband’s side of the family. I list everyone’s name and then leave space underneath the name for gift ideas.

-When November comes, I evaluate the list and add, delete, rearrange as needed. Then I highlight everything on the lists ( I highlight in green to show my ever-permeating Christmas spirit). :) As I purchase gifts off of the list, I un-highlight them. That way I can see with a quick glance what I still need to buy.

-Here is my absolutely favorite list tool which I started using this year…..Amazon Wish Lists!!!!!

If you haven’t already seen this, it is worth a look-see!

If you are logged in on Amazon, you can see the ‘Wish List’ drop down box on the the far right near the top. If you click it, it will take you to the ‘Wish List’ page, where you can add or edit lists. If you just hover over ‘wish list’, a drop down box will appear with your current lists and several other options.

Things I love about the Wish List feature:

1) You can create multiple lists for different people or occasions. I have created one for myself and one for each of the kids.  You can then email the lists right from Amazon or copy and paste the links in a regular email to send to friends and family.

2) The lists work like any store registry so you should be able to avoid getting duplicate gifts! You can view all items on the original list, but it defaults to showing items that haven’t been purchased by someone looking at the list. This is great because I emailed the kid’s Amazon wish lists to both sides of the family. Usually I carefully split the lists I give to different family members to avoid duplicates, but this solves that problem!

3) As the list ‘owner’, you can look to see what was purchased by someone. However, someone at Amazon took their thinking pill and decided to ‘hide’ what was purchased unless you click a button to ‘reveal the gift’. This is great because if I’m looking at my own list, I don’t necessarily want to know if something was purchased or not. I can go to ‘purchased’ and ‘reveal the gifts’ if I want to be sneaky, but I wouldn’t do that…..would I?

4) You can add items to lists from any website, even if they are not sold on Amazon! You have to install the Wish List add on to your computer, but then you can add away. I’m thinking Etsy products are goin’ on the Amazon list!

Please note that these are strictly my opinions and not an advertisement for Amazon in any way. However, I have found the Wish List feature to be easy, useful and my new go-to web tool for birthdays and Christmas.

How do you keep your holiday lists organized?

~Erin

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving at our house. We stayed at home and it was just the 4 of us. It was calm and relaxing and full of fun and food. I wanted to give a little wrap up of the holiday and list some things that made it easier, as holidays have a tendency to be stressful.

First we had our Thanksgiving crafts, which we did over the last week and a half. There was, of course, the Cardboard Turkey Game:

We also did a leaf wreath, which we made out of aspen leaves from the yard and a paper plate with the center cut out.

Then I printed an acorn coloring page that I downloaded and Evan colored it and added some stickers.

I always take pictures of the kid’s crafts. That way I have them all on my computer in case something happens to the actual crafts. It’s also great because I am able to print or scrapbook the photos of items I don’t keep. Is it horrible that the turkey box is already on it’s way to turkey box heaven in the recycle bin? At least I have great photos and now I’m not stuck keeping a bunch of things I don’t need to keep.

The evening before Thanksgiving, I did as much prep as possible. I seasoned the turkey, peeled the potatoes, and made a casserole. I also set out the dishes, utensils and dry ingredients I would need for all of the other dishes along with a copy of each recipe. The prepping was great because it meant I didn’t have to do ANYTHING on Thanksgiving day until after noon when I put the turkey in the oven. Awesome.

We ate a light lunch, including a Turkey themed PBJ for Evan (inspired by Pinterest here):


Mine wasn’t picture perfect like all the ones I saw on Pinterest, but Evan loved it, so who cares? :)

It was actually a very relaxing day. And even though it was just the 4 of us at our house celebrating, we still made enough food to last until New Years.  :)

And of course I put together my Thanksgiving folder to help keep all of my Thanksgiving inspiration in one place. I made a folder for Halloween (which you can see here) and I loved it so much, I decided to do one for every major holiday.

So I started by making title pages for each category, such as Thanksgiving dinner, appetizers, crafts, decorations, etc.

I found inspiration on blogs, Pinterest, websites, magazines and our already established traditions. I printed photos of crafts I wanted to try, coloring pages for the kids,

recipes that looked good, and decorations I thought were pretty.

I also included the recipes that I have used for years on Thanksgiving. That way, I don’t have to dig them out of another cookbook because they are all in the Turkey Trot Folder!

Another thing I did was print a page with directions for cooking the turkey. I realized that I did not want to spend another year trying to read the directions while trying to avoid touching the raw turkey wrapper they are printed on. (Sidenote….My Thanksgiving tip is to take off the wrapper around the turkey while it is completely in the sink. On Wednesday night, I cut a small slit in the wrapper and expected to gently pull it off as I held it over the sink. You know how you try to gently open a bag of chips and then the bag explodes and chips go everywhere? Well, that happened to me. Except it wasn’t chip crumbs…it was raw turkey juice….everywhere.)

Anyways! So now I have a great resource for all my Thanksgiving projects. I plan on adding to it every year as I find new inspiration and try new recipes. You can find many of the ideas I put in the folder on my Thanksgiving Pinterest Board. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Now on to Christmas!

~Erin

 

 

 

Make way for turkey…fridge and freezer cleanout

Two of the 15 minute projects in my House Project List were to clean out the fridge and freezer. Though these each took about 20 minutes, I figure they would be small enough to consider ’15 Minute Projects.’ I will not even bore you with a before pic of my fridge and freezer because truthfully, it doesn’t look that different from the after pic. I credit most of that to the fact that I try to do a little cleaning each week. Before I grocery shop, I try to wipe down the shelves and throw away anything that is past it prime. I do it before grocery shopping because that is when the fridge is the most empty each week.
So these photos are pretty much just to prove that I actually did clean the entire fridge and freezer:

I took everything out (except for the frozen veggies in the veggie drawer!) and wiped down all shelves and sides. One added bonus of this project was that I forgot exactly where the shelves in the freezer were. So I ended up putting them back in a slightly different configuration.

As it turns out, I had never really evaluated where the shelves were placed before. The new shelf placement is about a million times more effective. I’m not sure why I thought a GIGANTIC bottom shelf optimized the space because…it didn’t. It was just wasted. The new configuration allows me to fit more items and to see them more clearly. Pretty much everything is standing up on end, making use of the vertical space and allowing me to see all of the labels. Happy Accident!

So here’s the after pic:

It’s not beautiful or stylishly organized, but it’s super functional and works perfectly for me and my family.  Here are some things I like about this project and my fridge!

~I have a shelf reserved for leftovers so I never have to rearrange the whole fridge to put away all my beautifully saran wrapped and tin foiled items.

~I have honestly never seen so many condiments as what we have in our fridge. The obligatory mustard and ketchup? Yep, they are there. However, my fridge is also the home to tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce…are you bored yet? That’s why I love that my fridge has so much room in the door for all of these.

-This project was also timely since we need to make sure we have room for Thanksgiving dinner items! You can see there’s a large turkey on the bottom shelf of the fridge and there is a big bag of ice on the bottom shelf of the freezer. My new rule of thumb is going to be that I ALWAYS want to have enough room for a large turkey and a large bag of ice. That way I will always have room and the fridge and freezer should never get overloaded.

-I’m so glad I was taking pictures for this post because it allowed me to evaluate how important shelf placement is. I recommend taking pictures before projects like this so you can evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Once you have a system that works, you’ll have a photo reference so you can make sure you get things back in the right place.

Is it just me that gets excited about cleaning out the fridge? Probably. But know that if you keep up with it, a complete clean out only needs to take about 15 minutes.

~Erin

Kid’s Magnet Board

I finally finished a project that was way too long in the making. It actually went through several concepts and incarnations before I got to the final product. I wanted to make a magnet board for the kids that I could keep in the ‘monkey cave’ in their room.  I’ll go into more detail on monkey cave another day, but basically it is a second closet in their room that we converted into a little play area for them.

The first magnet board concept was a board painted with magnetic paint. I went to Home Depot and they actually had 2′ x 4′ sheets of craft wood that was thin, durable and fairly smooth. They cut it into two 2′ x 2′ squares for me and I painted them with magnetic paint.

I did two coats of the magnetic paint with a small roller. Once that had dried, I painted 2 thin layers of paint I had used for my pantry. I used as little paint as possible for this part because the magnetic paint loses some of its’ magnetic properties under too many layers of latex paint. My plan was to add some decorative trim around the edges and have a cute and finished looking magnet board. Before I was able to complete that step, I came across this at a yard sale:

It’s a large cabinet door front that was just begging to be up-cycled into something fun. I actually got 3 cabinet door fronts in different sizes and I have no idea what the other 2 will turn into yet. Pretty much as soon as I got home from the yard sale, I took the hardware off of one and sanded the door front.

After that, I applied a couple of layers of Kilz primer. Now learn from me here, people. I did NOT stir the primer as well as I should have and when I first started applying it, it looked like I had just poured some Elmers glue on there and then topped it with a heavy dose of olive oil. It was completely separated and it was a horrible mess. I let it dry and then tried to re-sand, but it created little bubbles that are still there to this day! Sooooo, stir primer extremely vigorously and then apply thin coats until you get the coverage desired. Also, make sure to allow ample drying time. My patience was tested here and I think I went in a little early with the re-coats!

I painted the trim with some green paint I had left from another project. I forgot to take a photo of this step, so you’ll have to use your imagination. I considered using the magnetic paint again, but decided to try a sheet of metal. I bought a thin piece of metal from Lowe’s and cut it to fit the inside of the cabinet door panel. I used tin snips, which wasn’t easy on a 4′ piece of metal, but we had them around so that’s what I used.

I knew I wanted to cover the metal with fabric before I put it in the ‘frame’ so off to my local fabric store I went. Normally when I go into a store and someone asks me if they can help me find anything, my standard answer is “No, thank you, I’m just looking.”

When I went in the fabric store and the lady asked that question, my answer was….”I need a cotton fabric that won’t wrinkle and is easy to iron, and is fairly thin but not easy to tear and I would like a light color (but not too pastel) and it should have a little bit of a print on it (but not too distracting) and it can’t clash with light green.” Poor lady.

So I went home with my thoroughly searched for fabric. Although I felt all of my requirements above were important the two most important were that it was fairly wrinkle-free and that it was pretty thin. If I had used a thick fabric, the magnets would not stick as well. I ironed my new purchase and then my husband and I glued it around the metal sheet using Liquid Nails. I made sure to pull it taut so that it wouldn’t wrinkle on the front. Then I put a bunch of books on it and left it overnight.

The next day, we glued the fabric covered metal to the inside of the cabinet door and let it sit under books and weights for another 24 hours. Then, finally……A Completed Project!

I love it.And more importantly, the kids love it. I set it in our play room/ guest room for the kids to see it and play with it. When I said I was going to put it in Monkey Cave, you should have seen the meltdown. Evan insisted it had to stay in the playroom. So, the playroom it is. But I kept looking at the lonely Monkey Cave wall where I had envisioned the board. I decided a magnet board was going in there whether Evan liked it or not! So I went back to my original 2′ x 2′ board with magnetic paint. To be honest, I just didn’t have the energy to cut, paint and glue trim around the edges. However, I had recently gone to a teaching store (my new favorite place!) and picked up some monkey paper borders. They didn’t work for my original intended purpose so they were just laying around. I decided to cut them to size and glue them to the edge of the 2′ x 2′ board.

Now I have two equally cute and functional magnet boards in different parts of our house. Are there about a million things I would do differently next time to make the finished product better? Yep. But for now, I’m pretty happy. One more Before & After? Okay!

~Erin

Turkey Box Craft

As an organizer, I’m always looking for ways to maximize the use of things. The other day I found the perfect way to combine two projects. Me and my 3 year old made a fun craft project that was also a game! I mentioned this project in my Collectively Creative post here. I got this idea out of book of Thanksgiving craft ideas that my mother in law gave me. I changed a few things, but I like how it turned out. It was pretty simple but a lot of fun. Here’s what you need:

1 medium size cardboard box and at least 1 tiny helper:

An assortment of construction paper in fall or ‘turkey inspired’ colors:

And glue and scissors. That’s all you need.

First I cut the flaps off of one end of the box. This end will be the ‘bottom’ of the turkey. Then I drew a triangle on one of the bigger sides and cut it out with the scissors. This will be the mouth and you need to make the triangle pretty big.

Then I cut out construction paper shapes for the eyes, beak and weird turkey thing that hangs on their face over their beak. (Not sure what that’s about). I let Evan help me glue them on.

Then I cut out feathers from various pieces of construction paper and glued them to the top of the box. I had actually glued a brown piece of paper to the top of the box first to give me an even surface for the feathers. I also took one of the cardboard flaps I had cut off, bent it and taped it to the back of the feathers. This helps them stand up straight instead of falling backwards.

The instructions then say to make little bean bags out of material to use as ‘corn’ for the turkey, but we didn’t do that. Instead we crumpled up pieces of construction paper that had been cut in half. We used yellow paper for corn, but then Evan decided the turkey was REALLY hungry and wanted cherries, blackberries and grapes so off we went, crumpling up every color in the rainbow.

The best thing about this part of the craft is that it’s really fun, but it is also a great hand strengthener in little kids and helps them develop fine motor skills because of how their hands have to move.

Now it’s time to feed the cardboard turkey!

Both kids could do this part!

The kids took turns putting the ‘food’ in the turkey’s mouth. Evan also stood back and practiced throwing the food into the mouth. That was why we needed to make the triangle mouth so big, so that he could toss the paper in.

Great things about this project:

-It is very hands on.

-It involves lots of different skills for little kids to practice, like cutting, gluing, crumpling, throwing, gluing and sorting.

-The kids are able to get creative with the colors used and also use their imaginations when it comes to what the turkey is ‘eating’

-I got to see some adorable teamwork from 2 sweet little boys! (Can you tell it was pajama day at our house?)

This was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, create a memory with the kids and make a game that they could keep playing with.

I recommend this one!

~Erin

T.H.A.N.K.F.U.L. for my Kiddos

I”m excited to be a part of another edition of Collectively Creative, thought up by the incredibly organized Kelly over at Cobwebs, Cupcakes and Crayons. The theme for this month is, appropriately, being Thankful.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I did a project using the letters in the word THANKFUL. I took each letter and did an activity with my kids represented by that letter. It was a little harder to do with my younger son since he’s only 9 months old, but we included him as much as we could!

We’re so busy that we don’t often get a chance to sit down and just talk, even with out own children! So Evan and I made some hot chocolate and had one of our ‘Hot Chocolate Chats’. If it’s not too cold, we like to sit on the front porch, but it was snowing and freezing this weekend, so we cuddled on the couch and talked about our day and what we were going to do for the rest of the weekend.

Sometimes we get so caught up in activities and schedules, we forget that the most important thing is just being together.

I talked with the kids about Thanksgiving and then they helped me go through our cookbooks to look for recipes and make our grocery list for Turkey Day! Evan got his own paper and a crayon so he could make his ‘list.’

I had to do this anyways so I just asked the kids to help. We played ‘Cookbook Dominos’ and lined up the hardback books upright and pushed them down like dominoes. Our 3 year old thought it was hilarious and it was even an activity our 9 month old could do.

I decided to do an art project that was also a game to get the kids in the Thanksgiving spirit.

This was a really cute cardboard box turkey project that I will post about soon!

This one is all about food. Evan helped me cook breakfast one day and Owen just ate!  Evan loves to help cook, even if it just means putting things back into the fridge. He also likes to pour and stir, so I try to include him as often as possible.

Then we went grocery shopping as a family to get all of the things on our list. I don’t have photos of either of these activities, but it’s nice to put the camera down every once in a while (which I don’t do often!)

The kids and I looked through some of the pictures we’ve taken in the last few days and are getting them printed. We also looked through Thanksgiving photos from the last few years and printed them for our new ‘Thanksgiving Through The Years’ album.Here’s one from last year:

I also sat and showed Evan some family videos on the computer. He loves to look at videos of our adventures. By adventures, I mean him running back and forth across the house chasing the dogs.

For this activity, Evan got to choose whatever sounded fun to him and that’s what we did! Evan wanted to roast marshmallows so we roasted them in our fireplace. It wasn’t quite the same as a campfire, but it was a lot of fun and Evan loved it!

We spent a day without computers, cartoons and video games. That is QUITE the accomplishment for us! I have to admit that there was football on tv. However, me and the kids busied ourselves with other activities and got out of the ‘technology zone’ all day long! It was great (and a little difficult). It was definitely worth it though. I need to add that to my weekly routine!

My kids love music so we spent a while listening to kid’s songs on a couple of kid music CDs we have. It allows us to dance, sing and learn about instruments. Again, there are no pictures because you don’t really need to see a picture of me dancing to ‘Sally the Camel’, do you?

This project helped me to look at different ways I could interact with my kids and I think we all benefited from it in a lot of ways. Probably my favorite part was the ‘unplug’ project. It actually gave me time to do all of the other things on the THANKFUL list. I am definitely thankful for my kiddos!

There were a lot of other bloggers who participated in Collectively Creative this month to share how they were all thankful. Click on the links below to see their posts and be sure to check out the rest of their sites while you are there!

Our Family’s Thankful Journal (Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons)
Creating a Thankfulness Photo Album (Organizing Living Essentials)
Vegan Creamed Corn Cornbread (The Pancake Princess)
Thanksgiving Requests (Ponytail Kind of Day)
~Erin

Cleaning out cabinets and closets…

I was able to complete several more tasks from my To-Do list over the last few days. I finished 3 ‘15 minute Projects’ and 1 ‘Small Project’.

2 of the 15 minute tasks were very easy and didn’t even take the whole 15 minutes.  Yea! Here is the breakdown of all 4 projects:

1) I went through our printer desk in the office just to see if there is anything that needed attention. I threw away a couple of wayward twist ties, rolled up the stamps into more compact rolls, and took out 10 used ink cartridges that I’m going to take to an office supply store to recycle. I only took 10 out because we get rewards points for cartridges, but you can only drop off ten per month. This project only took about 4 minutes since I had organized everything in this desk during my big Office Organization.

2) The second project was going through my short sleeve shirts that were hanging in the closet. I had gone through them this past summer so they were also pretty well organized. However, I did manage to get rid of one item. I also turned all of the hangers around on the rod.

When I wear an item, it goes back on a normal facing hanger. If I don’t wear the item by the time next summer, I’ll know it because the hanger will be facing backwards. If the hanger is backwards at the end of spring, then the item goes in the donate bin!

3) I also went through a small cabinet in our den. I had already gone through another cabinet (which you can read about here), but there was one place left to organize in this room. Here is the before:

You can see 2 small drawers and then the bottom is a very shallow open area. At one point, there was a small shelf in here but now it’s just a big shallow space. Did someone break in and just steal this shelf? Nobody knows. There was an old DVD player in here which we decided to keep, but it moved upstairs to an empty drawer.  This is what else was in there:

Lots of miscellaneous stuff that I couldn’t even get to because it was all just thrown in there. There was a bunch of extra baby proofing items, which are now in a basket in the kid’s bathroom closet. There were some lighters, which are now by our fireplace. There were some blank DVDs, which are now in the printer desk in the office. There was also a flash light, some nightlights and pet hair remover wands. After I put everything in its’ proper home, I only had a few items left to store in the den cabinet. Here are the drawers now:

It took me a few minutes to figure out what to do with the very tall and shallow space on the bottom. I put the taller candles back in there and then I thought of the perfect thing to store there. I have a wood tray which I love, but I only really use it when guests come over.

Until now, it has been stored on the floor of our hall closet (where our jackets and vacuum go). However, it was very hard to get to, as you had to take out pretty much everything in the closet. Now it has a new home! And I slipped the edge of the tray behind the lip of the cabinet so it doesn’t slide out when I open the doors. Nice.

4) The ‘Small Project’ I did was to clean out the linen closet outside the guest bathroom. Here is the before:

I took everything out and cleaned the shelves. Then I assessed what I had. Score of the day? I found a twin sheet set I had no idea we had in there. I actually don’t even recognize it, which is weird. Where did it come from???? I also found a throw blanket that we never use, but it’s the softest thing you’ve ever felt. It’s like hugging a cloud. So the sheets and the throw both moved upstairs for my kids to use. Right now, the blanket is hanging up with all of the other kid blankets, which I mention in my kid’s closet post.  When my younger son moves to a toddler bed, this blanket will be the perfect size and softness for him!

There were 5 extra pillows in the linen closet. I wanted to keep them, but they took up so much room in the small closet. But wait, didn’t I have an almost empty top shelf in the guest room closet? Oh yes I did! So all the pillows moved into the guest room, which makes more sense anyways.

After neatly folding everything and taking just a few items out, here is the after:

A world of difference and it took less than 40 minutes. I know this because I had a lasagna in the oven and it had about 45 minutes left to cook when I started. I finished the project with enough time to stare at the timer (mouth watering) until the lasagna was done.

So there you have it, 4 more projects off the list! Loving the list over here!

~Erin

To Do List – Crossing ‘em off!

Today I did 2 more 15 Minute projects from the to do list mentioned here.

First I picked out ‘Clean lower cabinet in Den’. Here is what it looked like before:

I spent the first few minutes taking everything out and then cleaning the actual cabinet. It’s amazing how dusty a cabinet can get even though there’s stuff covering the bottom and the door is shut!

The top shelf was mostly CD holders, so I just put those back where they were and took out anything extra. I actually had a 4th CD case elsewhere that I put here since it would now fit.

The bottom shelf was a mish-mash of items just thrown in there. Most of it was Nintendo Wii accessories. Now we do still have our Wii set up, we just never (I mean never) use it. If we don’t use it at all this winter, it’s going in the sell pile. However, if we even have a chance of using it, it would probably make sense to have all of the stuff in the same place….and where the tv is. As it turns out, we had an almost empty shelf under the TV. Here’s what that looked like before:

Notice the layer of dust which has somehow collected in a cabinet that has not been opened for months. So weird…and now I will be opening that cabinet every week to dust! Soooo, I found an empty storage box in the office and put most of the Wii games and accessories inside.

Then I cleaned off the shelves underneath the TV and put the Wii stuff back in. Here is what that looks like now:

Back to the Den cabinet. After I put all of the stuff where it actually belongs, there was nothing extra to put back in the cabinet. So it looks like this now:

Things to note:

-Again, I found that shopping around my house for storage boxes was quick, effective and free!

-I am not putting anything back in that cabinet until I have something that really needs to go there. There is nothing wrong with having an empty shelf or drawer. It’s so much nicer than having clutter.

-Bonus: I found some photo software that I’ve literally been looking for since about 6 months ago!

So that project really turned into 2, but since the TV shelf was not on my original list, it doesn’t count towards the goal!

So the second 15 Minute project I did today was the cabinet and drawer in the dining room hutch. Here is the before:

You can see that this is where I keep a lot of my miscellaneous holiday and entertaining accessories. I wanted that to stay the main focus of the space, but organize it and get rid of any extra stuff. First I took everything out and sorted. This is what is not going back into the cabinet ever again.

Light fixtures, skewers, a bib and see that white cardboard box? Empty. Yes, I had an empty box with tissue paper in the cabinet. No idea why! So those things all found new homes and the box went into the recycle bin.

Then I put all the holiday and entertaining stuff back in the cabinet. However, everything was sorted and folded and now has a proper place.

I put the bigger holiday accessories on the bottom shelf and the placemats, tablecloths and napkins on the top shelf. I had thought about putting the place mats in the drawer because it would be the perfect size. However, I didn’t for two reasons:

1) I decided to put all of the small holiday items in the drawer because I have two young kids and they can open the cabinet but not the drawer!

2) When I can look at the place mats in the cabinet, I can easily each style all at once. It helps me to remember what I have and presumably I will use them more often. If they were in the drawer, I would only see one style and probably forget the other ones were there.

So all of the small stuff went into the drawer and everything is accessible and organized.

Cross two more projects off the list!

~Erin

 

House To Do List

I have been working on a list of things I want to get done around the house. As I made the list, I realized it was quite extensive! I have decided that I would like to go through and do a basic organization on EVERY part of my house by the end of the year. Now I realize this is super ambitious since it is the holidays and we plan on traveling in December. However, I want to get everything organized so that I can start the year fresh with my New Year’s Resolution. Yes, I already have my resolution ready and waiting. It is to add a little color to my world. Currently my life is filled with bland, blah, neutrals.

I’m serious, my color palate is lacking any variety. My clothes, paint colors, linens, makeup, everything is a tad boring! So in 2013 I’m going to spice it up. But before I do that, I need to clean everything out. Purging is the name of the game.

Anyways, my to do list is long and kind of confrontational. When I look at it, it’s like it’s taunting me. There are so many things I can’t even pick one so I just stare at it, then add to it, then stare at it some more. I decided to make it more manageable by splitting it into categories. They are:

-15 Minute Projects – these are projects that can be done in 15 minutes or less (obviously).

-Small Projects – these are projects that I anticipate will take longer than 15 minutes, but less than about 2 hours.

-Big Projects – This category involves things like construction, painting, shopping for a piece of art or furniture, etc. It includes anything that will take a long time or cost money.

I typed out all of the projects on excel and printed them. I used green for the 15 Minute Projects, orange for the Small Projects, and red for the Big Projects (see I’m getting more colorful already!)

I used abbreviations for most of the rooms of the house and then listed the project. For the master bedroom closet, I split it up into manageable tasks such as ‘go through shirts’ or ‘go through purses/shoes’. That way I could put more tasks on the ’15 Minute’ list.

Then I cut them into strips and put them into labeled envelopes.

There are approx 60 projects altogether and it turns out, there are about 20 projects per envelope. The good news is that 1/3 are 15 Minute projects. My plan is at least once per day, I will randomly pick a project from the ’15 Minute’ envelope. Or I will have my handy helper pick one out….

He picked out ‘clean the master bathroom drawers’ tonight. So that project is off the list!

The bad news is that there are approx 20 items on the big project list. That means a lot of time and possibly a decent investment to complete the list. So I’m going to focus on the 15 Minute and Small Project envelopes first and get the momentum going. I’ll keep you posted on the projects as they get completed.

The ‘Great Listing’ continues!!!

Break out the lists!!!!

It’s list time at my house!!!  To Do Lists, Cleaning Lists, Blog Topic Lists, Christmas Lists!

I am giving myself through the end of this weekend to get all of my lists together for the next 2 months. I’m literally making a list of the lists I need to make. It’s ridiculous.

The first thing I am doing is re-vamping my Cleaning Schedule, which I originally posted about here. I even mentioned in that post how I was planning on adding a few things, so now is the time. Here is what the schedule looks like now:

Now I will reiterate that I did NOT put daily cleaning tasks on here because it took up too much room and I actually am able to remember what I did on the current day (which is surprising considering all that is swirling through my head at any given moment).

I also want to point out that several of the items on the weekly list, we try to do more than once a week, such as dusting. The way I use the chart for these is instead of making a full ‘X’ by that task, I just put half of an ‘X’ and then complete the ‘X’ when I do the task again.

Since my original post on this, I have added several items:

1) Under weekly, I have added ‘Dog Spa’. We don’t bathe our dogs every week but there’s always something that needs to be done, such as teeth brushing, ear cleaning, heartworm meds, etc. So this is more of a general reminder to deal with the crazy dogs each week.

2) Under monthly, I have added wash windows. I just forgot this on my original list.

3) Under monthly, I have added ‘Clean Appliances’. This does not mean wipe down the parts of the appliances I can see, which is included in the weekly cleaning. It means physically pull them away from the walls and clean behind and under them. My husband and I pulled out our fridge today and to be honest, I was horrified. I will not even share pictures. My actual words were “I didn’t know we had a 4th dog.” That is how big the dust bunny (dust dog) was. I’m surprised it didn’t bark at me for disturbing it’s sleep. Anyways, that’s how this made the list.

So that’s the upgraded list. Thoughts, anyone???

As for the actual cleaning I’ve been doing, I’ve decided a winter version of spring cleaning is in the cards. I spent a good chunk of my day crawling around on the floor cleaning baseboards (check it off the list!) I wanted to check out a Pinterest tip I had pinned to my Cleaning Board here. It suggested using a dryer sheet to clean the baseboards. It not only picks up the dirt and dog hair from the boards but coats it with whatever in the world is in a dryer sheet and actually repels future dirt. I’m not sure if it really repels dirt or if that’s just a nice thought, but it was easy to clean with…no sprays, no damp rags, just scooting around on the floor with a dryer sheet.

I’m also using another Pinterest inspired cleaning trick for mattresses. I know vacuuming your mattress is supposed to get rid of dirt, dust mites, etc, but why not make it smell nice too? The tip I saw suggested mixing baking soda with fabric softener and sprinkling it on the mattress before you vacuum. Well, we don’t use fabric softener, but we do use dryer sheets. Sooooo, I took an empty bottle of Puffs. Wait, you don’t know what puffs are? Then you don’t have a 9 month old! They are the baby version of Cheerios and they come in these cool shaped little plastic canisters. I have to admit I’ve been saving up a bunch of these empty containers for ‘the perfect project’ and I found it! Today I took a container, a dryer sheet and some baking soda:

I put a dryer sheet in the container, added a bunch of baking soda and shook it up. Then I poked holes in the lid of the container and made a ‘Fresh Smelling Baking Soda Dispenser Thing’.

And clearly I put a lot of time and effort into the labeling of the bottle:

At least now I won’t be mixing it up with any Puffs!

Anyways, I just sprinkled it on the mattress, let it sit for an hour and then vacuumed. I was pretty pleased with the results. I’m sure you could also use a sachet of lavender or a few drops of essential oil to fragrance the baking soda, but a dryer sheet worked for me. Speaking of baking soda, there are about a million ways to use this household product and about as many blog posts and articles on what those ways are. I plan to write my own someday (along with a post on how amazing plain vinegar is). I love cheap, natural, effective, safe products and baking soda and vinegar are at the top of the list! Anyways, I’m a LITTLE too excited about cleaning my house, but hopefully I can keep the momentum!

~Erin