Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Posted by Krista at 9:08 PM Comments

Saturday was offically the first day of spring! I don't know about where you live but here, we couldn't have asked for a better spring day - it was sunny and 20C - don't be jealous it didn't last long, back to 8C today, but it was glorious while it lasted.  Last week my kids were off school on March Break - were your kids?  I had such grandiose plans of getting this and that accomplished...yeah, we ended up playing all week and finally on Friday I did a good Weekly House Blessing and called it good enough.  The kids are only going to be little once right? and believe me the housework isn't going anywhere. ;)

I know I have already made my cleaning plan to get things in order before summer break, and after the gorgeous weather last week I realized I really need to buckle down and make the most of my time. Use my time wisely.  Sometimes I'm not very good about that - I really like my play time.  But like I tell the kids, get your homework done right away and you'll have lots of time for play.  I need to take my own advice right? So looking at my schedule I'm a little off plan but I have until April 10 to play catch up.  That is definitely do-able if I use my time wisely.

Tomorrow I have a 2 year birthday party to throw for my little guy, so it'll be just the usual cleaning up and decorating.  But starting on Wednesday I will get busy spring cleaning and getting things organized.  Oh! I forgot to tell you that today I received part of my prize package from the 28 Day Organizing Challenge.  My box of Mabel's Labels arrived!

Check out the loot!  I can hardly wait to start organizing again and labeling!  This arrived at a perfect time, don't you think? I'll take pictures as I use some of the labels and show you how lovely they look - I know I'm going to love them. I'm still waiting for my BLIS to arrive, hopefully that will be here this week too. Can't wait to try that & let you know how it works. :)

So, that's whats been on my mind lately.  Are you airing out your home and freshening things up for spring? Do you have a schedule?  Happy Spring!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Natural Trash Can Deodorizer

Posted by Krista at 10:30 AM 6 comments

How many times have you taken out the trash thinking "oh man the trash stinks!", then you come back and you can still smell that smell?? I've found a great way to clean out the trash cans using natural products. This is important to me for two big reasons. 1st - I don't have worry about having or using chemicals around the kids and 2nd - I don't have to worry about what those chemicals are doing to harm the environment.

What you will need:
  • Hot water
  • White vinegar
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Long handled brush (an extra toilet brush works great for this)
  • Baking Soda
What you will do:
  • Fill the trash can about half way with hot water (I fill it in the bathtub)
  • Add 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 8-10 drops of  Tea Tree Oil
  • Mix that around and use the brush to scrub down the sides of the can
  • Leave it to soak for 20-30 minutes (longer if you get sidetracked)
  • Empty and I like to set it outdoors to dry, then sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom before putting in a new trash bag.
That's it! It works for me. :) I hope you'll try it and let me know how it works for you!


I Won! I Won!

Posted by Krista at 10:05 AM 5 comments
I know it's a couple days late in coming and many of you have already congratulated me but for those not in the know - I won!

I was the third place winner in the 28 day Organizing Challenge! I was beyond thrilled when I read Laura's announcing blog post. Most people aim to win first place when they take on a project like this, I have to tell you though when this challenge was posted with the prizes, I really wanted to win third place. Yes, that's right I wanted to come in last lol! But the third place prizes are just what I wanted!  Want to know what I won?

I won a $100 prize package from Mabel’s Labels and One Year Subscription to Blis (Best Life Information System).  Both fabulous prizes and I can't wait til they arrive and I can start using them!  Go check them out if you have never heard of them - really awesome!

Go check out the very deserving winners of first and second place too! They both did such amazing jobs - seriously aaaahhh-mazing! Congrats to both of you!!

Thank you Laura and Tanna, I am thrilled! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

28 Day Organizing Challenge the Finale

Posted by Krista at 10:03 AM 23 comments

Well, here we the last day of the challenge hosted by Laura at Organizing Junkie and I'm so very nervous and excited to show you the transformation of my bedroom. When I first decided to take on the bedroom for the organizing challenge I really wondered if I would be able to stick to it and get it finished.  I'm happy to say once I got started it was pretty easy to keep plugging away at it little by little to get it done.  I am, however, glad that we had 28 days to complete our rooms.

Are you ready to see what the room looked like 28 days ago and what it looks like now?  Let's get to it then!

View from the door before

View from the door after

View towards closet before

View towards closet after

View from bed before

View from bed after

Closet before

Closet after

Well, what do you think? I am so pleased with how clean and organized everything is. I actually love tidying my bedroom in the mornings now and I can't wait to go in there and relax at the end of the day because it truly is a relaxing space now.

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it? I think the hardest part for me was just getting started. Also when I emptied out the closet the huge mountain of stuff that I had to go through and determine if I wanted to keep it or if I could get rid of it - that was a daunting task for sure. Once the closet was complete (that was my first step in organizing the room) I was able to see I could do this and I would be able have the room of my dreams.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order? I decluttered a lot from the room. That was the biggest change for sure. We had way too much stuff for the room.  I love my bedroom now and I'm no longer using it as a dumping ground for other items around the house.  I also have stopped buying things without a purpose. And I've started a dream journal for decorating the space.  I think that having an idea of where we want to take the room next will help me keep my bedroom clean and organized.

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space? A lot of the stuff that I purged has been donated, sold or trashed. I had a full black garbage bag of shredding to do too! Who keeps that much stuff around that should be shredded?!? It was amazing seeing the amount of "stuff" we just kept holding on to and it was never used or even thought about. It was very liberating letting go of things we didn't use or love.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries? We installed a new closet organization system ($40.00) to help better utilize the space we had in there. We decided to put the baby's clothes in bins in the closet ($2.00 each) so that we could take the dresser out of the room and create more space and leave less space to "hide" things. We decluttered our dressers so that we can easily open and close the drawers.  That should help with getting our clothes put away and if we buy something we now know exactly what we have so we can decide if we really need it or not.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

I think the before and after pictures speak for themselves.  The transformation of the bedroom is really amazing.  I am so proud of the work and the results.  I feel excited to start tackling other areas of our home so that all of our rooms can make me feel just as happy as our bedroom does. The rest of the house doesn't even come close to the state this room was in, but now having the experience of really being ruthless when it came to decluttering I feel like I can take that to other areas.  We really do have a lot of stuff that we really don't use and I know I have many things I don't love but just keep.  Thank you Laura for hosting this challenge and teaching me that it's really okay to let go of things. Things don't make us who we are.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fate & a New Hallway Rug

Posted by Krista at 12:22 PM 2 comments
Remember last week how I was saying I would love to get a new rug for the hallway?  Well, when we went to our big box store to get supplies for the bedroom closet organizer, my darling husband said "oh look there is a clearance section over there". You have to know it didn't take me long to steer the cart in that direction and I swear it was fate!  Look what I found!

This gorgeous rug! You'll never believe what I paid for it. 11 dollars!!  This was the only rug on that table that was marked so low. Every other one was marked much much more than that even on clearance. The colors are perfect for what I am envisioning for the hallway and the odds that the rug would be that price - fate I tell you, fate! :)  This rug was meant for me. :)  We're going to go this weekend and price up the cost to build the console table and that may get built this weekend.  Very exciting things happening here.

Organizing in the Bedroom Continued...

Posted by Krista at 9:27 AM Comments
It's been a long week but at the same time a very quick week. Ever have weeks like that? I've been sick this week, not sure if it's just a run of the mill cold or the flu.  It hit me hard and fast which makes me lean towards the flu. Somehow I lost a day too.  I thought for sure today was Wednesday, but surprise it's Thursday! So that makes me feel like the week has flown by.  I haven't really done much work in the bedroom this week. I'm not quitting though. :)  I did take a little time Monday or Tuesday (can't remember now) and cleaned out the cedar chest in our bedroom.  Originally we bought it to store extra blankets and such, and maybe one day I can actually us it for that.

So here it is before crammed with a bunch of junk. Okay, it's not all junk.  There was a lot of the kids school papers and such in there, along with a set of dishes I haven't used in oh maybe 5 years. All of that stuff came out.  Papers will be sorted through and put into a Banker's box for each child.  That will be stored in their closets once I get to decluttering their bedrooms later in my "plan".  The dishes are going to consignment shop and I think just about everything else was donated or put into it's proper place.

Here it is after.  I decided for now to store all of our books in here. We're going to be building bedside stands (hopefully this spring or early summer) that will have plenty of room for both of us to have our books displayed, so I decluttered some but kept the ones we really love. Also kept extra wooden hangers, I didn't want to get rid of them because eventually we'll be moving to a bigger house and I will need them for guest's coats in the coat closet.  I also put little E's stuff in here that will be displayed on shelves once he get's his own bedroom.

This project didn't take more than 20-30 minutes I think.  It's amazing how we let things go and then it doesn't take very long to get it tidy and organized.  Too bad weight loss wasn't the same haha.

How are your organizing projects going? I haven't done too much this week, but I am planning on spending some time today working on decluttering and organizing dressers and the armoire. Should be do-able even though I am sick. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Organizing in the Kitchen - Menu Planning Step Two

Posted by Krista at 9:28 PM Comments

This week we'll talk about my second step in menu planning. After I made my huge list of meals my family enjoys I started transferring the recipes (from cookbooks, printed recipes, ect) to recipe cards. Some of the recipes I did right away and some of them are still waiting.  When I make something from the list I now try to get the recipe card done that day or I will sometimes make up the cards when I do my menu planning.  The second way works best because then I have the recipe handy when I go to actually make the meal.

The reason you want to do the recipe cards is so that after you have planned your menu from your list (+ one or two new recipes to try) you can then get the recipes out that you will be using that week. You can put them in your home management binder or just put them right in the front of your recipe box.  Also this makes figuring out what you need to buy easy. You can look at each recipe and check to see what you need and immediately put it on your list. No more forgotten items or only having half the ingredients on hand when you go to cook your meals!

You can use plain index cards if you want, buy some cute recipe cards, you can even find them for free online.  The ones I use I found at MessyVegetarianCook. Some of the cards can be saved to your computer and edited in a photo editing program, others are pdf files that you can edit and print from. You can also just google free printable recipe cards and lots will show up.

Hope you're having fun getting all your recipes organized and ready to use!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

28 Day Organizing Challenge - Week One, The Closet

Posted by Krista at 8:20 PM 3 comments
This weekend was devoted to getting the closet emptied and putting in a new organizer. When talking with Dh about how to go about getting the room organized we decided the best place to start would be the closet since so much needed to go in there (coats from the craft closet makeover, clothes, ect.).  So with his help I am now the proud owner of an organized closet.  You are not going to believe the difference in pictures.  I am so excited. It does make it easier to continue having the pictures to compare...I can do this!

Remember this picture? Where I couldn't even get to the closet...

All of that stuff is out of the room & the closet is revealed...oh yes it's bad.

And 24 hours later:
Can you believe the difference? I can hardly. The closet doors still need to go back up but they need some touch up paint first.  But holy wow! I am just amazed.  I really didn't think I was going to be able to do it when I had all the stuff out of there.  The mountain of stuff was huge!

Remember last week's picture when you walk in the room?

Here is the view today:

And the view from the bed last week:

The view from the bed today:

Still lots of work to do in there but it's coming along very nicely if I do say so myself. :)  Actually looking forward to going in the to go to bed tonight. That's a nice feeling.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spotlight on Flylady

Posted by Krista at 9:20 PM 2 comments
Today I didn't really do a specific organization project, I mostly worked on getting the house cleaned up (minus my room - yikes!) for the weekend.  We are planning on spending the weekend working on the bedroom of doom. Getting started with the closet is our first project.  Since I don't have a project to share with you today I thought I would feature a website that has been helpful for me - If you follow me on twitter you see me using #flylady in quite a few of my tweets. If you've wondered what that was all about now is your chance to find out.
Guess I should tell you a little bit about me first.  When I first started with Flylady I was not your typical living in c.h.a.o.s.(can't have anyone over syndrome) person. I am more of the Born Organized type. Generally speaking my house is ready for company , of course I'm human and have areas where clutter lives - hidden clutter, my bedroom (door closed), closets, drawers. The problem was, I was obsessed with cleaning. I couldn't just sit with my family and enjoy watching a movie, I couldn't just leave the house and go for breakfast without stressing out.  This is where Flylady came to help me.  She helped me find a way to get the things done I needed to and be able to relax and enjoy life outside of constant cleaning.  That housework even done imperfectly is okay. She gave me permission to relax.

Key Flylady principles for me are:

  • You can do anything for 15 minutes - Flylady is big on using a timer. She suggests if you’re having trouble starting a project, just set a timer for 15 minutes and work on it until the timer goes off. You might keep going, you might not. But at the very least, you’ve made progress. (This flew out the window when I had little E, for the first 13-14 months some days I couldn't do anything for 5 minutes.  I'll talk more about this later)
  • Routines, Routines, Routines - These will get you through.  When I am sick I can do nothing more than my basic routines and the house will stay in decent shape.

Some things that may turn people off Flylady:

  • The shoes - She's big on putting your sneakers on first thing. I don't do shoes in the house ever, so i just ignore this little reminder.
  • Some find her ideas to have religious overtones or come across as anti-feminist. I never really thought about it or paid much attention.  I take what works for me & leave the rest. I don't have to agree with everything that's on the website to use it. Just like in real life we don't have to agree 100%, all of the time to be friends. :)
  • The endless emails - This used to be a huge issue for some. I think since she switched to Big Tent it's set up a lot better. You can read all the emails right online.

I have made up my Home Management Binder (what she calls a control journal) and parts of it still work for me.  At some point I need to revamp it, but that'll come eventually.  I have the files for my binder done in MS Word so if anyone would like them let me know & I'll put together a post for them.

So if you think Flylady can help you get your home out of chaos or even just help you learn to let go - check out her site.  There is tons of good information on there to hep you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Entryway and Hallway Clean-Up

Posted by Krista at 6:08 PM Comments
Room Two on the Schedule - Entryway and Hallway

Since I didn't have to babysit again today, I thought I would go ahead and get the entry and hall clean.  I know according to my schedule I have almost two more weeks to complete these areas, but starting this weekend I am hoping to put a lot of time working on the bedroom project (yes, I really want to win one of those fantastic prizes!).  I figured that today was a good day to get it done.  Little E was in a very good mood, and not too demanding.  All signs pointed to go clean. :)

Here are the before pictures:
It doesn't look too bad but there are things I notice that others may not - dust! 

Entryway Cleaning List:                                                       
- dust mop & damp mop walls                                                
- clean blinds & window
- dust shelf & contents
- vacuum rug
- scrub floor & stairs
{need to get paint & touch-up wall, baseboards & rail}

Hallway Cleaning List:
- dust mop & damp mop walls and doors
- clean light fixture
- dust shelf
- windex picture & mirror (vinegar & water solution)
- vacuum rug
- scrub floor

Here they are all clean & shiny:

I added some cute little Valentines decorations to the mirrored shelf:

I would love to get a new runner for the hall & a new mat for the entryway.  The craft closet door needs a new knob.  The wall in between the two doors on the right hand side is blank and I have no idea what to put there.
The wall on the left side currently holds this picture from our wedding day 

That is going to be replaced with a collage similar to this:

I am planning on making this console table to place under the collage
Image from Better Homes and Garden

Do you have any ideas of what would look great on that right wall? Or any other decorating ideas for these two spaces are more than welcome. :)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Living Room Clean-Up

Posted by Krista at 3:45 PM Comments
Room One on the Schedule - Living Room

Since we are now officially in February I decided that I needed to finish up the chores in the living room so that I could cross that room off my list.  Since Miss. Bean was home from school and could help entertain Little E, I figured today was as good a day as any.  I really want to be able to spend the weekends when daddy is home working on the bedroom for the next few weeks.  I also don't want to fall behind on my schedule for cleaning either - so far so good!

Before I show you my cleaning list for this room, I thought I would show you the before pictures I took the morning before starting.

Living Room Cleaning List
- remove any trash from room
- clean up and declutter toys
- dust mop & damp mop walls
- dust all furniture
- windex all glass (I use vinegar & water solution)
- vacuum all furniture & under cushions
- move all furniture and vacuum
- clean window & window sill
- put up Valentine's Day decorations

This is the play area after cleaning:

This is the living room area after cleaning:

It was so nice after all this was finished to sit in this room and just enjoy how it looked.  I find it so much more relaxing when everything is in it's proper place.  There are some things I want to do to redecorate now that the room is all clean. These will be gradual things - I would love to have new furniture (couch and chairs), I want to go with something neutral so I can accent more for the seasons. I want to paint the mirror on the back wall - unsure what colour yet though. The big project that we are going to do is build a new entertainment center - like this one:
Image from Pottery Barn

The plans for it can be found on Ana's site - Knock off Wood. I'm not sure if I want to paint it black or a dark brown.  Remember I want to go neutral but I know for sure I do not want white or a variation of it in the living room.  I want something warm.  I think I'm leaning towards black though.  What do you think? What other decorating ideas do you see for this room?  I'm up for hearing your ideas too!

Monday, February 1, 2010

28 Day Organizing Challenge in My Bedroom

Posted by Krista at 9:54 AM 13 comments

I've known about this challenge for a couple of weeks now and I've tossed around the idea of joining. Two things were holding me back. First of all once you see the room you'll see it's going to be a huge commitment. Can I follow through? Or will I start and then freeze on it? Secondly I would have to take before pictures and share my embarrassing mess with all of you.  Admit I've got a dungeon - who likes to do that??  Well, I'm taking the plunge.  I'm joining the challenge and I hope by the end of the month I'll have a beautiful retreat to show you.

Before I get started on the great organizing mission I'm going to share the before shots *deep breath*

This is what you are greeted with when you walk in the bedroom. Not exactly the most welcoming retreat to walk into. 

And here we have the view from the bed. Best just to close your eyes and go right to sleep to avoid starring at the mess for too long.

And the view towards the closet. Lovely isn't it? I would have taken pictures of inside the closet but *ahem* I couldn't exactly get to the closet. Trust me, it isn't any better than the rest of the room though.

There you have it, in all it's glory - the mess from hell.  Now, in a little fairness some of this mess wasn't created until the great craft closet makeover. Everything from that closet was dumped into  my room and the leftover bins were also dumped in there. So it wasn't quite this bad a couple weeks ago - well, the closet was but not so much the rest of the room.

Just in case you've already forgotten - here it is again for you ;)

I hope to take pictures as I tackle this challenge and share some progress pictures with you. Now, don't flame me for my mess okay? Just hold my hand and tell me I can do this. Been there, done it? Have some tips for me? Have some ideas? Please share!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Organizing in the Kitchen - Menu Planning Step One

Posted by Krista at 8:38 PM Comments

I missed posting yesterday but I didn't actually do anything other than the basics to get through the day.  I had to babysit and with looking after two little ones, plus the big kids home for a snow day; keeping my sanity was the only goal. Today I took another easy day mostly. Did a little work in the living room, tidied the rest of the house and this evening I worked on my menu for next week.  Since menu planning is part of being organized I thought I would talk about it with you tonight.

Do you menu plan? Have you stood in front of your cabinets or freezer an hour before you should be serving supper wondering what in the world you could make tonight?  Do you often end up just ordering out because you can't figure out what to make? Menu planning can help! Spending a few minutes once a week can save you time, stress and money!

When I first started menu planning I just started with planning suppers, gradually I started adding in lunches and breakfasts.  This is particularly helpful when the kids are home on school holidays. Now I generally keep the same breakfast and lunch menu until the kids start saying they are sick of something, then I will change it up a little.  I plan only one week's worth of menus at a time.  If you get paid every two weeks it may be more helpful for you to plan two weeks at a time.  I've tried planning a months worth or more of menus before and I never stuck to the menu at all.

Recently I sat down and tried to figure out a faster system for menu planning and this is what I came up with.  Tonight we'll only talk about the first step. That way you can do the homework and come back next week for step two. The first thing I did was sit down with all the recipes I had printed, cookbooks I use, clippings I had saved and wrote down a huge list of things I like to make. This list does not include things I haven't made before or want to try; it's just things I know my family likes.  I have a list for spring/summer and fall/winter.  Doing it this way I know I'll have things on my menu the family enjoys and I can add a new recipe in whenever I want. You can see the list of meals I made here. I think I've added on to the list (via my cooking blog) since I made this list in my notebook, but I just used the notebook list to make this file for you.

This week you can try coming up with a list of meals your family enjoys. Next week we'll tackle the second step.

Are you finding this helpful? Do you have a different, maybe better way that you plan menus? If you do I'd be interested in hearing it, always looking for a new more efficient way to do things. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kitchen Cabinet Organizing - Part 1

Posted by Krista at 10:20 PM 1 comments
This evening I decided to tackle a couple of my kitchen cabinets. The worst of the bunch, the ones that annoy me when I open them and things are falling out or are so disorganized I can't find what I am looking for. I'm sure you know what I am talking about, right? I don't know about your family but mine can have the cabinets a bit messy again by next week. So, I'm going to try and make an extra effort to put things back in place when I see someone has just shoved in a rush. Maybe then my efforts will last a bit longer.

Are you wondering what state the cabinets were before I cleaned them out & organized them? Well, let's take a look...

And about 40 minutes later (I did this while making and serving supper to the kids so may have taken a bit longer that it should have), we have a couple of nicely organized kitchen cabinets!

There were quite a few boxes that only had crumbs left, so I left enough space to replace them when I go shopping. I'm pleased with the results mostly. Thinking about getting a couple baskets for tea & coffee boxes and maybe for snack items. Other than that I think it looks a lot better now. I can open the doors and smile instead of grumble, that is a good thing! 


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's in the Pantry??

Posted by Krista at 8:25 PM 2 comments
Every day this week when making lunches I open the pantry door to get the lunch bags out and I cringe at what I see.  Okay, so this is been going on a bit longer than a week, more like a month or so but who's counting. ;) Today I finally had enough.  This would be the day I would win the battle of the messy pantry. Wanna know the best part - It only took me 15 minutes to empty, clean and re-organize the entire pantry. Yes, that's right all of the shelves took only 15 minutes!

This is the scary before picture. Lucky nothing fell out when I opened the doors.

15 minutes later...

Isn't that beautiful?  I just want to sit and stare at it.

The top shelf has my spices and all my cake decorating/candy making supplies in the basket. The second shelf has some of my baking supplies. The third shelf just holds some misc. things I didn't have room for in the cupboards. On the very bottom shelf is my bread machine and food storage bags/wraps.

I was able to donate all of the baby food (we never really used it, just had it on hand "in case") and the baby crackers. The best before dates on all of it were a long way off, so I felt good blessing some family that may need it for their little one.

Did you organize anything today? There are so many things you can do in 15 minutes or less. I know it's hard to not want to do anything unless you can do the whole room, but a little here and a little there and before you know it the whole room will be done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

5 Minutes to an Organized End Table

Posted by Krista at 10:30 PM Comments
Tonight I realized I hadn't done any organization project so I needed to find something I could do quickly. What could I do quickly and quietly (the kids were all in bed)? Ah-ha! the end table in the living room. This is where all the weekly flyers get shoved, and then the next week's get shoved on top of that, and...are you seeing a pattern here? This is also where we keep the phone book (yes, we still use that *shock*) and it's often a trick to try and find the phone book in there, let alone get it out. This project took me I would say at the most 5 minutes. Seriously, how silly is it that we put off clearing things out when they take so little time?

Yes, thats a hamster wheel in there. No, we haven't had a hamster in almost 2 years...

And 5 minutes later we have...

a nice and organized end table.

What can you organize in 5 minutes? Go ahead, find something and organize it, I'll wait for you! :)


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