Category Archives: organization

Quick Tip: Simple Socks

So this post is a no-brainer but it sure does make me happy. And because I am so happy… I thought I would share my happiness. Socks. They disappear, they lose their best friends. It’s a tough life for a sock. With quickly growing babies, socks don’t last as long as my grey and blue nautical pair from high school. Yep, still in my drawer. Still cozy in boots. (Not still in style.)

I ordered my 2 and half year old some sneakers and sport socks. His big feet are getting bigger and, well, so are the socks and shoes. (I could stop right here and weep over the fact that my first baby is definitely a little boy now, but there isn’ t much of nap time left.) As I was putting the new large socks away, I pulled the ones he’s outgrown. And as I thought about this simple solution I started a few years back, it felt like a Project Momma Quick Tip.

socks1Kid socks look similar and it’s definitely hard to tell their size just looking at them. In fact I accidentally put baby socks on my toddler a few days back. (Proof right here.) There is no way I will remember what size socks are when I pull them out of storage. So, when I buy new socks, I simply keep the packaging or labels and shove it in the drawer under the socks. Then when it is time to pull them to store away – until the next baby has grown too big too fast – I already the packaging with them. I fell upon this idea accidentally because I kept the sock tags from Isaac’s baby socks; they were the only ones I’d found that would actually stay on those active baby feet. I save the label because did not want to forget that brand (Okie Dokie from JCPenney if your are wondering).

socks2So, now that it’s time to rotate the old socks, I grab that label, the socks and a ziplock bag to store them. 
And there you have it. Easily understood socks. I keep the outgrown socks and shoes in a separate bin from clothes. One reason is that I pass around clothes with my friends but socks and shoes I hang on to. Another reason to keep them separate? They may not be true to size. Hey Oshkosh, size 2-4 did not last pass 2 and a half for my big boy. Just sayin’. Every kid grows differently so I don’t want to have to search through my 2s, 3s, and 4s clothes, to find my 2-4 socks that fit Isaac when he was 1 and 2. Yeah, read that sentence again if you have to.  socks 4I have also started keeping some other tags and packaging for items like swaddles, sleep sacs, underwear, etc. It really takes no extra time upfront but saves a little confusion on the other end. Why not give myself little organized treasures? I deserve them.

Anyone else have a quick tip when it comes to your kids’ clothing?
quick tip  socks logo

My Recovery Spot

I like to always be prepared. At least as much as I can. So at 37 weeks with my first pregnancy I tried to prep for my upcoming C-section. I bought extra large pads and mens boxers – ya know, to help the healing. But that was the extent of what I knew to do. The surgery itself was not a bad as I thought and all my docs said I was healing well. At the hospital I had help and direction and of course the amazing lift bed that almost stands you up on its own. Coming home was the harder part for me. Driving in the car was very painful; I felt every bump! Isaac had jaundice so we had 1-2 dr. appointments a day for the first 5 days home. This was exhausting and again, painful with all the extra movement in and out of the car, up and down through the buildings, and nursing in the car. But it was the laying down and sitting up in bed that opened my incision (and some minor malpractice by that no longer licensed OB – thats a whole other story). Yep another trip to the doc to close it up. All this combined with the first time mom learning curve, challenge of nursing, and sleep depravation made for a pretty hard first week.

So the 2nd time around I was more prepared – mentally and tangibly – for what life might be like that first week. You better believe I had a heart to heart with my doctor. I was determined for him to do the surgery. Since the first time around I ended up sleeping in Doug’s lay-z-boy, I planned for that from start.  I made a little Recovery Spot:

recovery spot 3

Every family has their own plan after baby. For us, this meant mom nursing and getting up with baby at night. Dad needs sleep because of his job. No need to be on top of high buildings, using dangerous tools, and putting the lives of others at stake without a good night’s sleep. Since I was up nursing anyway this made sense to us. First time around I learned it was hard to stand from the chair with baby or even reach down to pick him up from a chair or swing. So we fashioned a sleep space next to the chair that I could reach while in the chair. (Note that I wouldn’t leave Luke there during the day while big brother was awake. This was his nighttime-everyone-else-is-asleep-mom-is-right-next-to-me-spot.) We moved in the sturdy piece of furniture that usually sits in our master bedroom under the window.

recovery spot 5 The space was to help me function without a lot of unnecessary movement. So I have the Moses basket to set Luke down to sleep and while I stand up through the night. I kept some diapers, wipes, and a burp cloth. The monitor was there to keep an eye on both boys whenever they were their beds. Also my phone charger and a lamp. I moved this lamp here specifically because it has a 3-way bulb. Dim for those night feedings. recovery spot 1 On the other side of the chair I have the baby log, boppy and cover for nursing, remotes, and a basket of filled with supplies. I kept a pillow on the chair for extra support and at night I would bring out a big comforter to make the chair feel more like a bed. recovery spot 2 I all the small items a basket so during the day I could move it high out of Isaac’s reach. But through the night it was so convenient to have medicines, lotions, hand sanitizer, books, notebook (for all my listing), and my ipad all within reach. I usually had a large water bottle here too, it’s just not in the picture. recovery spot 4As I sat in this chair WAY to much, it was super helpful to know that I had everything that I needed. The less times I had to get up and down the better for my healing. So this little Recovery Spot was a big help!

Almost Ready for Baby – 38 weeks

So, as I write this we are 5 days away from meeting our little one! And, since he has stayed put inside, I have accomplished everything to date on the list from a few weeks back… baby prepI actually ended up adding a few things along the way too. So here are a couple of the highlights…

We decided to set the Dining Room up as a dual purpose room. My thoughts are baby will sleep in there nights until he sleeps through the night, 11-12 hours. For Isaac that was around 10 weeks old. A 2nd crib was purchased (actually it was a gift!), bed made, blackout shade installed, and some baby items brought in.

more baby prep 6 more baby prep 7

The buffet that I wanted to add doors to for ‘safe’ storage is in process; it still needs paint and handles. Doug may finish this weekend, but at least is usable to store some baby things.

Isaac has a big boy bed and has been experimenting with sleeping on it. I would say he’s 70% big boy bed, 30% crib depending on how tired he is. I am fine with letting him get comfortable. He stays in and calls me in the morning to come get him. So far so good!

more baby prep 2

Baby clothes (0-6 months) have been washed, sorted, and put away in the boys’ closet and dresser (some in the dining room cabinets too).

more baby prep 1

Our cars are prepped with car seats; grandparents also have a car seat for Isaac. This is big! I won’t feel the pressure of driving both kids all the time and we will not have to move car seats to do it. HOO-RAY! Grandparents are scheduled to help fill in for the first couple of weeks. We are blessed! Don’t know how we would do this without them!

more baby prep 10Hospital bag is packed. Baby’s gift to Isaac is wrapped. I even have some Valentine’s Day gifts for Doug and Isaac ready.

Baby log is made. Isaac notes for helpers are prepped. (Both probably deserve their own post)

more baby prep 8We even have diapers! Friends, volunteers, and family have been stocking us. Our small group even planned a MealBaby for us. Awesome.
more baby prep 9

I also did a big stock up of our pantry. Hopefully this will help in the first few weeks when I cannot drive. Doug can go grab milk, bread, and fruit, etc. I think we have enough cereal to last through summer, thank you coupons and sales.

more baby prep 5

All the paperwork has been done. And, I even had my LAST dr. appt. That really made it feel final since I have been spending hours there each week.
more baby prep 4

While looking for batteries and a key chain I got frustrated one day off and even got organized our junk drawer. Which turned into all the kitchen drawers, then all the cabinets. Not really on the agenda, but hey?!
more baby prep 3Our last thing to do is name this baby. We are down to a short list. Doug has a firm favorite and Isaac is calling him that, too. I like the name but like a few others better, so we are waiting until the moment to make it final.

Overall I am feeling pretty good about the tangible prep. I wish I could prep Isaac like I can the house and baby stuff. I am hoping he isn’t too jolted. I also hope my healing is quick and easy so I can be a functioning mom of two! I cannot wait to hold a sleeping baby again.

The Basement Project – Phase 2

The basement is still under way!
end phase 1 with banner

Here is a reminder of what I did Phase 1: Create the Plan

  • Wrote down everything in the room to know what I was working with.
  • Divide all the items into groups (on paper). 
  • Map out the room to plan for where the items would end up.
  • Divided the project into bite-size chunks that I could do in a few hours, then in a few days
  • Made room to work by pushing table against wall and some empty boxes gone.

Phase 2: Sort, Purge, and Store
This was the tedious part. After I broke down the project into chunks, it was time to get chewing. ….Sort, purge, and store…. ON REPEAT! 2 hours here, there, and again. Slowly making progress. But, accomplishing what was on paper, kept me motivated.

basement phase 2It is hard to read the picture because it is written in pencil, so I have it listed below. It actually changed a lot throughout the process… But here is what my final work looked like on each of the days.

Five days (2 hours shifts):
1 – Gift wrap, bags, boxes. Craft supplies. Move Printer. Clear long wood table.
2 – Boys clothes & label. Bag clothes to give away. Kid Supplies. Summer Misc.
3 – Organize pantry. Storage needs for pantry. Purge glassware. Purge gifts.
4 – Home decor: candles, glass. Christmas presents. Baby feeding Misc. Maternity clothes.
5 – Project pile. Trash out. To give and Goodwill items packed into car. Christmas/seasonal.

Two vacation days (3-4 hours of work each day):
6 – List storage needs. List: projects. List: Items to go through in the future  (Phase 4). Drop off items giving to people and Goodwill the rest.
7 – Clear desk. Furniture and big items moved. Memories sorted.

As I went a long I labeled items (hello yellow post-it notes) and bins with sticky notes to prepare for Phase 3!  My favorite!  Here is what the basement looked like after Phase 2 or 18-20 hours of combined work. Get ready…

basement phase 2 - 2 basement phase 2 - 1 basement phase 2 - 5 basement phase 2 - 4basement ph3 7 This wall holds items that are on their way out. On the table and under are either on the “project” list, need to be gone through, or are items I would like to sell. The bins on the far left are old college books and childhood memories; they just need some more time (Phase 4 = after the baby!) Also I have a few empty containers stacked up on the far right. basement phase 2 - 3

Woo hoo! We can see the floor. We can walk through the room!  Everything that is staying has a home! Big accomplishment from the start. Next up labels and labels. Let the fun begin.

Baby To Do List

It’s January! 5 weeks or less until we meet our next son. Now that Christmas and my crazy holiday work schedule is over, it is time to starting prepping for this baby! By the way, baby #2 planning is way different from baby #1. Right, moms? Especially since I am having another son, I really only NEED diapers. A few other things are helpful, but the preparation is far easier. baby prepI have been making a Baby Prep list for the last week in my “Reminders” App for the iphone/ipad. My list is in the cloud! I sat down tonight and pulled out my Pregnancy Binder from a few years back to finalize and tweak the list. I love a good list!
baby prep 2So here is what is left on the agenda, by week:

Week 33
- Get extra crib for baby and twin bed for Isaac
- Paperwork: hospital, maternity leave, pediatrician
- Print hospital packing list
- Print baby log sheets / schedules

Week 34
- Order breast pump
- Pick up 2nd car seat for Isaac
- Install base for infant seat, adjust straps
- Calendar of help needs (1st two weeks)

Week 35
- Set up sleep space: basics, monitor, noise machine, black out shade
- Stock ottoman with nursing supplies
- Wash baby clothes
- Pick a name!

Week 36
- Isaac info. on paper: schedule, food ideas, play ideas & locations
- Pack hospital bag
- Family/friends call/email/text list

Week 37
- Big grocery run – pantry stock up
- Re-read “Twelve Hours Sleep By Twelve Weeks Old”

Week 38
- Change sheets & wash towels
- Clean house

Nothing on the list feels super pressing except the crib/bed and car seat. Oh, and I have no diapers yet. But all that would be manageable by a family member if this baby were to come now. I am now into the weekly doctor appointment phase… that is the final stretch!

The Basement Project – Phase 1

I’m about to get pretty vulnerable right now. I’m about to show you that my life is not all organization, structure and butterflies. Under our the somewhat maintained and functional first floor is an unfinished basement that has shown what happens when I child enters the family. Do I blame Isaac? Of course. I would never let this chaos happen. OK that is not the truth. Everything in this room was brought in by me; it is totally my fault. I suppose that many families have “that spot”. The safe zone from kids, the “I cannot make a decision about that stuff” location or the “I will craft with that or repurpose that someday when I have more time”. So my hoarded junk room is a mixture of all that plus memories, baby cloths, seasonal decor, luggage, etc. No one goes in our basement but us, but that does not mean this scene is OK with me. It has needed attention for a very long time.

Back in May when I found out I was pregnant, I knew that this room was one that had to change before this little one was added to our lives. I craved simplification in our home, overall. I felt the urge to purge. But, as summer turned to fall… it still wasn’t under control. The responsibility hit me. I MUST do this before the holidays, before the baby!

So here is what it looked like back in late August. 
1 basement 1 Bad, right? Seriously this was such a hazard that Isaac was not allowed in. I had to squeeze and shimmy to get to anything in here, not that I even knew where anything actually was. See that pile in the middle, just behind the navy blue bin that sits on the non-visable floor? Yeah it is actually a long table with Christmas decor from LAST year still piled on it. How? Why? No! It was overwhelming and scary and sad (at least to me). I saw hours of work and and was itching to tackle it.

One thing holding me back (which I think is a pretty good excuse) is that I am working mom. When I am not at work I love to spend my time with my family. I have plenty of routine home stuff to do, but I can do it with Isaac alongside of me. I rarely can set aside a day or three to leave him to tackle a large project like this would be. I had tried to bite some off in chunks over the last 6 months but I never made much progress to keep myself motivated and going. I knew I needed a plan.

I started out writing down what I knew was in the basement. Though the stuff was not sorted, I tried to sort it out into groups in my mind. I squeezed around the items and tried to make sure that I captured every item in one of these groups:
1 basement 4I brought the list upstairs (away from the chaos) and sat with it for a bit. I knew this project would take days. Days I did not have. I had to be creative. How long did I think it would take? 3 days? 20 hours? I pulled out my calendar and started looking at life over the next month. I had planned to take two vacation days and since I still had to pay for childcare, I decided that would help. If I could get a start even before those days, I might be super-motivated to use really utilize those days to get it done!

Phase 1: Create The Plan! 
Leading up to my days off, I decided I would try to spend 2 hours in the basement for some evenings after Isaac went to bed. On the weekend I would go down during nap time. This is not ideal as I am usually super-tired and ready for MY rest, but it would give me such a head start. So below you can see my plan for TH, FRI, SAT, MON, and TUES before my first vacation day on WEDS:

1 basement 6Each section has the item groups I had listed. I just divided them up with what made sense into different days. It would be a way to feel like I had small wins in this massive project.

I even mapped out what I thought the basement could like like (in sections) when I was done. I did this all in pencil as I knew that it was too HUGE a project to be exactly how I had originally planned it. I would for sure need to be flexible. (Remember there was no telling what was hidden in the hoard). It was a great start. I was happy with my plan on paper.

1 basement 5

At the top of my list was to move that table in the middle of the room against the right wall. It would be my work station as I sorted and purge and packed. Here is how it looked once I got my table moved. I see floor!
1 basement 3“Phase 1: Create The Plan” was complete. Even though it was only the beginning… I was ready to get this done. SOoooo motivated!

Potty Pack

The few weeks ago we began potty training Isaac. I plan to write a post on all that, but until then here’s a short post about how we went from Diaper Pack to Potty Pack. One of my all time favorite baby/kid items is this Skip Hop Pronto Diaper Changing Kit. This is actually my 2nd. When a zipper broke, Buy Buy Baby replaced it for free with a brand new one. They rock like that. potty pack 3 This is what it has looked like the last year or so. While I usually keep a change of clothes and extra diaper in the car, this is easy to throw in my purse (which is actually a bag), instead of carrying a whole diaper bag. When Isaac was little baby I also left the changing mat attached. He outgrew the length, so now I mostly leave it off… thank you easy zipper.potty packNow that we are into potty land, we said goodbye to diapers! I put a few pairs of pants and underwear in the pack along with a plastic bag for the possible messy cloths. I also grabbed a travel size of the moist wipes to have in case of a poop while we are out. 
potty pack 2
It is super handy to grab in and out of my purse when Isaac is with me or give to Doug if he takes him out. And since Skip Hop patterns are kinda hip, you’d have no idea what is hiding inside.

See ya next year diapers!

4 Steps to Early Bird Tax Prep

Yep. You read that right. Time to start my 2013 Taxes.
taxes6Every year, I do it. I put off doing my taxes until a few weeks before tax day. And, every year I ask myself why I waited so long. See in my mind it seems like it’s going to be this really long and hard process, so I move it from this week’s list to next week’s, etc. The truth is our taxes are not that complicated and we always get money back. So why do I put it off!? And… how do I motivate myself to just get in there and do them?

Well, like most things in my life, I think that a simple system will do the trick.

After I finished our taxes this year, I decided to write myself a little prep list for next year. Some basic instructions may just make me jump on those taxes rather than think about it for months. So with just 4 easy steps, I am making next year’s tax filing E-Z… and I don’t even use that form.

taxes final
I created a “Taxes” box with super easy access to gather items as they come in. You might recognize this from the Dining Room Closet. The box has a lid so nothing gets lost. It’s at eye level where I will see it often to be reminded, unlike a pile or file folder.

I save the copy of last years return on my computer as well as a printed copy. I like to file all our paperwork from that year in a large mailing envelope (you can see that in the picture above). I write the year on the outside. I laid this envelope at the bottom of the box so I don’t have to go looking for that next year. 2011 envelopes and prior are filed for safe keeping. I also write my login info. and all the details I need for online filing on the envelope for quick reference.  Sorry I can’t share that with you all. You understand.


Rather than throw important receipts straight in the box, I created a few envelopes ahead of time to hold the receipts I am expecting. I can keep a tally on the outside throughout the year, or total them up at the end of the year.  You can see that some of the envelopes are already in use. These items include: tools and uniforms for work, conference receipts, goodwill donations, etc. I put all my other receipts into monthly envelopes in case I need them. I will trash all unused receipts at the end of the year. (I have been doing this system for a long time and it works for me).
I quickly wrote a checklist of items I needed before starting my taxes. I always seem to be missing one or two things, this list should solve that delay. So, these are the documents and paperwork I need to gather next January. The list is nothing fancy and it’s not even typed up, it is just a quick list meant to be save time next year. (Dang, I noticed that I missed Charitable Giving from the list after I snapped this picture.)

With only 10-15 minutes of work, I have myself all prepped and systemized for next tax season. All the above items are safely tucked in the box. While no two completed tax forms look alike, I am certain that you can craft a simple plan for yourself too. I challenge you to take a few minutes to plan ahead, save your stuff in one place and make a checklist. It is amazing what a little prep can bring peace, even a year out!

Labels for My Labels!

After posting this picture on instagram and twitter, a freind of mine mentioned…”you have labels for your labels!” Ha ha!! I didn’t even notice. But, yes as I organized the closet acting as my office, I reserved a whole drawer for labels.labels1

The washi love continues to beat in my heart. To celebrate my victory of the Done, Done Done Dining Room Closet,  I thought it was the perfect time to get my label on.  Super easy… but here are the pics to prove it.

I simply taped right on top of the inserts that came with the containers. Lucky for me the tape was exactly the same size, so no double taping and cutting had to happen. I used a few tape colors to give contrast to the different colors and patterns of the containers.

They I used a label maker to print out the text. Are you addicted to the label maker like I am? It is a good kind of addiction. Don’t worry.
labels5So here are a few that are finished…

Some of my old boxes had lost their label inserts so I had to create new ones. Instead of using mailing labels (1 X 2 5/8) with just the sticky back, I simply cut them out backing and all. That made them more sturdy.  You could use card stock too, I just had lotsa these labels.

labels3I used three colors of washi tape for the labels in the closet. I liked the way the blue popped off of the orange and white items. The orange looked great on the grey and white. And, the grey washi was good to tone down the already bright red boxes.
labels2closet collage labelsIt isn’t rocket science, people. It took 20 minutes and made a huge difference! Label your stuff and then be super proud of yourself. Do it! Then post pics on the Project Momma Facebook Page for all of us to see! 

7 Things To Do After Conference

I just returned from the International Nanny Association Annual Conference. My 5th!  Though I am currently not nannying, I am still very involved in the industry and with our local CincyNanny community. I get so much out of this conference both personal and professional. I come home energized, excited, but a little afraid. I desperately want to make sure that the seeds planted at conference will grow. That the ideas that challenged me would be set to action. That I would live passionately and never settle for so-so.

I usually debrief my trip on the plane ride home. I’ll journal and make a “to do” list. I was able to drive to this conference and now find my mind still swimming with the information, ideas, and memories. So as I process, I thought that I would share it …via the blogosphere.

todo logo
1. Un-pack with next time in mind
Yes, we all unpack and do laundry when we get home. But, it is important to notice items that you brought home and remind yourself of items you wish that you had taken – business cards, more cash or better walking shoes. If you had a packing list, update it! Make a note or create a generic packing list for next time.

2. Count your costs
Grap a letter-sized envelope and place all your conference receipts inside. Include items you paid for ahead of time, like travel expenses. Depending on your career, items may be deductible. Tally up your expenses on the outside of your envelope by category and you won’t have to think about it come tax time.
3. Connect online 
Lay out the business cards you collected and/or the contact list of attendees (if available). Take some time to find these new friends with social media whether it be linked in, facebook, twitter, etc. Send a message to the ones that you had a nice connection with and would like to stay in touch. You may even want to share pictures or write a hand-written note.

4. Continuing ED
Conferences are a great place to find new experts and professionals in your industry. Note who  inspired you and find them! If you liked their information at conference, make sure you’ll receive more after conference. Follow their blog, order a book, register for their newsletter, follow them on social media. Set yourself up to be inspired by them again…even virtually.

5. Make the most of your notes
Take time to re-read your notes before you hide them away. Read them with a colored pen or highlighter. Notice some ideas that really challenged you, spoke to you, intrigued you and even things you disagreed with. Pull out those nuggets and keep them infront of your face for a few weeks. Write them on post-it notes or note cards where you can revisit the ideas. Keep those sparks from burning out. (Quote from Dr. G)

6. Keepers 
After you have sorted through all the papers, notes, biz cards, etc. package them in a way you can reference them. For this conference I just attended, I like to file all my items in my ‘Nanny & Kids Resources’ Binder. Nothing fancy, just a 3 ring binder where I drop notes. I do make sure to have dates, location, and speaker/author on all my notes. By the way I don’t keep everything. Don’t hang on to things you know that you won’t use.
7. Take Action!
A few days away from normal life can really inspire you. Don’t let the opportunity for life change just pass you by. Schedule a block of time to debrief – alone, just you. Get out of your house for a few hours, take your conference notes, and write out at least 3 action steps for yourself. This might include how to come back to the same conference or to just get away more often. Whatever the next steps write them down. Then…. follow through and do them!

My debrief time is going to be Friday afternoon. What about you?

What do you do upon returning from a conference?

The “Done Done Done” Dining Room Closet

It’s been a LONG process, but I think that I can finally call my Dining Room closet done! Ahhh, that sounds so good.. “Done Done Done!” It was a long process that requires a long post. I’ll say sorry in advance. Go grab a cup of coffee and settle in for the read….if you dare.

RECAP: Remember back when I was talking about my “Drop Zone” Problem at the kitchen table? Things were piling up – papers, coupons, work stuff, bills, Isaac’s things. Anything that came in the door with me landed on the table and I found myself cleaning and clearing the table multiple times a week. The real reason that items would get stuck on this table is because my closet in the dining room was OUT. OF. CONTROL.  So I did a little exercise to see what actually was piling up, so that I could create a specific place for those items. Remember this picture?


To solve the Drop Zone Problem, I first had to create some landing spots for these items. Most would end up in the closet – whether final or “in process”.

I use this closet as an office, basically. Projects, files, office supplies and a few other daily use items live in here for easy access. But, with a toddler walking and climbing around the house, it became my hiding spot. I’d been hiding so many things that the door would barely close.

It took me awhile to even decide to do this project. I knew it was going to take some time. Pre-baby, I could have tackled this in a day or two, but with Isaac running around it was impossible to conquer quickly. So, I slowly bit off chunks until it was done. Let’s take a journey starting back in January and ending in April. Woah.

closet1I spent time purging papers, clearing files, sorting memories items, and pulling items to donate to goodwill and trash. Isaac had a ball playing with my trash pile. It kept him occupied, exploring while I worked and chatted with him.
closet collage 1bI went through all then 3 fabric bins that were filed to the brim. On the shelves were still several piles sorted with like items ready for the next time I could get back to this project. I also found some cash in a card – 30 buckeroos! Ya-YAH! At the end of day one I was able to close the closet door with ease. It was good

By the way, this was the day that Isaac lost his tooth, just a few minutes after these shots were taken when we went to play in the bedroom. The trash pile on the floor stayed there as we ran to the pediatrician.


Now that I had some sorted piles, and could see the closet a little better and I put together a plan… on paper. I knew that I needed to chunk it out to continue to move along with the project. I taped this lists to the closet door.
closet19I spent some time shuffling my files. Took some to the basement to file the archives (shown below), and I aso created new files like these for 2013. I do finally have a process to our paperwork, that is a whole other blog post, but only using four yearly categories and other general long-term categories makes sorting at the end of each month a breeze.
At the end of Day 2 the closet didn’t look much different, except for a large pile disappearing into these folders. I was not moved to capture a pic.


I love the container store. Looove it.  Let’s just take a moment and appreciate the glory of this place……Ahhh!

coset11I went this day with a few items I needed for the closet. I was in search of two large boxes with lids, but had easy access. They were for (1) Tax items collected and (2) Memory items – both that are through the calendar year. I had measured the closet, so I knew that instead of two, three would be a better fit. I wasn’t sure what would end up in the third box, but it ended up being perfect to stash my different sized envelopes. I have lotsa those too. I picked up the orange desk file on impulse because it was on sale. And, back at the ranch… here is how it turned out. Perf.

boxes collage

Next, I spent some time going through the four office supply (grey & white) drawers; stuff had been accumulating. I had far more supplies than I needed, so I kept the basics, donated some to my office and trashed the rest. How many pens does a girl need? Apparently, 400. Isaac was ecstatic to get the benefit of the pink calculator shown… he thought it was a phone.
closet9I was able to pare down quite a bit. I used sticky address labels to temporarily label the storage containers and binders. I knew that I wanted to live with the arrangement for a bit until I committed to the labels. I am wise like that. I used the new orange desk file to hold blank printer paper, envelopes, and large lined notecards (one of my favorite things). I wanted a “quick grab” option.

To the right of the grey and white drawers is a labeled “work” pile for all the items I’d gathered to donate to my office. This gave me the brilliant idea to save a space in this closet for my work stuff. I constantly have items going back and forth and this spot would save my counters from being cluttered (–> Goal of this entire project!) I put my work bag and misc. items here in the closet! Yes. I was totally excited about this epiphany and started that system immediately. It is great to keep work stuff hidden while at home.
closet end of day3


I emptied the orange door-hanging organizer. Most of the items in here were tax related: monthly receipts by envelope, goodwill donation records, and a big envelope that I was putting tax documents in as they arrived in the mail. I added those to the new grey “taxes” box. I started a new container for my digital camera items and external hard drive items that had also lived in this hanging organizer’s pockets.

closet18Yep, I did it. I created a layout for this the space. A mood board for closets, if you will. I used the old sharpie and paper for this visionary work. The lovely drawings are the first ideas of the different containers. I decided to add some project boxes (clear bins on the shelf under the 3 grey bins). I was working on the Valentine Banner during this time which gave me another epiphany “I am always working on some random project… why not create a home for those smaller sized projects”. I know, I know… genius.
closet15Then I shuffled some things around to get closer to this…
closet16I also started an “In Process” box (shown in orange). This will be where I put incoming bills, items I need to read, magazines waiting for the weekend. Basically anything that needs further attention. I do go through and open out mail each day, read, sort, trash, etc. So if an item makes it to the “In Process” box it is a keeper. Once a week I sit down with this box and empty it, usually on Wednesday nights when I pay bills. This system has really been working for me. The box is small and upright, so it cannot last more than a week… and shouldn’t.

At this point the closet was about 85% done. The glassware was awaiting it’s home. I had a plan for that: building doors for the dining room credenza. Except, I don’t know how to build doors. So this is now a husband project and unfortunately he has two others already crowding his workbench.  So I waited. Through the waiting, I realized that the closet was functioning really well for me. I loved have drop spots for my work stuff and mail/bills. I also loved that my random projects weren’t hanging in the garage or on the kitchen table. The door was closing and the closet was overall less cluttered.

Waiting. Waiting.

Then, all the sudden it is April and the spring weather is starting to flirt with me. I want to shop! I received some money and gifts cards for my birthday to shop for clothing with. Yay! Isaac’s shopping sale 1 and sale 2 were motivating me to really look at my wardrobe and shop smart. I knew the first step would be going through my clothes closet. WAIT A MINUTE… I cannot start another closet when I haven’t finished this one! So I told myself “No! Self, you have to finish the dining room closet before you rip into another one.” I was really motivated now! That meant changing my plans. The glass had to go somewhere. No more waiting for credenza doors.

I packed up all the glass on the shelves and carried them to the basement. Temporarily (I hope).
closet20With the glass gone I had a whole open shelf. I finally moved all the items to their homes and started labeling! The fun part.

closet21A few additions:
(1) Cleaning caddy. I brought this up from the basement so that I can do a few quick cleaning on Tuesdays and Fridays. Having quick access to the cleaning supplies = more likely that I will clean. I love organizing. I do not love cleaning.
(2) Coupons. They used to live in the kitchen in a basket. They were pretty hidden, but I am trying to reduce items in the kitchen, and this seemed to be a good place to drop coupons as I sort bils and etc.
(3) Isaac’s Activity boxes. I have created a few boxes that have what I call “table time” activities. They sit next to the long grey boxes.
closet 27I will likely replace or update the clear plastic bins, so all the items inside aren’t as visible. But we are functioning well, so I will let that slide for a bit.
closet29At the bottom of the closet, I have empty space on top of the file cart for my work bag. I also have floor space to hide my mini-vacuum. I am often using this in the dining room to clean up after toddler meals, so it is nice to have a spot to tuck it away.

Lets take a closer look at the pretty labels:
closet collage labelsSo the closet it done! I am not saying I won’t tweak it as I go. Remember this is like my office. It  will flex with life. I’ll be back with more details on my washi labels. They need more attention, for sure.

I feel like I accomplished my goal for this space… 
(1) Simple – check
(2) Functional – check
(3) Affordable – check 

(4) Systematic – check, check
(5) Pretty – check

final closet org

Have you had a project take you months to complete? What got you through project paralysis? I think I need to study that symptom some more! More importantly… Did you actually make it to the end of the post?!

Quick Tip: Outfits On Deck

I am all for making mornings easier. Coffee, yes. Not having to think about kid clothes, another yes. So here is a little ‘Quick Tip’ for ya. outfits on deck bannerBasically I take about 5 minutes every couple of weeks to match up Isaac’s shirts with pants to create an outfit. I usually do this after folding laundry while I am hanging up his clothes. Why do I hang his clothes up?  1) Easy to find them. 2) Isaac’s room has a large closet and not much drawer space. 3) He cannot reach them. Yes, it takes a few seconds to hang each one, but so does folding. To me it’s worth it.
outfits collageI don’t pull outfits to wear in a certain order, I grab something appropriate for the weather, occasion, or comfort.
outfits6Often, I will choose his outfit out the night before and hang on a hook next to the changing table. This allows me to bring Isaac from crib to changing table to change and dress him. At 18 months he will try to get down himself if I leave him for a second to get stuff from his closet. I’m not messing with that first thing in the morning if I don’t have to.

Simple things like this that make me happy.

P.S. This is a double time-saver if you have multiples. I nannied for triplet boys and did their laundry. We’d keep 3 sets of clothing bundled together in their closet. We could have them matching or coordinating with ease!