Sunday, December 9, 2012

When In Doubt, Organize

Oh, my pantry, how I love thee. Even in your most disorganized state, you are still huge and wonderful.

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In times of high stress, I tend to seek out small organizational projects that I can tackle during naptime on a weekend day.  Sense of accomplishment and control gained over a short period of time = I feel less like I'm losing my grip on reality.  It makes for a good life mantra, actually.  When in doubt, organize something.

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The pantry was working okay like this, but it was really uninspiring.  I'd open up the doors and feel exhausted just looking at the stuff scattered everywhere.  It needed a plan.

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I got my inspiration from an organizing blog called A Bowl Full of Lemons.  I even liked her pantry idea so much that I searched and searched until I found nearly the same wire baskets as she used.  (They were at Crate & Barrel for $8 each.)

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I used some Martha Stewart labels from Staples because they are pretty.

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And I found some fun red and green bins from the Dollar Store, which is an incredibly awesome place to look for storage bins.  Cheapo!  My first incarnation of the organizational project had two red bins holding Tupperware, and the other two holding cleaning supplies.  I soon realized I had too many cleaning supplies for just two bins, so you will see below that I repurposed all four of them for cleaning/household supplies.

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And I bought myself some pretty storage bins from Macy's -- again, the Martha Stewart Collection. I think these were like $7 or $8 each?

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So here is the finished product.  Note, this took me since maybe early September to finish.  I only finished it up because all of our pantry goods were stuffed into the wire bins without signage, and it drove Steven crazy not being able to find anything.

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I am hoping these categories will work for us in the future.  They seemed to work based upon the groceries we had on hand.  I hope this is what we normally have....I think it is, but you never really know.

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So, we have gone from cluttered pantry to pretty labeled bins everywhere!  Mama is a happy camper - the pantry makes me smile each time I open the doors!  I also removed all the stuff that was between the bottom shelf and the floor -- it feels so much less messy with nothing on the floor except brooms and the trash can.

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I ended up having to hang two signs on some of the bins, because I had to put many varied things in them (and also was too lazy to re-do the signs when I made that realization).  I think it looks fine though.  It also speaks volumes about our life right now that we have a whole sign that reads "Hamburger Helper/Mac & Cheese."  Welcome to life with two full-time working parents, a toddler and a 10 month old, I guess, right?  I'm surprised we don't have two bins solely dedicated to hamburger helper.  (Oh, and see my Lazy Susan for the spices? Also an idea from an organizing blog.)

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My dollar store red bins.  I like them!  The cereal boxes are the bane of my existence, but I fear they cannot be organized any better than that.  They come and go too quickly, so I am just going to bear with them.  I think they look fine all lined up, so whatever.

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And last but not least, I have made Sophie and Scarlett their own snack basket, down at kid-reaching-level, filled with apple sauce packets, goldfish crackers, and Capri Sun flavored waters.  This could be a grievous error in judgment, as Sophie helped herself to not one but TWO Capri Suns today after naptime.  I'll give it a week and see how it goes...

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Any ideas on what I should tackle next?  The rest of the house is in need of this same type of organizational makeover.  And let's not even get started on my office at work....

Language Explosion

(An unposted blog from October 2012!)
The day Sophie turned two (or so it seemed), her language skills exploded, and what previously felt like a guessing game ("You want this... sock? Spoon? Steak? Samurai? Soba noodle? Oh, you want some of Mommy's coffee? No....."), has suddenly become a full-on conversation with a tiny little person.

"Mommy, I need candies."

"No, you don't need any candy, Sophie."

"Mommy, I need fewt sacks."

"No, you don't need any fruit snacks, Sophie."

"Mommy! Carr-yett touchin' fire! Dont touch, Carr-yett! Its hot!"

"That's right, Sophie, we don't touch the fireplace! Dont touch, Scarlett!"

"Carr-yett get out first.  Sophie stand up, bafftub make-a noises!" (Sophie's job is to pull the bathtub drain at the end of their bath.  We ask her every night who should get out of the bath first, and every night, she graciously volunteers her sister to go first, so Sophie can have a few more seconds to play in the tub by herself.)

This morning she woke up crying and had apparently had a nightmare.  She called out for Daddy.  I went in and got her (because Daddy had already been in the three times prior), and she said "I need Daddy! I afwaid! Colin do it!"

Colin is a very sweet little kid in her class, who wouldn't harm a fly.  According to Sophie, Colin showed up in her dreams and "push you!" which means Dream Colin apparently pushed her.  Poor girl.

Life Planner and Kitchen Command Center!


Our kitchen has this lovely little spot for a desk.  Sadly, it was a source of stress for me for nearly a year before I did something about it.  It began as a dumping ground for every bag, paper, and tchotchke that came in from the car each evening after work/school.
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First order of business in any organizing project is to clear everything out and analyze what you have.  I left a couple of things - cloth napkins, a collection of Everyday Food magazines, some pink paper plates/napkins from Soph's birthday, and my camera/cords/flash.

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I then brainstormed for probably 3-4 weeks about what I wanted.  I knew I wanted a big wall calendar to display the family's schedule a month at a time.  Someone pointed me in the direction of Erin Condren and I was hooked.  I ordered her Life Planner and her wall calendar, both personalized!  I then waited with bated breath for the postman to arrive.

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You know its something good when you take a photo of the wrapping.

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Here's a close up of the personalization on the calendar -- it is 11 x 17, so its nice and big to see from a distance.  I really could write larger on it, but I was trying to be neat.  (For client confidentiality purposes, I had to blur out a couple of work things.)

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I also bought a mail holder from the Martha Stewart Collection at Staples.

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I relocated a little desk lamp from the family room - it fit perfectly.  I bought a magnetic white board from Target to hold the calendar and any other notes.  I bought a pack of multicolor Flair felt tip pens, but Sophie wanted them so badly that I had to hide them in the cabinet.

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Here's my Life Planner!  I decided not to put a picture on the front because I'm always in court and I sort of felt skeevy about all the random people at the courthouse seeing photos of my kids every time I needed to write something down.  Behind the Life Planner is the deskpad that comes with the big monthly calendar!

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The Life Planner comes with stickers! So fun!

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Of course, Soph has already claimed the spot as her own.  We got a chair from Home Goods to complete the little desk nook.  I love it.

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The shelves above the desk were outfitted with bins from Target and labeled with those Martha Stewart labels from Staples.  Lest you think I did this in one shopping trip, let me explain that this took me at least a month to put together.  Time for Mommy-Projects moves so much more slowly when one has small children....

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I organized the baskets based upon what I had originally stuffed into those spaces -- I did this in September and these bins are still working great in December, so the categories seemed to cover what we needed them to include.

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And three months in, my Life Planner is getting some serious use. (Again with the confidentiality stuff. You understand how it goes.)  I love that the day is split into morning/day/night.  I try to use the morning part for exercise/stuff about daycare/important things to remember for the day.  "Day" is for all my work appointments/court appearances.  And "Night" is typically reserved for meal planning.  It is a work in progress.

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Most of all, I just enjoy having a brightly colored calendar in the black and white, Times New Roman drabness that is a law firm.  It also happens to make a lovely cupcake coaster. :)  You know, for that 3 PM pick me up.

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So that's my kitchen command center and my new Life Planner!  Next up, my pantry organization project!