How Much is too Much Stuff?

How much is too much stuff?  Here is in the United States we tend to have a problem with buying items, lots of items.  Every time I see the Ebates commercial I want to throw up a bit.  Yes, I use Ebates, and I think it’s a good program, after all, if you are buying something you need why not get a small rebate in return.   If you haven’t joined and wanted to, you can use my referral code, and we’ll both get a little something.  My problem with the commercial is that when those people are bragging about how much money they got back all I can think of is how much money they had to spend that get that rebate.

too much stuff

I have been off of work for the last couple of weeks recuperating from surgery, and I have a few more weeks to go.  Since I haven’t had this much time off since Belle was born, I made a list of projects to work on around the house that would keep me busy but not be too much for me.  This week I tackled Mike’s clothes and the front closet.
Not to throw my husband under the bus or anything, but this guy had over 70 t-shirts.  Yes, you read that right.  70 t-shirts which is too much stuff!  That’s not including his non t-shirt shirts and uniforms.  We won’t even go into how many pairs of shoes Belle has.  That basketful above (and those are only her shoes) isn’t all of them, only the ones in the front closet.  She has probably close to a second basketful of shoes in her room.
Needless to say, Mike no longer has that many t-shirts and he willingly even dug deeper into his closet to get rid of stuff that wasn’t on my radar yet.  Belle is bucking me a bit on the shoes.  While I’d love for her to thin down her shoes, my primary goal is to get the front closet organized.  If she wants to keep a ton of shoes in her room, that’s up to her.  She will only be allowed to keep a few of them in the front closet.

How A Morning Bathroom Bucket Saved My Sanity

My morning bathroom bucket has made my life so much easier.  I did a scope of this topic, if you want to see me live and in action check it out!

 

morning bathroom bucket

Bathrooms tend to bring out a lot of stress for mothers.  From the time our children are born it seems like we give up all rights to alone time in the bathroom.  Trust me, it doesn’t stop once you have teenagers.  It just changes.

When we first built our house we bought the smallest house in the best neighborhood we could afford.  With the smallest house came one bathroom.  Given that Michael was three and Belle wasn’t born yet the one bathroom really didn’t seem to be an issue.  And then it was.

By the time we decided to finish the basement and add a second bathroom, I had reached my limit.  I was honestly hanging on by a thread.  There were four of us trying to get ready in one small bathroom and unfortunately, more days than not, the morning ended up with me going bat crap crazy.  Really not the way that I wanted my kids (or me) to start the day.

So, the decision was made to add a second bathroom and I must say that it was the.  Best. Decision. Ever.

However, although we now had two bathrooms, there was still the matter of Belle sharing my bathroom as well as we now had to keep two bathrooms to keep clean.  My solution, my morning bathroom bucket.

I’m telling you, the $1 I spent on that bucket totally changed my life. Sounds a little melodramatic, doesn’t it?  I’m telling you the truth!

My method if pretty simple.  Buy a cheap bucket and pile in everything that I need to get ready in the morning.  That simple.  Keep in mind that I’m a pretty low maintenance girl so if your not you may need to get a little bit bigger bucket 🙂

A Clean Kitchen – The Company Ready House

clean kitchen

A clean kitchen, the Holy Grail of the homemaker.  Back in the day when my Wonder Woman complex was at it’s highest, I felt that my house needed to be spotless all the time.  Looking back, part of it probably came from my need to show that even though I was working outside the home I could still rock the homemaking stuff as well.  Um, yeah – not really doable.

Let’s be honest, keeping a clean house let alone a clean kitchen is difficult whether you work outside the home or not, each option offers its own unique challenges.  Now that I’m (mostly) over my Wonder Woman complex, my strategy is to do my best to keep my house at least clean enough that I’m not horribly embarrassed if someone stops in.  Not that it would pass the white glove test, but it’s reasonably clean.  Of course, what I strive for is not always reality even though I would say I’m successful about 80% of the time.  Full disclosure, I do have a service that comes in every other week to do the heavy cleaning.  If housework is something you struggle with and there is any way at all you can work it in your budget I HIGHLY recommend it!

There are two rooms that I try to have straightened up before I go to bed at night, the kitchen and the living room.  I picked those two rooms for two reasons.  The first being that those two rooms are really the rooms the any unexpected company would see.  The second being that I like Mike to walk into a quiet, clean and peaceful house when he gets home.  I want the house to feel like a sanctuary for him and not a chaotic mess.

The kitchen is a little harder to keep clean, in my opinion, because it seems to be the catch all for everything.  The mail gets dumped on the counter, items for the next day are generally placed on the table, things I need for errands are kept on the bench, etc.  Plus it feels like getting anyone to put their shoes away is impossible!  Oh yeah, there that cooking thing as well!

While my goal is to do this every night, there are some nights that it just doesn’t get done.  Of course, those are probably the nights I haven’t cooked so there may not be much to do.  For the most part I can get this done in 10-15 minutes following this plan.

De-cluttering the Mail Box

Mailbox Decluttering_WWIN

Simplifying my life is really what this blog journey has been all about.  When I started blogging I felt a bit like I was at the end of my rope and wanted some accountability to keep me on my journey.  Over the years the hard work has been paying off.  I finally feel like I have some balance and fun in my life versus the constant stress and overwhelmed feelings I use to have.  Although I still have a way to go on my journey, it’s gratifying to see the results.

One of the areas that has still been a pain point for me is the mail box.  Most of our bills are paid online so we don’t get a lot of “real” mail.  However, it seems like our mailbox is always overflowing with credit card offers, catalogs and fliers.

When I decided to tackle the mailbox I started with doing some online research.  I found a website from the Federal Trade Commission with information on how to stop unwanted solicitation.  They provide information for mail solicitations as well as phone solicitations.

How I Manage My To-Do List

To-Do List - WWIN
I like lists.  I’m not necessarily one of those “must have a list or I’ll go insane” type of people but I definitely like my lists.
One of my favorite lists but one which has given me a lot of grief over the years is my errand list.  The list of tasks that I need to get done on a daily/weekly basis, the “pick up the clothes at the dry cleaner” or “make dentist appointment” lists.
Making the list has never been my problem; actually using the list is where I’ll fall down.  I’ll jot notes to myself all over the house, finding them after I’d already forgot to do what I was supposed to.  I’ve tried the electronic list.  The pretty notebook just for basic to-do’s.  The notepad taped to the dashboard of my car.  You name it, I’ve tried it.

What Can You Do With Two Minutes?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

If you haven’t do so already, please check out my 2014 Survey.  You can access it by clicking here.  I appreciate the feedback!

When I was younger, my fear of roller coasters was not quite as great as it is today.  Don’t get me wrong, I hated them with a passion even back then, however to impress my boyfriend (my now husband so it must have worked!) I would somehow swallow my fear enough to crawl on one.

My trick to getting through the roller coaster ride was to know how long each ride took from start to finish.  I remember standing underneath The Demon at Great American in Gurnee IL and counting each ride from the time it left the gate to the time it returned.  If memory serves me a ride on The Demon was 38 seconds but don’t hold me to that!

Seasonal Closet

Finding an organization system that works for you sometimes takes a lot of trial and error.  When we had our family room finished a number of years ago, the builder created  storage closets built around our utilities.  One of the largest closets was built around our water pipes.  It’s an awesome closet but has those awkward pipes right in the middle.  For years I used it as junk storage.  I’d pile stuff up and cry when I needed to pull items out.

A few years ago I shared with you a different system that I started using involving shelves.  While my closet was definitely more organized (and a good start for my  new system) I was unable to maintain the nice look in the after pictures and I found that it wasn’t as serviceable as I wanted it to be.

Creating a usable space that allowed me easy access to my various seasonal items was necessary if I wanted to keep decorating the front porch and house for the different seasons.  Decorating by itself takes up a lot of time and energy, I certainly didn’t have anything left to empty a closet and reorganize every season!

After the holidays last year (yes – this post has been almost a year in the making!) I decided to devise a system that would be meet my needs, be sustainable and not cost any money.  After utilizing the closet for a year it appears I met those goals!

Here are the basics:

  • I started by gathering every seasonal item I owned into one place and sorted it by season
  • Next I purged anything I knew wouldn’t get used by me or the kids.  Yes, it was painful but needed to be done.
  • Then I repurposed bags and boxes that I saved but never used.  Some of my favorite stores have awesome, well made bags that I hate to throw out but never quite know what to do with.  I put them to work by holding my wrapping bags, tissue paper, outdoor pillows, basically anything that would fit in them.  I labeled each bag so I could see at a glance what each one held.  Note:  by labeled I mean I tore up a piece of paper, wrote on them with a marker and taped them to the bag.
  • Starting with the far right (it’s the most difficult area to get to) I created my Christmas corner.  I used an existing shelving unit and organized my Christmas stuff by decorating location.  The piano decorations are all in one box.  The kids each have their own ornament boxes (very useful now that Michael is putting up his own tree in his apartment this year), wrapping paper, etc.  By doing it this way I’m able to decorate in  pieces (I did the front porch and piano this week) without completely emptying the closet as in past year.

Christmas Shelf_WWIN

 

  • On the main wall I added nails to the floor joists and hung up my Christmas wreaths and lighted garland.
  • Utilizing the floor space I keep my fall decorations in totes.

Holiday Closet - Front View_WWIN

 

  • To the left I’ve used nails to hang the bags containing the miscellaneous stuff, my summer items and any leftover wreaths that need to be hung up.

Holiday Closet - Bag Wall_WWIN

 

To keep it sustainable NOTHING else is allowed in this closet.  While this has been somewhat difficult to do as we’ve organized other areas of the house, it has allowed us to maintain this closet solely as a seasonal closet and has made decorating the house a lot easier!

How do you handle seasonal decorations at your house?

 

Weekend Project List Results

 

photo (32)

I shared Saturday that I was hoping to get a bunch of stuff done this weekend.  I thought I’d share the details of one of my projects and give you the total low down

Quite a while ago I shared my bathroom organization solution to keeping my cabinet under the sink semi-organized.  Unfortunately it had gotten a little out of control lately.

photo (34)

 

So I went through and did A LOT of purging.  This is just a sample, there was quite a bit more.

photo (35)

I also found a neat solution to my cotton ball and Q-Tip spillage dilemma.  These jars go right into one of my baskets.

photo (36)

Ahh – much easier to find items now!

photo (32)

Here is my entire list and what I achieved.  I didn’t get done quite as much as I would have liked since I was feeling a little lazy on Sunday, I guess we all need days like that occasionally.

  1. Prep for Danielle’s trip to Germany we’re not completely done but we’ve made some real strides in getting ready
  2. Outline and tarp my new flower bed (I’ll leave the tarp down for a couple of weeks to kill the grass making it easier to dig up and plant)
  3. Clean out the pantry
  4. Clean out the corner kitchen cabinet
  5. Clean out freezer in kitchen & garage
  6. Clean out the coat closet
  7. Purge the getting ready in the morning buckets in the girls bathroom
  8. Purge and re-organize drawers in girls bathroom
  9. Plant back fountain
  10. Make cupcakes for Memorial Day My willpower is a little low today so I made a WW appetizer instead of cupcakes.  They’re actually quite yummy, I’ll share the recipe with you later this week.
  11. Re-organize basement closet
  12. Write posts for upcoming week.
  13. Relax and enjoy myself (maybe if I put it on the list it will happen!) Probably a little to much of this!

Did you get any organizing done this weekend?

Cleaning on my Vacation Day

This weekend the Chicks over at Chick Chat This and That were suppose to get away.  Unfortunately those plans fell apart a week or two ago due to our busy schedules.  I, however, decided to keep my scheduled vacation day because I really need a mental health day.

My plans were to do some baking and blogging in the morning and then run some errands while the cleaning ladies came over.  Those plans were shot when at 7am I received an email that said they wouldn’t be coming today because of a stomach virus.  The real unfortunate part about this is we have friends coming over tomorrow and Mike has a work colleague coming over on Tuesday.  No way did I want company over with furniture that hadn’t been dusted or toilets cleaned in two weeks.  Yep, that means I have to do it myself on my day off.  There go my plans.

On the bright side I’m saving a few bucks (they wanted to come next week and I told them to not worry about it).  Plus, to make lemonade out of lemons, I decided to participate in Crystal’s at Money Saving Mom’s 30 Cleaning Challenge.

One of my favorite things about reading blogs is to see all the different ways that things can be done.  Let’s face it, we’re all different people and what works for one of us doesn’t work for all of us.  Generally, the 30 day cleaning challenge doesn’t work for me.  I don’t clean every day (besides my daily pick-ups which you can read about here, here and here) plus my cleaning ladies come every other week to do the heavy stuff (toilets, floors, tubs, etc).  Since I needed to do my own cleaning this week I decided to share some of my tricks and time myself, because I work better when it’s a competition!

My first room to tackle was the living room.  Here is my before picture.  I had created a little nest for myself on the couch plus I still had yesterday’s mail on the end-table.  The first thing I did was turn on the 70’s music channel on cable since we all know that dusting the living room is better when we’re jamming to Hey Deanie.  Oh yeah – you 40+ ladies know exactly what I mean!

Living Room - B4 Cleaning

 

 

When I do have to clean, I have a go-t0 cleaning bucket that I keep in the bottom of my linen closet.  I try to always keep it stocked with items I need.  I typically have;  gloves, toilet cleaner, spray cleaners, wipes, rags, Clorox, etc.  Having all supplies together in an easy to carry bucket makes cleaning much easier.

 

Cleaning Bucket

I like to do my cleaning in a certain order.  I always dust first (top to bottom) and vacuum last, by doing so I’m getting rid of as much dirt and dust as I can.

  • Pick up and put away misc items
  • Dust (including lamps & pictures)  – typically I ask the cleaning ladies to lemon oil the furniture.  Today I just did a dry dusting with a rag.
  • Blinds (this is a dry dust with a rag as well)
  • Front window and glass front door
  • Sanitize door handles and remotes with Clorox wipes
  • Vacuum – today I moved the furniture since it’s been a while.  Good thing since I stumbled across an extension cord from Christmas behind the chair!

Living Room - After Cleaning

That’s it!  I also took the time to light some candles as I wanted a little ambiance while I’m doing my work.  The total time spent cleaning the living room was 16 minutes.

I’ll share my bathroom cleaning tips on Monday.  Have a good weekend!

I”ll be linking this post up over at Money Saving Mom.

 

Getting Organized – Winter Clothing

Winter Coat Prep

Nothing in life is sweeter than being organized and ahead of the game.  You know what I mean.  When the first snow fall happens you know exactly where to go to find boots, gloves, snow pants.  Not only do you know where to find them but you actually have two of the same gloves and the snow pants fit the kids!

You do realize that doesn’t happen by accident, right?  That happens because you’ve actually thought ahead and planned for the impending change of season.  Of course, if you live in the Midwest you may be feeling like those snow boots will never be put away!

In the spirit of getting ready for spring I’m starting to get prepared to put away our winter clothing.  Because, unlike other years, I want to be organized and to have that awesome feeling next fall of being able to find two matching gloves and have enough buttons on my coat to actually button it!

While I can’t get crazy yet and actually put away the clothing, I can start looking at our things and either dispose of items no longer needed or repair items in disrepair.  One of the items that has been in need of repair for quite awhile is my winter jacket.

Sometime throughout this past winter season a number of my buttons have fallen off.  You know, those little round things that keep our coat closed so that we actually stay warm.  Fortunately my coat has a belt so I’ve been able to manage without the buttons but I promised myself that before I put this coat away for the winter I would prepare it for next year.

DSC02928

Here is what I did to prepare my coat for the next winter season.

  • Empty the pockets of their built up change, lint and other general mish mash
  • Replace the buttons.  This involved collecting the buttons that were scattered around the house (I know – it would have been better to actually have a spot to put them versus playing hide and seek) as well as pulling one from an unobtrusive spot since there was one I couldn’t find.
  • Replace the grommet missing on the belt
  • Brush the coat to remove lint, dog hair & dust

Now when spring actually does get here I’ll be ready to move the coat downstairs and next fall it will be ready to go.  This will also allow time to shop clearance sales if new coats, gloves or snow pants are warranted.

If you really want to give yourself a treat slip a $20 into your coat pocket before putting it away for the season! We all know how sweet it is to find that forgotten money in our pockets.

How do you get your winter clothes ready for next year?