A New Chapter

Hi friends.

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This is not an easy post to write. I have been contemplating writing this for a while but have finally decided it is time. Time for me to hang up my blogging hat….for now anyway. The funny thing about blogging is that you only see what someone puts out there for you to read. You don’t always see the inner struggles that go on behind the scenes…unless they share that. Let me share a bit of mine.
I have been struggling for a while to find a balance with it all. I have always loved organizing and decorating. This will never change. But what started as a passion has become more of an obligation. Not because of what anyone has done to me but rather what I have done to myself. The truth is that the internet NEVER sleeps and there is always more to be done. It is constant. A constant reminder that someone has beat you to the punch. A constant reminder that you aren’t good enough.
I’m not writing this for some sort of pity party. I am just trying to be honest and open. There have been SO many moments that I have loved throughout this journey. I have loved hearing that I have inspired so many of you. That I love and will truly miss. I have learned so much about myself which I am grateful for. I have also met and collaborated with such inspiring women and bloggers who have taught me some invaluable lessons along the way. That’s what makes this a little bitter sweet.
I waited until today to write this because today happens to be my birthday. As each year passes, I tend to sit back and reflect on my life and what I envision for the future. This year I’m giving myself a gift. The gift of letting go.
Does this mean I won’t ever post on here again? Not necessarily. When I get inspired, it’s hard to hold me back. ūüôā But that’s the key… It will be when I’m inspired, not just because I haven’t posted for a few days.
With all of that being said, I wanted to thank you for this amazing chapter in my life. I encourage you to sign up through email and if and when I do post again, you can check out any new happenings around here. I can promise the projects will not stop. ūüôā
Until then,
Susan

Easy “Frozen” Valentines

As we all know, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. So I wanted to share an easy one that my girls and I made for their classmates this year.

Yep! You guessed it: Frozen. It just so happens to be my girls’ all time favorite flick. And since I am sure they are not alone, I thought I’d pass it on to you.

I actually found some similar ideas on Pinterest and modified them to work for us.

I mean, who doesn’t like a miniature (and edible) snowman kit?
Feel free to download these valentine toppers below and mix and match as you wish!
Happy (almost) Valentines Day!!

Daily To Do Lists and Folders (& a free printable)

Hi everyone! Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. I know that it is actually February now and should be onto our newest challenge but I’ve been a bit behind this week so I need to finish up a few posts. I’ve been sharing some ideas and inspiration on creating your own command center¬†here¬†and¬†here. Today I thought I’d share mine (again) as well as the latest changes I have made (again).
I swear, nothing is safe around here. ūüôā
If you haven’t seen how I set up our command center you can catch up a bit¬†here. It has changed a bit¬†here¬†and¬†there¬†but the general idea
and set up has remained the same.

One of the latest changes has been to what I am now displaying on the bulletin board up top. This particular wall is very tall and therefore the board is hung a little high as well (at least for a shorty like me). So, the ribbon along the bottom is to clip things that change frequently such as photos and invitations. The top portion is for things that I don’t need to change that often but need to reference quite a bit.

So I decided to pick up a few picture mats from Hobby Lobby
to help display them a little better.
I then simply hot glued a clothespin to each
and tacked them to the board.
Now I can easily display my monthly checklists, cleaning checklist (coming soon), and birthday reminder sheet.

Now I’ve shown you my modified version of a tickler file¬†here

but I recently added a “To DO” section as well.

In this wall file I have a file folder for each day of the week.

WHAT’S IN EACH FILE FOLDER?

Well, I created a to do list for each day that I copied a bunch of times and clipped to each folder. (I also found a motivational quote for each folder because I’m cheesy and (confession) I need a little push sometimes to keep moving forward.)

Each day’s to do list is slightly different. I made them to include things that I have to do each day (so I don’t have to write them down each day). For example, my youngest goes to preschool three days a week so I have a chunk of time on those days to get some work done.
On the other days, I plan things I can do while my little tagalong is with me. ūüôā

WHY FOLDERS?

I thought this would be a great way to keep everything together for a particular day. For example, Tuesdays are when I plan most of my errand running. So in that folder, I might include my grocery list and any receipts for things that need to be returned, etc. Thursdays are when I pay bills and make appointments so I may include bills and notes for anything else I need to do. It just helps me to keep all of my daily to do’s in order.
I created a more general one because for anyone who’s interested. I know no one’s day looks quite the same. I also left a space on the side for notes as well as a space to reflect on the day and hopefully make improvements each day forward. This is something that helps for me.
Feel free to download your own free copy here.
Isn’t this the truth??

Setting Up a Command Center That Works for YOU!!

Have you ever had trouble finding a bill before it was to be paid? Ever missed a birthday party because you couldn’t find the invitation? Have you ever been late because you couldn’t locate your keys?
If you answered yes to any of these questions than you may be entirely over due for creating some sort of command center in your home. Yes, we’ve seen them (in fact I showed a bunch as inspiration on¬†this post¬†just the other day). And while you may have admired them from afar, maybe you weren’t quite sure how to make something like that work for you and your family.
You’re in luck today. Because I devoted today’s post on just that:
As we know, a command center can take many different forms. As I¬†showed the other day,¬†it can be hung on a wall, inside a cabinet or pantry, or simply be placed inside a file box on a counter or desk. The arrangement can vary but the function is relatively the same: to serve as a sort of motherboard for our daily lives. It keeps all that “stuff” that enters our homes organized in a way that we can reference and use at a moments notice. No more searching for school lunch menus or field trip permission slips. Everything is accessible yet put away at the same time.
Crazy idea I know, but it is possible.
First you have to ask yourself some questions. Because this isn’t something just to look at and admire. It actually has to work for YOU and YOUR FAMILy. And let’s face it, everyone is different and so are our families.

Answer these questions for you and your family:

WHERE WOULD A COMMAND CENTER MAKE SENSE

FOR ME AND MY BROOD?

Take a moment and walk through your day. Think about where you typically enter your home. Where do you drop things such as your purse, keys, backpacks, mail? Where do piles tend to form?
Now that you have an idea as to the general location that would be most convenient, take a moment to think about and ask yourself:

WHAT TYPES OF THINGS TEND TO CREATE THOSE PILES?

Do you have a general place for kids’ homework to land, bills to be paid, and schedules to reference? Start writing down a list of what kinds of things either pile up, get lost, or just look and feel cluttered.

And to help you think I came up with a list of possible ideas:

(These are in no particular order and are not limited by any means. Again this is to work for YOU so choose and add what works for YOUR self/family.)
  • 1 central family calendar for all to reference
  • Inbox for each family member
  • Message board to write notes/reminders for yourself or each other
  • Bulletin board to display other calendars/schedules, invitations, pictures, etc.
  • Place for mail–in and outgoing
  • Place for bills–to be paid and also filed
  • Place for things pending–to reference at a later date
  • Place for coupons/sales ads
  • Grocery lists/Meal planning
  • Job charts
  • Emergency numbers and other home reference information
  • Place to hang/store keys
  • Charging station
  • Place for receipts
  • Place to hang purse or backpacks
  • Place to store kids’ school work
  • Writing tools and other supplies (stapler, paper clips, calculator)
Once you have come up with a general location
as well as what you want to organize in this space, then ask:

WHAT IS MY/OUR PERSONALITY AND ORGANIZING STYLE?

Are you a visual/creative person that likes things visually appealing? Are you impulsive that needs lists to stay on task? Are you a perfectionist who needs structure and tidiness? Think about these kinds of things when planning the type of command center that will work for you. Some people don’t like things filed as it results in the old “out of sight out of mind”. Instead they need things in front of them as reminders. Be conscious of these things when planning.
Last but not least is not really a question
as much as it is just a reality with any type of organizing:

MAKE IT A HABIT.

Just because you spent hours planning and designing this super organized space for you and your family doesn’t mean it will be effective–unless you make it. And the only way to do that is through practice. Make a conscious effort to put things back where they belong and get rid of what is no longer needed. Your organized space can very quickly become unorganized if it isn’t maintained.

Here are some quick tips I have found useful

while maintaining our command center:

LABEL EVERYTHING.

When things are labeled it is easier to keep them organized because each spot has its own specific function.¬†Do not make the mistake of labeling anything with “miscellaneous” because it becomes a catchall for who knows what and defeats the purpose of trying to get organized in the first place.

Go through the new system with everyone who will use it.

Make sure everyone understands that everything now has a place and that you are all responsible for your own part. If you are the only one that knows how to use it, you will be forever frustrated because it isn’t being utilized correctly.

WEED THROUGH MAIL IMMEDIATELY.

The second it is brought into the house, recycle/shred any junk mail. Remove envelopes as they are just extra paper.
If you receive a lot of unwanted “junk” mail,¬†
consider removing your name from unwanted mailing lists such as:
  • www.dmachoice.org¬†(Sometimes takes a month of two to fully process the request.)
  • www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm¬†to opt out of Valpak coupons.
  • www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org¬†to stop Yellow Pages phone book delivery to your home.
¬†Hopefully you now have a clearer picture or idea as to how to create your own type of command center for you and your family. If you’d like to read more about how I designed ours, go¬†here. I plan to show a few more “tweaks” I recently made to ours as well as a new daily planner I created. Tune in later this week for those!

{Achieving} A Dog Walking Station

Spring is finally in the air here in Colorado. (I’m hoping our last snow is behind us anyway.) And that gets us all in the mood to be out side…..including the dogs!
I’ve shown you our sort of mudroom hallway where the kids get their coats and backpacks and display their masterpieces¬†here¬†and¬†here. But I haven’t shown you the other side–a little spot dedicated to our furry family members as well.

I’ve had this shelf for so long I’m not even sure where I got it. But it has become the perfect spot for our two dogs, Miles (golden on the left) and Charlie (lab in the middle). {Our other buddy Max passed away a few years ago but he forever remains a part of our hearts and family.} There is a little ledge on top which holds my favorite photos of our four legged pooches. Love that it looks like Miles is smiling. ūüôā
The hooks are also a perfect spot for leashes and collars.

And the drawer….well….for lack of a better word, holds…..poop bags! Because you don’t want to leave a little surprise in your neighbor’s yard you know. (These are actually intended for diapers but they are great for this as well.)
It’s all kept together close to the door for an easy grab and go before heading on a little w-a-l-k. (We have to spell out the word before going so that little furry ears don’t hear and get overly excited.) Gotta love dogs! ūüôā

Oh, and incase you missed this from my¬†laundry room post¬†a while back, we have a drawer designated to all things “dog” as well. Check out more of that¬†here!

HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE YOUR PETS?

ANY TIPS YOU’D LOVE TO SHARE?

Outdoor Spring Decor

Hi friends! Just wanted to let you know, that this week is my kiddos’ spring break so I can’t promise I will be posting a whole lot this week….we’ll see.
But seeing that it is¬†supposed¬†to be spring (although we wouldn’t know it with 6+ inches of snow on the ground) I decided to add some more Spring flair–this time to our porch. Yes–even with snow. I’m crazy like that. ūüôā
I bought five of these fun colorful pinwheels from the Dollar Tree,
 simply pulled off the handle from behind,

and tied them on to my front porch gate with some string. (See more about this gate here and here.)

Not that anyone’s going to be sitting on this bench quite yet (it is currently 7 degrees). But when it warms up, we’re ready!
Oh and here’s a little welcome for the Easter Bunny too!

Hoppy Monday! ūüôā

Project Home Management Binder Day 2: Tweaking the Command Center

As I mentioned the other day, I am working towards creating an efficient Home Manager Binder that will house pretty much everything we need to run our home/life more smoothly. (See this post to see the materials I am using as well as the categories I have chosen to include here.)
I also mentioned that we have a command center that serves
some of this purpose as well.

Here is a picture of our original command center.

READY TO SEE THE LATEST ADDITIONS?

Here it is after I added the chalkboards.
Now because I am truly trying to be deliberate in how I design the binder, I wanted to tweak our command center a bit to make it work even better for us.

The first little “tweak” was to paint the chalkboards using left over paint from our¬†laundry room¬†project.

With vinyl labels, I am able to quickly glance and check what
household chores need to be done each day.
(You can see more about how I came up with this chore schedule here.)

Although you may be thinking that wasn’t exactly¬†necessary, I am a firm believer in creating a space to motivate you to want to maintain it.

I also bought these little fasteners from Walmart (which are essentially velcro circles)

and attached them to colored markers.

Since I have assigned each family member a color, this makes it so much easier to grab the marker I need to add to our calendar when needed.

I also found these cute lil’ magnetic clips (Target) to hold
various notes and messages.

Which leads me to our wall boxes, where I made a few minor adjustments as well.

Each person already had an “Info” folder to hold things to read or do at a later date. Just sort of a place to keep personal things we aren’t ready to get rid of. We also had an “Action” folder to hold things that need to be taken care of the next few days or so.
After talking to my hubs, I decided to make a “Mail” folder for him to hold his unopened mail, magazines, etc.

I added a “Creative Order” folder to my pocket to hold time, expense, and mileage sheets that I need to keep record on for my business.

The kids'”Info” folder is more for school info and such that changes monthly (i.e. snack schedule). The “Action” folder doesn’t get used a whole lot yet just because they are young and their “action” is typically my “action”. But the idea is that when they get a little older and hold more responsibility, this will be their folder of things like weekly homework, etc. that they need to act on.
I decided to add an “Artwork” folder for each of their boxes to hold little masterpieces they create (at home and at school) that hasn’t gotten hung up but that I can’t seem to let go of (quite yet anyway). It also holds it until I decide whether it is worthy of filing away long-term. (See our “Waterman Art Gallery”¬†here.)

The middle “Pending” box is a condensed sort of¬†Tickler File. I have a folder for each month of the year. This is when things come up that don’t need to be taken care of or referenced for a month or more down the road.

For example, I stuck the Winter issue of the Rec Center catalog in the January folder because I knew I would be needing it this month to sign the girls up for gymnastics.

¬†This honestly has been really handy and helps give those random papers that we don’t always know what to do with, a home.
For whatever reason, I don’t have a picture of the wall pocket below this but it holds a “To be payed/Take action” folder for bills or other things that need to be taken care of on my bill paying day and a “To be filed” folder for things that need to be filed away. I pay our household bills and use a program called Quicken to do so. I will try and do a post to describe our bill-paying method in more detail one of these days. Now that we do them this way, I would never do it any other way.

Last but not least, actually resides in our pantry. But I thought I’d revisit it just because you could also have these as categories in a Home Management Binder. It holds our Take-out Menu/Coupon holder (see more about that¬†here) and a place to hold coupons before they’ve been clipped and put in my organizer (see that post¬†here). Again, another way to get paper off of the counter. ūüôā
Okay, that does it. I think I’m officially ready to start on my first category, Planning Ahead of my Binder. Join me next week as I do just that! There will be lots of printables! ūüôā

Project Home Management Binder Day 1: Creating Categories and Finding Materials

I’ve been continuing to cross off my January Organizing Checklist a little at a time.
  1. Make/Work on New Year’s Resolutions/Goals¬†(I’m probably not going to cross this one off just because it really is ongoing and ever changing. I don’t really believe in setting one or two long term goals without breaking them into manageable chunks and reflecting/editing when needed.
  2. Take Christmas stuff down. (See how I did that here.)
  3. Return or exchange any needed holiday gifts
  4. Write or make any necessary Thank you’s.
  5. Organize holiday cards. (See the holiday card place mats I made here.)
  6. Organize Photos.¬†(I’m still working on creating our yearly photo books but I’m almost done. See my posts about organizing photos¬†here,¬†here, and¬†here.)
  7. Find homes for new gifts.¬†This one is still a work in progress. I had a plan as to where they would all go but as we all know, plans don’t always work when put into action. Stay tuned next month as I tackle some¬†new projects¬†in the¬†play room¬†again to accommodate my kiddos new interests and “stuff”
  8. Make annual doctor and vet appointments.
  9. Sign the girls up for gymnastics.
  10. Register Tessa for Kindergarten. (Happening this week.)
  11. Organize/de-clutter storage area.¬†(This is also ongoing and something I am ¬†hoping to¬†reallytackle this spring–fingers crossed.)
  12. Create/Edit a Home Management Binder /Command Center

 

Which brings me to today’s post:

Creating a Home Management Binder.

You’ve probably seen a version or two of these all over blog land and truthfully, I already sort of had one. But it was just kind of thrown together and wasn’t really serving its full potential. So, I thought why not spend some time really making it work for our family? January seemed like the right time too–to sort of get all of our ducks in a row for the new year.
I’ve seen tons of different categories that people have used when making their own but since this isn’t for anyone but¬†our¬†family, I had to really think about what would be beneficial to us. We also have a¬†command center¬†that alleviates some of those categories as well (which I will discuss more as they come up.)

These are the categories that I plan to create/add to our binder:

Planning Ahead–This includes yearly, monthly, daily goals; ¬†to-do lists; weekly menu/meal planning, etc. (I’m sure I’ll add more as I get into it.)

School–This is a section for my kiddos’ school info that I need to keep for any period of time.

Reference–This includes emergency info; other contacts; babysitter info; pet sitting info; home maintenance, etc. (Again, I’m sure the list will grow.)

Good Times–This will include holiday/birthday preparations; other celebration planning; Special memory/tradition log; vacation planning, list of special dates and occasions, etc.

I think that is it –although it will possibly change as I get deeper into it.

***There are a few other categories too that I either have already or plan to devote an entire binder to rather than just a section in the Home Management Binder. I will definitely discuss these at a later date. They include:

Medical–this is for all of our medical info, receipts, etc. from doctor or hospital visits as well as birth certificates, social security cards, etc.

Home Improvement–this is for the ever evolving projects that are consistently going on in our home.

Recipes–this is to house any recipes I find either online, magazines, family recipes passed down or just ones that I jot down.

Blog–this is for organizing my thoughts when planning and writing blog posts each day.

Product/Warranty Info–This one is a maybe for me. As of right now they are in a file box. However, I’m always looking for ways to make this one simpler. A binder might be a possibility.

Some other great ideas but have other places/systems for are:

Financial or Budget section¬†(We use Quicken which takes care of all of this. This will be a post on its own—one day.)
Automobile log (I keep record of this in Quicken too as well as where I file our bills/statements, etc.)
Personal¬†(We each have a file box in our command center for this. I’ll discuss this more soon.)
As I mentioned above, I want to create a binder that is meaningful/useful to our family. Which means I want to put some thought and time into putting it altogether. So, I’m going to break this project into smaller-more doable pieces throughout the month. You are more than welcome to join along. The idea is that by the end of January, I will have a central place to house pretty much everything that we need to manage our home/family efficiently.
 

Today’s task: Getting the materials.

I chose a pretty 3 inch binder. I debated between this and one with a clean plastic cover. I decided I wanted something that I could keep out if needed.
So pretty won. This one came from Target. (Shocker I know.)
This particular binder doesn’t have pockets inside but it has a little clipboard in the front that I figured I could surely put to good use. ūüôā

The other little goodies I chose were:

hole-punched plastic folders
plastic tabbed dividers with pockets (you can never have too many pockets, right?)
clear page protectors

I also found some clear page protectors with tabs at Staples that I thought would be great to help divide my categories.

So that’s it for today. Remember–manageable chunks. Getting organized is a lot like losing weight: it’s about small changes that we can achieve and maintain.

Can’t wait to continue. Stay tuned!

Command Center New Addition: Chalkboards

A while back I posted about our family command center. (See that post here.)

I love most almost everything about this space because it gives a place for pretty much every bit of paper that used to land on our counters.
I say almost everything because there was one small part that was not
really easily used and made the wall look cluttered:
the bulletin board towards the top of the wall.

Because it was so high, it wasn’t very practical for someone my height (I’m only 5’1). And besides that, the pockets below were created to hold
most of what would go up there anyway.

I found these chalkboards at Hobby Lobby. They were $4.99 a piece and were 30% off of that. So I went ahead about bought six of them.

Hubs drilled a hole on each side.

He used the first one as a guide to make sure the others were all the same.
I decided to use one chalkboard for each day of the week (and one for the weekend). I found a fun font on my computer and printed out the days of the week. I simply taped them on because I’m not sure that they are going to stay that way.
You know me, always changing it up. ūüôā
Each person has been assigned a color so I wrote the cleaning and laundry schedule for each day. This makes it easy to see what needs to be done (around the house) and whose responsibility it is. ¬†The jobs are mainly mine with a few of Ryan’s (aka Hub’s). The kids have their own responsibility chart. (More on that in another post.)
I used chalk markers that I found at Michaels. They don’t rub off like chalk unless you get it wet.

I think this is going to serve a much better purpose
and doesn’t look quite as cluttered.

Wondering what happened to the bulletin board?

There was a wall behind our door leading to the basement
that has been begging for something to be hung.

Not sure what happened to the color in these pics.
The wall isn’t really splotchy like this.

Perfect place to hang those odds and ends: invitations, pictures, etc. That door is open most of the time so I don’t have to worry if it is starting to look cluttered.
**Stay tuned tomorrow and I’ll show you how to come up with a cleaning and laundry schedule that works for you as well as some free printables.¬†

Organizing my Kids’ Dressers

Yesterday I showed how I changed over and organized the girls’ closets for fall. (See that post¬†here.)

Today I wanted to focus more on their drawers.
And because my younger daughter only has 1 small dresser, I wanted to show you how I ¬†created more “drawer space” in her closet.

I mentioned in (yesterday’s post) that I decided to hang all of her shirts.
I then rolled up her leggings and sweat pants and tucked them neatly inside these bins.
This actually makes it much easier to see everything all at once and is very easy to maintain. {Score.}
So then I was left with Jeans/Cords, Undies, and PJs–all of which would fit into her three-drawered dresser. Pretty self-explanatory–except I did come up with a little trick to help keep her PJs semi-organized and allowing my two year old to pick them out herself. (We are at the age where she wants to do everything herself so I’m trying not to fight it as much as I can.)
I found a piece of foam board and cut it (not very neatly obviously) to the width of her PJ drawer.
I then covered it with the same wrapping paper that I used to line the drawers.
I then simply shimmied it down the middle of the drawer and added some chalkboard labels.
Now it was ready to put tops in on one side and the bottoms on the other. The best part about this is my little one can pick and pull her jammies all she wants and I’m not going to make a fuss. Some battles are just not worth having. As long as they aren’t on the floor, I am happy.
Onto my oldest…
Her dresser drawers were already black. But I decided to take them out and give all the fronts a quick couple of coats of chalkboard paint. (If you have been following along here at all, you are probably aware–I love that stuff!!)
I used the same wrapping paper as Lil’ Sis to line the drawers (just makes for a fun surprise when you open the drawer–don’t you think?).
And I am now able to label to my heart’s content. (I didn’t even mean to rhyme there. Cool eh?)
The best part is that everyone knows where things go–including hubs. Hear that honey? ūüôā
Well, along with making the drawers a little prettier and more functional on the outside, I decided to rethink the inside a little as well. First I switched things around a bit, putting shorts up in a high drawer (because we have enough drawers and there is an occasional warm day where they may be needed) and pants and long sleeve shirts down low where my soon to-be-five-year-old can reach them. I used to roll her shirts and while I like this better than just stacking them on top of each other, I was running out of room. So, I decided to fold and stack them horizontally.

This makes it so much easier to see what she has and we still have plenty of room to add to if needed.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see how I made some easy, fun closet dividers…..