Tips for an Organized House

I read a lot of parenting books, blogs and magazines and one piece of advice that I have heard over and over again is that “the mess can wait!”.  Basically saying that it’s okay for your house to be a mess, when you’re just trying to get through the day with your helpless newborn, your active toddler, your drooly dog, your messy husband, or all of the above!

And while I completely agree that it is okay and there are many days where my house feels like a tornado just passed through, for the most part having a messy and unorganized house really stresses me out.  I’ve tried to just let it go like they tell me to, but I can’t. It’s just not who I am.  So here today to share that it is possible to be a good mom and keep a somewhat organized house.  It’s not easy… but it’s possible, so I wanted to share a few tips that have helped me achieve this.

1. Take advantage of “wasted” hours

I’ve been trying to limit my social media use because it is a freakin’ time suck!!!  While it’s not a perfected system, I like to set an informal timer when using Facebook or Instagram at night.  So for example, I give myself 20 minutes before moving on to something productive.  It’s crazy how time can fly when stalking celebrities on Instagram.

I also have been getting up at 5am (oh good times) to work out and while it’s suuuuper hard to get out of bed, I feel great afterward. I’m also getting used to it!  And if you don’t want to work out, sometimes getting up 15 or 20 minutes early and having that time to yourself before kids/partner/pets wake up, can do wonders for your day.  Use it to empty the dishwasher or fold one load of laundry, all while drinking a hot cup of coffee.  A lot can be accomplished in 15 minutes!  See #5 for more motivating tips on early morning working out.

2. Little time savors

Make lunches two days at a time (I make two days worth of salads for me and Tony and just wait on the dressing).  It’s faster to make in bulk and you get a day off every other day from this super annoying chore!

Put a basket at the bottom of your stairs for items that need to go up.  Helps keep your downstairs less cluttered and easy to remember to bring things up when you’re headed up anyway.

Prep everything for the next morning, the night before.  Lunches, backpacks, coffee, etc… And
meal prep on the weekend!  I plan out all of my meals on Saturday so that when I food shop on Sunday I know exactly what we’ll need for the week.  Oh and cook in large amounts cause I love me some LEFTOVERS!

3. Clean up the kitchen before bed

I can’t go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink (did I mention yet I’m a little crazy?) but waking up to a clean kitchen is a great feeling to start the day with.  Then in the morning, empty the drying rack and dishwasher, take out/defrost dinner food for that night, and put pans/pots you’ll need later out on the stove.  Little things, but big time savor for me later in the day between when we get and home and bed time which is CRAZY time!

4. Invest in boxes, baskets and buckets

Best way to de-clutter!  Toys, books, shoes – just throw them in a cute basket.  There’s no excuse not to put something away!

5. Cancel cable

So we cancelled cable when we moved and let me tell you, it’s liberating!  We still have Hulu and Netflix so I don’t feel completely TV deprived, but it’s been wonderful.  My TV watching is now much more intentional, in fact getting to catch up on shows on Hulu is the best motivator for me to get my ass on the treadmill in the morning.  Nothing like getting to catch up on the last Bachelorette episode to drag you out of bed.

Uninvited House Guests

No, not crazy Aunt Jane or nosy neighbor Fred, I’m talking about ANTS!

Every spring we get a visit from these annoying and creepy bugs, and now that we’re out in the ‘burbs, this year was the worst visit yet.  They start one at a time, and then suddenly the whole family is in the kitchen and I want to barf.

While Charlie, who LOVES bugs, could not be happier with the situation, I wasn’t having it so decided to take matters to Google.  After some quick searching for solutions that required only things I had in the house (there was no time for even Amazon prime!) I came across this recipe:

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Borax
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 small piece of fruit

IMPORTANT:  KEEP OUT OF REACH FROM CHILDREN AND ANIMALS! BORAX IS TOXIC!

I mixed the ingredients together and placed them in shallow dishes around the kitchen near where the ants were congregating.  Yogurt container tops and tupperware lids worked great.  I also used a very small piece of strawberry as my fruit (to bait them along with the sugar) and IT WORKED!

Now fair warning, it’s a little scary at first, as the 5 ants that were hanging will now bring their full posse.  But that’s good thing, as you want the whole fam to come out and eat your poison concoction.  Eventually it became a fun past time to watch!  They were like frat boys at a keg party!

After about 2 days, the party was over and we haven’t seen an ant in our kitchen since!  Make sure you really scrub the area that they crawled on though, as they leave a trail – and well, it’s just gross. But I’m thrilled with the results and will keep you posted if they return.

What at home bug solutions have you used?

Dress me please

I am grateful every day for one special room in our house, and that is my closet.  I struck shopaholic gold when we found this house, as I now have my very own walk in closet which means lot’s of room for NEW CLOTHES!  Mind you, I went from sharing a small closet with my son, in a room down the hall from my bedroom, so the bar was set pretty low — but still, I smile every day because of it.

Now what’s funny is that since getting this fabulous closet, I now have no time or energy to shop. So when I kept hearing about these personal stylist websites that mail clothes right to your door, I was intrigued.

I’ve always been a pretty frugal shopper, so investing in a monthly subscription was not my original intention. So for my birthday this year I asked for gift cards to two sites I had been hearing about as a way to try them out without a big commitment.   I’m excited to share with you the first site, called LeTote, which I have been really happy with so far!

Website: LeTote

What is it: For $49/month you get unlimited access to clothing and accessories.  You receive a box of 5 new styles at your door (yay packages!) you wear what’s in the box, return the box (free shipping), and get a new box. Repeat all month. 

Pros:  Packages + New Clothes = Happy lady.  It’s a great way to try new things, dress outside your comfort zone, with little financial commitment.

Cons:  Sometimes the styles and sizes aren’t perfect.  Also things are previously worn (but dry cleaned) which doesn’t bother me since I love shopping vintage, but this may not be for everyone.

My Take:  So far I like it!  The shipping is SUPER fast (I received my second box 2 days after I put my first in the mail) and it essentially provides me with surprise outfits for a few days a week!  I haven’t fallen in love with anything yet (and if you do, you can keep it and they will just charge you) but it’s been really fun to have new clothes to wear to work each week.  It also pushes me a bit outside my style comfort zone, which is fun.

Chambray dress from my first box

If you’re interested in trying it out, you can use this link for $25 off your first month!
Coupon: https://letote.com/r/56135B

Up next is Stitch Fix!  Can’t wait to get my first package and share the deets it with you!

Confession.

I’m in love.  With a trashcan.

I never thought I could feel the feelings I feel (whoa!) for something that contains my trash, but friends, this is the real thing.

I also never thought I would spend this much money on a trash can, but let me tell you, it’s been worth every penny.

Let me explain.

Our old kitchen trashcan was hidden in a cabinet, so I couldn’t have cared less about what it looked like.  But we don’t have that option in our new house, which means the can would be on constant display.  So now not only did I want the can to function well, but I wanted her to look good.

I had some pretty lofty requirements for our new hottie can.

1. She must open hands free (foot petal)
2.  She must take regular trash bags.  Don’t think you’re roping me into buying fancy custom bags. Nope.
3. She must be hard for my toddler to open.
4. She must have a compartment for both trash and recycling.  THIS WAS KEY!

After much searching, I settled on the Simplehuman 46L Stainless Steal wide-step rectangular recycler.


Source

It took me a week to justify spending this much money on a trash can.  I ended up picking mine up at Bed Bath and Beyond so I could use a 20% off coupon.  I sweated a bit coming home, thinking about the bags and boots and college funds I could have used the money for instead.  But let me tell you, this can ROCKS.  I use it at least 10x a day (can’t say that about my shoes and bags) and I no longer have brown Trader Joe’s paper bags full of recycleables taking over my kitchen.  I tell Tony about 3x a week how much I love the trash can.  He thinks I’m nuts, but I don’t care.  It just feels right 😉

A few notes about the can:
* It is deceivingly big.  We empty it maybe twice a week.
* Don’t listen to those reviewers who say you need to use the Simplehuman trash bags.  We use Target brand bags and while it takes an extra 30 seconds to get it to fit tight around the top, they do the trick.

 

Room Reveal: Sunroom

With spring technically here (get out of my yard, snow banks!!) we’ve been very busy with updates in the new house, focusing primarily on the sunroom.  The room was an addition to the original house, and is located two steps down, right off the kitchen.  The previous owners used it as their dining area, and since our kitchen does not currently have a space for a large table, we decided to do the same.  We also chose to create a sitting area, since the room gets an incredible amount of sunlight, and we have found ourselves sitting out there on the weekends, warming up!

We’ve still got some decorating to do, and will likely play a little bit of musical rugs (cause that’s what I do) but wanted to give you a first sneak peak!

This is the widest shot I could take, to give you a sense of the overall space.  The glass doors are all sliders with screens, which open up to a patio on the right side, a small porch to the left (not in photo) and the backyard in the middle.

The dining table is our newest furniture addition and was custom built from a FABULOUS family owned shop in New Jersey called Emmor Works.  You seriously have to check them out.  Not only is their stuff gorgeous, but it’s built to order, so get your creative juices flowing!  It’s also Potterybarn quality at a fraction of the cost. We went with the Trestle table (96″) with a dark walnut distressed top and a distressed ivory bottom.  Within 4 weeks of placing the order they built it, delivered and assembled it.  Shazam!

The blue tolix chairs that I hinted about here, were from Wayfair, and at $60/chair the price can not be beat! I was just on their website and looks like the price has gone up a bit, so if you’re interested, definitely keep an eye on them.  Click here for the listing.

Now the other side of the room is our sitting area.  I’m crazy about this table, which was a total Tony Craigslist find!  We had to drive an hour to get it, but for $75, it was worth the trip.  It’s an old boat door that was refinished and turned into a table.  Cool, right??  The chairs (here) and rug (old) are Ikea.

I still gotta throw some ploy on it, to make it a bit more toddler spill friendly :)

Last but not least, here is a picture of the ceiling.  I fell in love with the beams at first site, and the two sky lights and ceiling fan are going to be so great come summer.  Now if only we can hit 50 degrees!!!

Thanks for letting me show you our new space!  Can’t wait to update you on the fun decor we have planned, and of course, continue the house tour!

Less Energy, Mo Money

About three years ago I shared with you our experience of switching from oil to gas heat (read more here) and briefly mentioned the free Mass Save home energy audit we took advantage of, to help make it all happen.  Well we just had an audit for our new house, and the free service is just too great not to share the info with you.

So Massachusetts home owners, LISTEN UP!  And if you don’t live in MA, I’m sure there are comparable programs in your home state as well.  Let me know if you’re aware of them and I’ll share here!

So it starts with an online assessment.  Click here to take it.  Easy peasy.  This will let you know if you qualify.

If you do qualify (and I think the basic requirement is that you’re a home owner and have a recognized gas or oil account), next you’ll be asked to schedule your in-home assessment.  That means some friendly guy or gal from conservation services will show up at your house bearing gifts, and do a complete assessment of your home energy.

The FREE (and I mean absolutely FREE here) assessment in a nutshell includes:

  • Personalized report outlining recommended energy efficiency improvements
  • Screening for eligibility for the energy star refrigerator rebate (Um, they removed our old fridge AND gave us $150 for it.  Joke’s on them)
  • Air Sealing and Insulation specification, if applicable
  • Infrared Testing, if applicable
  • Combustion Safety Testing

And probably the coolest part…

  • Installation of brand new light bulbs, programmable thermostats, and water saving devices, as needed.

They swapped out EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of our light bulbs, including all of our recessed lights and sconces, and replaced them with more efficient and long lasting bulbs, including fancy dim-able LEDs which can cost big bucks and provide major savings to our electric bill!  We also have 4 heating zones which make efficient heating tricky – so for the 2 zones that don’t have a Nest (more from the Man Cave on this one) they gave us two FREE programmable thermostats.

Again, FREE people!

After the assessment you’ll receive a full report with recommendations on how to be more efficient and save money.  AND it’s the first step needed to apply for a no interest heat savings loan, which we also took advantage of at our previous house, for the new burner and new windows.

So when you get that less expensive electricity bill, You. Are. Welcome!

Parenthood is Hilarious

There are many truly joyous moments in new parenthood, and then there are those things that are just so absurd, you can only laugh at yourself, to avoid completely losing it.

Here are the top ten hilariously stupid things I admit I now do as a parent.

10.  Heat up food in the microwave, to then promptly put the food in the freezer to cool off for eating.

9. Use my son’s sleeve to wipe his boogers.

8. The great lengths I go to, to avoid a car nap.  Including throwing raisins into the back seat, opening and closing the window 100 times on a freezing cold day, and purposefully hitting potholes (sorry Tony).

7. Go out to dinner at 5:15 to avoid dining with other patrons.

6. Consider a wake up time after 7am a huge win.

5. Go to Target and ONLY buy diapers.

4. Let my son unwrap and play with a tampon in order to prevent a meltdown.

3. High five your husband after we realize we just barely missed a blow out.

2. Consider sprinting through the grocery store parking lot to grab the last car cart a legit form of exercise.

1. That time when we were drinking with other parent friends and we somehow ended up performing a full fledged rendition of Little Blue Truck.

Don’t judge me.  Admit to your own hilarious moments and post below!

 

 

The Tolix Chair

I’ve jumped on the industrial farmhouse bandwagon and I’m never getting off.

This has always been my favorite home decor look — think distressed woods paired with worn metals.  You know, stuff that looks like (or if you’re lucky, actually has) history.  Well now that we have a house that was designed for this style, I am in decor heaven.

After a great deal of time on Pinterest looking for dining room chairs, we’ve finally settled on a Tolix style chair for our sunroom, which is what we will be using as our dining area.

The Tolix Brand Model A chair has become an icon of industrial esthetics. It’s unfailing popularity since 1934 has enabled to enter the Collections of the Vitra Design Museum, MOMA and the Pompidou Center. This mythical chair, crafted of sheet metal, has been assured by «it’s fool-proof solidity, it’s unequalled lightness, it’s easy maintenance» advantages of which can be included «inexpensive». — Source

I am PSYCHED to put the whole look together (coming soon, I promise!).  I’m going to wait for the full room reveal  as it’s still in the works, to show you the ones we got (for a super deal, of course), but in the meantime, let’s swoon over the Tolix (or also known as Metal Bistro Chair) and Farmhouse table combo, shall we?


Via


via


Via


Via

I love these chairs not only because they are durable, easy to clean and move, but also because you can get them for a steal!  Plus they allow you to really play with pops of color if you so choose, and oh, we so chose.  Stay tuned!

 

The Starter and The Burb

The other night Tony and I were talking about all of the places we’ve lived, and I realized that since graduating from college I’ve lived in 7 different houses/apartments.  That is 7 moves, 7 USPS mail forwarding forms, 7 commutes to adjust to, 7 new sets of neighbors, 7 weird house noises to get used to.  How many places have YOU lived??

Our most recent move was probably the most emotional one I’ve had.  When we bought our first house (will refer to now as “The Starter”) it was incredibly exciting.  We were still newlyweds, and now first time home owners,  with nothing but time and energy to make the house our own.  Oh the plans we had!  There was not one wall in the house we didn’t change/paint/remove wallpaper from, not one floor we didn’t scrub/stain/remove carpet from.  By the time we left, three years later, the house was literally covered with our blood, sweat and tears (not in order of amount).

demo wallpaper-peel

I am nostalgic thinking back to those late nights we spent in the house, drinking beers and painting walls the cool new colors we debated over for weeks.  We ate dinner standing up, eager to get to work before we lost sunlight and were forced to share the one work light we borrowed from Tony’s dad, as the house did not have any over head lights.  It was tiring, sure, but looking back, we truly made that house our own, in every way we could.

So when we decided to move to house #2, which I will now refer to as “The Burb”, I was emotional.  On the one hand  I was psyched. The Burb had everything I wanted, and it was move in ready, which meant no wallpaper to remove, no windows to replace!  And now with a toddler in tow, hallelujah!  But I also worried that without that deep thumbprint that we had put on The Starter, would it ever feel like ours?  Or would it always feel like the house of the previous owners, those people who chose that paint color and those cabinets.

Those fears quickly subsided, after night one in the new house.  While barely unpacked, I looked around and realized the house already felt so much like us, and not the previous owners.  There was our furniture, our rugs, our bed.  Our music was still playing as we unpacked boxes, and our favorite beer quickly stocked the first shelf of the new fridge.  And my husband and my child, and my poor limpy dog, were there with me, looking so comfortable like they had been there for years.

Amazing how quickly a brand new place can feel like home, when it’s filled with the things and people you love.

 

Kitchen Update, Take 2

Backstory:  For those just tuning in, we have moved!  So this post, which has been hanging in draft land for several months, is no longer accurate as this is not our kitchen anymore, but I still wanted to share with you our final kitchen update because the progression was so much fun to go through.

Our first kitchen makeover happened shortly after we moved in (full post here).  This included replacing the appliances, restructuring some of the cabinets, and making a space for a dishwasher.  We then sat tight for about 2 years, saved up some money, and then moved on to the counters.

Hello Granite!!!!

We had talked about putting in granite for a long time, but were scared off by the price.  Well turns out granite is not as expensive as I thought it was!  Dont’ get me wrong, it ain’t cheap.  But I thought it would cost us over 5k to remove and install new countertops, when in reality we were able to do it for about 2k!    Again, not chump change here, but more affordable than I originally thought.  Am I the only one???

We went over to our local granite store called Stone Surfaces, and picked about 5 samples to bring home.  We eventually narrowed it down to these two.

While I loved the white and gray stone, we decided that the beige color went better with the cabinets.  We then returned to the store to look at the actual slab and determine how it would be cut, which was pretty cool.

Charlie was of course instrumental in this process.

Yes, we were hiring out to do the work this time – whoohoo!  But it’s never without a challenge!  As our laminate counter tops so graciously decided not to stop at the counter, but to proceed all the way up the kitchen wall.  Cause who doesn’t love a laminate back splash?


Yummy.

So we had to first figure out what to do with the wall once T-dawg removed the counters.  Painting the wall would be the cheapest solution, and since we still had leftover paint from the remaining kitchen walls, we decided that would be the best bet.  But can you paint laminate???  You sure can!  After extensive web research (thank you DIY bloggers) I learned about an amazing water based primer by Zinsser called Bulls Eye 1-2-3.  We got it at our local Home Depot.

This stuff is Amaaaaahzing.  It will cover anything, even slippery laminate!  Seriously, if you want to spruce up an old Ikea piece or something else that isn’t usually paintable, this stuff will do the trick.

So shortly before Tony removed the counter tops (wish I had a picture of this – it was a dirty job!) I set out to paint the “backsplash”.


Yes, the sexy headlamp was required.

Next the counter top folks came in and installed the new counter, along with the new sink (hardware not pictured here) and I came home from work to this!!!

So we have now gone from this:

Oh granite, I love you so….

Page 1 of 4712345...102030...Last »