Thursday, June 28, 2012

Entryway...what entryway?!?

Our house is one of the typical style of homes with an entrance from the garage. Our layout dumps you right into the hallway that leads to the bathroom/laundry room (a project on the near horizon), the stairs and office, and into the living room. Why, oh why, can't builders include mudrooms in their plans!?!

Keeping all five kiddos and all their goodies together is a challenge as we have not only YMCA camp to worry about, but also gymnastics, dance, and other activities most nights. The current space was a row of hooks in the kitchen for the kids to hang their coats and backpacks and a nice IKEA Hemnes Shoe Cabinet for the kids. Should work just fine, right? If only! The list of what was NOT working in the space was (sigh) rather lengthy:
  • Hooks to low to the ground now that kids had gotten older
  • Distance from the garage entrance 
  • Items not making it to the drop off point
  • Kitchen location meant lost kitchen space
  • Nearby table space was seen as equal opportunity dumping grounds
  • Shoe storage was not in the same location as hooks
  • Not enough space between hooks for all the gear
  • No paper storage locations for school paperwork
  • No location to place lunch boxes or trash from bags
I could go on and on, but suffice to say the list of complaints is long by both me and the LOML (Love of My Life). I can't believe that I am actually going to share this (it really is h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e), here is the nightmare mess we've been dealing with.

For a while now, I have been Pinteresting all my favorite Entry Designs hoping to find one that was exactly perfect for our space and the needs of our family. 


Isn't it gorgeous? It is stylish, functional, and allows the flexibility to modify the space as needed to suit the family as children grow. I love that there is room for multiple pairs of shoes, items accessed frequently using the drawers and hooks, and then for items not frequently used with the baskets above. I also love these layouts as well.

Unfortunately, most of the designs assume that you are coming in the front door of your home or that you have a large amount of space to work with for the design. For us, we do have a nice entryway with one wall that could work; however, it is the same distance as the kitchen so would not align with how our household operates and how the kids move through the house (not to say that we haven't tried!). 

Since I have this week off from work, it is time to sit down and put a plan into action. What stylish and functional solutions have you been coming up with to address the coat and backpack onslaught from your family?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chalkboard Fridge

One of my favorite things to do is take items that we use everyday and making them more. Currently our fridge is probably like most, a collection point for school pictures and calendars, random magnets, items to remember, and other items that at one point were needed and are now forgotten.

In comes creative thoughts and ideas for the fridge.

I love the look of the chalkboard paint on the fridge, the ability to add our meal plans to the fridge, and the overall style. So in come the challenges:

1. Painting the fridge. Once the fridge is painted, then I am committed to it with no going back. And if I change my mind, there aren't a lot of options other than to paint the fridge a different color. Fortunately for me, our fridge has tracks that allows you to insert panels into your fridge.

2. Finding the right-size masonite. For our project, we needed 1/4" thick masonite. A check for several Lowe's and Home Depots let us know that they only carried 1/8" and 3/16". In a moment of frustration, we considered just added cardboard behind the panels, but this could lead to chatter as we wrote on the board. A search of specialty lumber stores found exactly what we were looking for. Yeah!

3. Chalkboard dust. Dust is always a problem and adding more to it and on a hardwood floor, no thanks. After doing a bit of research, I found out that there is a lovely project called Chalkboard Ink and there are A LOT of colors!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meal Planning Time!

How many of you have had the following happen to you in the last month?
  • Looked at your fridge and pantry wondering what to eat?
  • Wondered how you fit that much into your shopping cart?
  • Ordered out because it was just plain easier?
I have to say, I have been guilty of all these things and more, in the past. However, with expenses and home projects we want to accomplish, saving money on groceries is priority one! Especially since we have so many lovely projects in progress (such as the kitchen re-org) or planned for the horizon (master closet, laundry room, etc).

I have also been motivated by the great blogs I have been following. There are SO many awesome tips out there from people who flat out kick you-know-what at saving money on groceries and making meal planning painless. To you all, thank you!

I have pinned a lot of great ideas on different things I can do, such as:

A recipe binder for keeping our families favorite meals handy. I especially love the visual for each item, as I will rarely cook something that I can't see a picture of beforehand.

A great iPhone app for electronically tracking our shopping list and keeping track of the items that we purchase. Also, it keeps us focused on what we need, not everything that looks tempting.

I also love (LOVE!) that it automatically syncs our phones so we never have to worry that the other person got items on the list AND that you can categorize all your items. Yep, it was definitely love at first site with this app!

Easy (and FREE) access to coupons and recommendations on how to get the biggest bang for the buck in the shortest time possible. I am blown away by how many great tips, tricks, and goodies are on this site. The Pinterest boards alone could keep me entertained for quite some time and the coupon database is beyond cool.

A weekly meal board to document what we are going to have for the week, which should help us avoid the whiny "But I am hungry now" and "what's for dinner?" routines that we get ALL THE TIME! I love the team color of this one from Jen at iheartorganizing, but the day icons on the board below. Might even have to go with some spiffy chalkboard paint!

Source: Tip Junkie

Now that I have my ideas all rounded up, it is time to implement. What are you doing to save money with groceries and meal planning?  Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Garage Nirvana

Garages are such multi-purpose locations in our homes are are used frequently, but often neglected. At our home, we use the garage for:
  1. Lawncare storage
  2. Recycling and garbage bins
  3. Bikes, helmets, and scooters
  4. Home projects
 With all the activities that we've had going on, the garage has been the official dumping ground for all these efforts as well as for our recycling bins (three in total). Unfortunately, these have to sit flat on the floor and take up oodles of space. I thought moving them to the workbench might be better, but then that takes up valuable space that we would much prefer to be able to, well, use. While Pinteresting (of course!), I found the most clever idea from Family Handyman magazine.
The home projects are numerous and frequent, but the most space consuming is the planning a major garage sale as a result of our household endeavors and boy are we pack rats! I really didn't think that we could have that much stuff that we didn't need, wasn't useful, and didn't make us happy. However, that will be a blog for another day.

Absolutely. Freaking. Brilliant! For the cost of a 2x4, a 1x4 and some screws that we had on hand, we were able to take some unused wall space and turn it into recycling nirvana.

Next, in a fit of cleaning and purging, we went through the garage looking at what we needed to keep, what was garbage or recycling, and what needed to be relocated. Most items were things that needed to be moved out to the storage shed where they belonged. The rest needed a home and quick!

A lot of items went into our (already) full recycling bins and other items went into the cabinets or above in the hangers from Home Depot. Another great idea!

Finally, it has come down to five bikes, five helmets, and three scooters. The garage is out as it would mean that we would be hanging the bikes, which would make them inaccessible to the kids without help. This is a nice option, but somewhat spendy for our budget.

The next option is probably more realistic and suited to our storage needs.

The drawback? The plans are from a company in the UK with the exchange rate to match. (Sigh). Regardless, I am still looking for great ideas on bike storage. What creative ways do you store kids bikes?

I am part of the Inspiring Thursday link party!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Creative Ideas Abound!

Today is a bit of inspired randomness, largely brought on by great coffee and delicious ideas as part of the Spring into Organization link party.

Oh my...the ideas that I am seeing are SO creative, cost effective, and simply gorgeous! I am definitely in major love with the link party concept. What a great way to share ideas and get the creative juices flowing. My creative juices are flooding me with ideas and I have been busy over the weekend perusing the sites and Pinteresting my favorites on my various boards, including Lovely Organization. If you haven't been Pinteresting yet, watch out! It is so incredibly helpful for organizing your inspirations for different projects visually and making notes about what elements of the post, picture, or article that you liked. You do have to request an invite or be invited, so feel free to ask me to invite you. I love helping others get their creative mojo on, all while making it more efficient!

Speaking of helping others, I LOVED the post by DaNita of Delightful Order. Thanks so much DaNita for the wonderful article on How to Link to a Link Party for the Spring into Organization Link Party.

As a new blogger, I am up to my eyeballs in figuring out how to customize my blog so that it is pretty, functional, and (of course) organized as nothing makes me want to check out a blog more than seeing great layouts, harmonious colors, and cool tools. Jennifer Jones from iHeartOrganizing updated her blog in February with mouseover images so you can see where she got the products from. I really LOVE the idea of giving my product sources right off the bat!

Source: iHeartOrganizing

So now, I am splitting my time between continuing my organizational fun (and boy, the fun I am having!) and working on my blog. At home, I've had lots of projects going involving my Silhouette and labels (so fun!). The blog is my newest addiction and I really like having this creative outlet. These are, of course, in addition to all the other wonderful things I have going on with my family and with work. Definitely busy, but wonderfully fulfilling times!

So, what were your favorite items from the Spring into Organization link party? What are you doing to spruce up your Blog as a result of the other sites you saw?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Kitchen Re-org: Part 2

Last (and first!) post, I was blogging about my kitchen angst. While I am not 100% out of the woods, the kitchen has definitely become much more functional. Before the transformation, the space was underutilized and consisted of glass bowls and stacked papers.

The space was better suited to pantry items where bins fit perfectly and the depth was not so great as to lose items in there permanently. One half was dedicated to baking and related items. This has already made a huge difference and with items not buried behind one another, it is easy to grab out for meals. The baking goodies are great and when making breakfast the other morning, I didn't have to run between three different cabinets on three different sides of the kitchen to get what I needed. Yeah!

On the counter space below, I set up wine and coffee stations with all the fixings I add to make my better-than-Starbucks drinks every morning. Having my travel mugs, Keurig (oh, how I love my Keurig!), and vanilla flavor all in one place has kept me from going out and buying a Starbucks (at $4.05 a pop) and has put 10-15 minutes back in my schedule!

The old pantry became a combination area for glassware, storage items and kids pantry items. All kids items were corraled into bins and storage items went in the back. Plates, bowls, and related items moved from three places in the kitchen to directly above the dishwasher with glassware to the right. I can't get over is how wonderfully functional the kitchen now is; no more items falling on top of one another or getting lost in the cabinets. The kids are even involved in the action and did quite a bit of the labeling themselves.

The result is a kitchen that is organized, but very much a work in progress. I still want to:
  • Create meal bins with all the dry ingredients needed for a recipe
  • Finish labelling bins and add some more decoration to other bins
There are other areas to corral that I am just not sure what to do with. For instance, the table that ends up as the household dropping ground and the corner that collects all things bread, fruit and vegetable. After dinner, this is also the area where all the kids drop off their plates and other items. Please let me know if you have any ideas!

IHeart Organizing

I am part of the Spring into Organization blogger home tour!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Kitchen Re-org: Part 1

For months, I have been following the creative endeavors of so many very talented individuals and getting oodles of inspired and gorgeous ideas (especially Jen of iHeartOrganizing. This is a girl after my own...well, heart! So many ideas that I was pretty sure that I was starting to loose all my great ideas. Then Pinterest came along and that started a whole new round of inspiration!

Fortunately for me, my creative outlet has been put into hyperdrive with all the work the house is going through to get it ready for our combined family of seven with five great kids and my wonderful man. Combining a family of three (and two cats) with a family of four has made for some very interesting challenges. Having five backpacks dump out at the end of a school day along with whatever gravel and woodchips they've picked up on the playground makes quite a mess...then comes dinner. Getting dinner on the table that provides the basic food groups, isn't a repeat of mac & cheese, and is something that everyone likes is a whole other challenge. The challenge becomes Everest-like when you take a look at our kitchen.

In case you can't see from the picture, there are only five drawers in the kitchen and they are less than seven inches wide. The majority of items that are kitchen basics don't even fit in the drawers. The counter space is at a premium and the pantry so deep (27 inches) that you can't physically reach the back...and I am 5'11" with the reach to match. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed, so immediately turned to the clever guidance of many bloggers and Pinterest to save the day. Here are a few of the inspirations that I found. 

Source: BHG 

I love (LOVE) how organized this pantry is and especially how the wire bins have been used to organize meals. That means just picking up the bin and voila! the thinking around what to have for dinner has already been done for you!


To add a bit of style to the plastic bins, I really like these chalkboard labels. The ability to see the items and how much you have in a stylish, yet functional container...sign me up!

Source: IKEA

Ohhh and the drawer organization. It, quite frankly, makes my heart sing in three-part harmony. Look at all the places for everything and the fact that EVERYTHING is in its own special spot. If only I had drawers that weren't a measily 6 7/8" wide. Obviously, a thought to the gadgets required to cook and eat a meal was not considered in the design. Here is a little taste of the challenges I am facing.

Despite all of its challenges, I do love the kitchen. It has great light, good flow into the dining room, a clear view of the living area, and easy access to the deck for alfresco dining (I hope to do this a lot this summer!). Not to mention a nice counter/bar area for my coffee prep area.

So with all that inspiration, it was time to get down to the business of deciding what the kitchen needed to be. To assess the kitchen space, I considered the following:
  • What goes on in our kitchen?
  • What cabinets do the kids use most frequently?
  • What is working?
  • What is not working?
  • What cabinet do I go for something that is not there?
The first four questions are obvious, the last one probably takes a bit more explanation. Because we have just combined households, I will frequently go to a drawer for an item as I would in my old kitchen; nevermind that they are not at all set up the same. I still manage to do this at least 2-3 times a day. So after all this Pinteresting and answer seeking, I dug in. In my next post, I will share the transformation.