Monday, December 30, 2013

What Works

Most of my organization systems are evolving or have evolved over time. Some systems have been nothing more than a "good effort" and live on as a work-in-progress. Others have worked, continue to work and (I hope) always will. That is what I am focusing on for a new series of posts called, "What works."

This series will be super simple, easy to implement fixes for every-day problems. Nothing fancy. Just tried and true.

Problem: coats (We live in MN so these are a problem YEAR ROUND!)
Solution: a coat tree. Did you know coat trees predate hangers, which were invented in 1903? Talk about tried and true! They really are quite handy. Call me lazy, but hangers can be a lot of work at the end of the day. It's so much easier to grab and go. The coat tree is the perfect spot to hang my purse and is even more ideal when we have company. Love our coat tree. Hooks could work just as well.

So, that's that. What Works (Part 1). Simple. Tried and true.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Thanksgiving Day "Turkey Egg" Hunt

I did it! In true blogger fashion, I spray painted something metalic gold! Eggs!

If you are looking for a fun Thanksgiving activity, this one is sure to be a hit. Or at least get the kids out of the house for a bit to burn off some steam and build their appetite.

All you need is some plastic Easter eggs and metalic gold spray paint. We plan to put some "seasonal" treats inside and maybe a $5 bill in one to get the older kids to "buy-in."

It should be a good time. If the kids don't get excited about it, that's o.k. I am excited enough for everyone.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Roasted Chicken

I roasted a chicken for the first time tonight and it was a capital S success. I scoured the Internet for a recipe that I liked and felt confident enough to try, but ended up making my own "hybrid" by using alittlebitofthisandalittlebitofthat from various recipes :).

What you need:
4-6 pound whole chicken (without neck and giblets). I used a "Just Bare" chicken
Kosher salt
Garlic (4 cloves)
Lemon (1 cut crosswise)
A bunch of Thyme
2-3 tbsp butter (melted)

What you do:
Pre heat oven to 425 degrees
Peel and thickly slice two large onions
Spread the onions on the bottom of a cast iron Dutch oven (drizzle with olive oil)
(You could cut up some carrots too)
Rinse the chicken (inside and out) and pat it dry
Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper (don't be shy)
Peel and smash (I use the broad side of my chooping knife) 4 cloves of garlic
Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and thyme
Truss the chicken (I had to watch a YouTube video by some guy named Jerry like a thousand times. It was kind of funny though so I didn't mind.)
Place your chicken (breast up) on the bed of onions
Brush the chicken with the melted butter
Salt and pepper your bird (to taste...but liberally)
Roast your chicken (uncovered) for approximately 90 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 165 (in the thickest part of the thigh)... I had to YouTube that

And that, my friends, is how you roast a chicken!

(says the girl who's done it once).


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No such thing as too many books...

There's no such thing as too many books, but there is such a thing as "too many books on the floor."

If you have littles in your house, you probably have this problem too... books EVERYWHERE. First, I had them on a shelf which Rex would clear with one swoop of his arm. Next, I had them in a cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind. So, I channeled my "inner teacher" and got a basket! It's easy to see and choose the books, and even easier to put them away.

Book baskets work!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Every problem has a solution - It's called Google

I am a sucker for an organized, well appointed closet. Since we moved in, I have been slowly tackling them one by one. Last week I tackled our linen closet.

I really did very little. I rearranged things in a more logical way and re-folded everything. Which brings me to the real content of this post...

Confession: until recently, I didn't know how to fold a bath towel the proper way. Gasp, right? And I call myself Type A? Ha!

Thankfully, every problem has a solution! 95% of the time, the solution is google :). Without further ado, I give to you, the proper way to fold a towel!!

Voile! A properly folded bath towel ready for towel bar or the closet. Speaking of closets, look at what a difference re-folding made in our linen closet.

P.S. Yes, I know how to fold a fitted sheet, but I am simply incapable of explaining, teaching or showing you me, I tried. Alas, all is not lost. If you would like to know how to fold a fitted it :).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A vandal and a thief...

I am in serious need of a break. I know this because at one point this morning I stopped thinking rationally and felt, with great conviction, that both of my children were destined for a life of crime...

Little miss Sydney hasn't slept for the better part of two days. She completely disregards the social norm of sleeping at night, assaults my ears with her deafening screams, and is slowly, torturously, robbing me of my sanity.

Mister Rex has taken to defacing personal property. See this step?

This step is where he does time takes time-outs. While explaining why he got a time out this morning (for stealing fruit snacks), I found this...

Sleep deprivation + crayon on freshly painted millwork = a deliriously tired momma thinking this...

In other news, we got new switch plates in the bathroom. Things are looking up! :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Small space, small budget, small changes... big difference

Well, we put a little lipstick on our master bathroom :). A more extensive renovation is several years down the road, so we needed to do a "for the time being" update. I am pleased with the results. There is truth in the statement "a little goes a long ways."

What we did...

1. painted the trim SW dover white
2. painted the walls Behr pure earth
3. changed out the light fixture (It was one of those builder "runway strips". Awful.)
4. Orange oiled the vanity
5. Added an etagere behind the cam ode (is that how you spell that?) Typing "toilet" just seemed undignified...but then I had to anyways because of my spelling doubts... shoot.
6. gave the whole room a very thorough scrub down

What we are planning to do...

1. hardware
2. towel hooks
3. new switch plates
4. MIGHT try the rustoleum espresso cabinet kit on the vanity... we'll see...hubby seems like he's game, but he has started a new hobby (brewing beer) so I have a feeling he's going to be less of a weekend warrior...
5. New faucet fixtures


1. gut it!

Without further ado... our lipstick-ed bathroom :)



Monday, July 22, 2013


Let me begin with a confession: I am sometimes tempted to make Rex eat outside... and the only reason I don't is because I worry what the neighbors might think...

O.K., now onto the real content of this post...

I found myself in a very grumpy mood last night around 9. I had gone several rounds with Sydney trying to get her to sleep, and had finally made my way back downstairs (with an armful of laundry) to (hopefully) enjoy a little quiet time before bed. I reached the last step, looked around, and started seething. Toys everywhere. Dishes everywhere. NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING was in its place. A very busy day had left my home looking very, very untidy, and [GASP] dirty. I found myself feeling very weary, very frustrated, and very...guilty.

How can I possibly be mad?...

You see, becoming a mom was not easy for me. I had four miscarriages in 2 years...It is impossible to understand that kind of loss (miscarriage) unless you have personally experienced it. Words can't describe it so I'm not going to try. Anyways, I promised myself that I would never lose perspective of what really matters if God decided to bless me with children, and after two years he did!!

I finally became pregnant (and stayed pregnant) with Rex in August of 2010. He is my miracle baby.

We got pregnant (and stayed pregnant) with Sydney just shy of Rex's first birthday. She is my happy little surprise.

We are beyond blessed!

Kids come with messes. It's part of the deal. I knew that... So why? Why is a little mess so hard for me to handle? Why have I lost perspective? I am using the phrase "a little mess" pretty loosely here. In my defense, our house very closely resembles a daycare most days, and many (if not all) surfaces are at least a little bit sticky or covered in finger prints and dog hair. Did I mention that we have two dogs? Seriously. What was I thinking? I must have lost my Type A mind temporarily. It's the only possible explanation. Anyways, I clean. I do. It just gets undone... which in turn leads to me coming undone...What's a type A mommy to do?

After a lot of thought (coupled with some encouragement in the form a FB post from an old college friend), I have decided there is nothing I can do aside from changing the way I see things. I need to train my brain to see the beauty in the toy strewn room and smudges because joy and purpose accompany tripping hazards and sticky counters. My house doesn't meet my very type A standards most of the time anymore, but my home is perfect...because of the kids in it :).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A pretty, little pantry - before and after

I have always wanted a walk-in pantry, and it was on my must-have list when we were house hunting... I didn't get one. Boo, hiss. But just because it's not a walk-in doesn't mean it can't be super functional and organized.

This is what we started with...

Not bad. Fairly organized... but still in need of some "Type A" love.

The problems:

1) It was in major need of a fresh coat of paint. Seriously. The previous owners must have had food aggression because it looked like someone got into a knock-down, drag-out fight with cardboard food packaging, and lost. Scuffs, scrapes, and food splatter EVERYWHERE. It was gross.

2) The door- ugly, old, in poor working order, and when opened would close off the doorway to the dining room.

3) Storage - normally, losing vertical storage is the problem. In this pantry, I was losing storage in the form of depth.

What we did...

We emptied the pantry, removed the door (good riddance), and gave it a fresh coat of paint. I chose a blue. It was supposed to be a pop of color, but due to my fear of dark paint, I ended up choosing a very pale blue. You can barely tell that we painted by looking at the picture, but we did. It is a very pretty blue... subtle, but pretty. I then maximized my storage by grouping like items in bins and drawer organizers.

What it looks like now...

More specifically...

Medicines are in the drawer organizer (I wrote about this in more detail in a post titled "Label It") on the top shelf next to the cereal. I considered purchasing containers for our cereal, but the packaging it comes in is fine and changing it wasn't go to give me any additional storage room... it was just going to give me another thing to wash.

On the second shelf, a bin holds our basics like rice and Bisquick. A tiered shelf holds our canned goods, and another, smaller bin holds extra condiments and dressings.

The third shelf holds all of our pastas (I labeled their containers so that I don't forget the boiling times), and two more smaller bins - one for pasta sauce and sides, and another for baking necessities.

The fourth shelf is home to a bin for chips and popcorn, and another for baby food (those little containers are a storage nightmare). The new three drawer bin for our K-cups is rocking my world (a drawer for decafs, a drawer for tea, and a drawer for the good stuff... what more could a girl want?)

The bottom shelf has three bins. One for crackers, one for sweeter treats (fruit snacks and cookies) and another for granola bars and nuts. Finally, the floor is home to a large milk crate used to hold our bags (reusable, paper, and plastic), as well as the puppy food container.

The final problem was the door, or lack thereof since we removed it. My very type A brain is screaming "It's a shame to hide all that pretty storage!" but I don't think the hubs would go for the open shelving concept. So, I purchased and hung an ombre curtain from a tension rod. I think I like it. It might not be a forever solution (we may buy a new, prettier door at some point), but it works for now.

It may not be what I dreamed of, but it is maximized, organized, and functional. Turns out I didn't even need a walk-in. Who knew? :)

Here is another before and after so you can really see the transformation...

Better, right?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

First impressions...

I am a firm believer in the impact of first impressions. The first impression of one's home is usually made at the threshold, and for that reason I am very particular about our foyer coat closet. However, since it is a coat closet, form MUST meet function. These are my tips for creating a functional, aesthetically pleasing coat closet...

1) use wood coat hangers (You can get them on the cheap at IKEA, and I found the kid sized wood hangers on Amazon)
2) purchase matching baskets to store like items (mittens/gloves, hats, etc)
3) label those baskets! (I made mine with gift tags and my label maker)
4) Purge (if you don't (outer)wear it, donate it)

Four simple tips and, voila, a pretty coat closet sure to make a good first impression.

Confession: I purchased my first closet organizer at the ripe old age of 10.

Note: We keep our shoes in the garage, which leaves room for baby gear and the diaper bag on the floor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


OK. I have changed the name of this blog more times than I can count. Sorry. Even I am annoyed. Like all things though, naming my blog has been/was a process - one that needed to evolve. But...drum roll please... I think I have finally settled on a name that I can live with - Confessions of a "Type A" housewife. The thing I love most is that I can make itty-bitty blog posts like this...

Confession: Sometimes I job hunt during nap time.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kitchen Re-do on a "2 kids under 2" budget

I'm an HGTV and design blog addict. While I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a designer, I decided I am going to post before and after pictures of our new house as the rooms evolve and projects get completed.

Our first project was the kitchen. The changes were few, but the impact was huge!

What we did:
1) painted the cupboards black
2) added cabinet hardware
3) changed the wall color
4) painted the trim
5) changed the light fixture over table
6) window coverings
7) new appliances

What we want to do:
1) bamboo or maple floors
2) french doors to backyard
3) new pantry door
4) pendent light over the sink
5) update all the light switches and switch plates (believe it or not, pretty expensive project)



note: we haven't installed the new blinds yet because someone measured wrong, and we aren't sure if we are keeping them. I will post another pic when and if we do install them...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Susan ain't lazy. She's a genius!

Whoever named this ingenious product (probably her husband) needs a swift kick in the rear. It is, by far, one of my favorite organizing tools as of late- the lazy Susan!! Susan is far from lazy by the way. The woman was clearly a genius.

Just as "going vertical" maximizes storage, the "merry-go-round" approach maximizes accessibilty. For years I have struggled with my under sink storage. I am a hoarder of cleaning products and I have always struggled to find a way to organize my "collection" in a way that is easily accessible. It never fails- go to grab the pledge and knock over 8 other products in the process; While trying to complete one task, I created another (that being the picking up of said products). Sad face... Until about a month ago that is. I had an epiphany! Put a lazy Susan under the sink! I can now grab what I need EASILY! Oh, happy days are here again!

It got me thinking. Where else could Susan's laziness change my life? The fridge! Anyone else do the "crouch down and search despairingly under the clear shelf" move to find that sneaky tub of butter? Well, no more crouching for this gal! Thank you Susan!

I'm sure there are about a ga-zillion other places in my home in desperate need of a lazy Susan, but for now I'm going to enjoy these two small victories. How about you? Where could Susan's laziness (or genius) solve one of your storage woes?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mothers Day: Keeping it Real

Yesterday was Mothers Day. I would like to declare that I had a blissful, relaxing day. That my breakfast was brought to me in bed and that I spent the rest of the day napping and making memories with my grateful children and admiring spouse. But, C'mon Man!! Let's keep it real. My Mothers Day lasted from approximately 7-7:15 AM. Yup. A whole 15 minutes all about me. Most of the day was spent doing the mundane and for most of the day, one or both of my children were crying. There were times over the course of the day that I thought, "really?", but for every hard moment there was a beautiful moment. Here are the highlights... The good with the bad.

I Woke at 7AM to the whimpering of my parasite daughter. (Side note: I think I had gotten approximately 5 hours of interrupted sleep.) After much debate, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and decided it would be in my best interests to feed her before her whimpers escalated to wailing. My gift from her: she smiled up at me. Best.Gift.Ever. I'm glad I fed her :).

I went downstairs around 7:10. As soon as he saw me, Rex exclaimed "Momma, Momma!"- Best.Gift.Ever

Tyler had a card and a gift waiting for me on the counter. We joke about greeting cards. How silly they are (i.e. do you like what some other guy wrote for you?), but we both give them to each other on each and every greeting card occasion. Keeping the romance alive, people! I also got a candle. Part of me (the crazy part) screamed "you got me a candle?!! I have given you two children in two years, and you got me a candle?!" The other part of me (the sane part) said thank you and acknowledged and recognized that amidst the chaos of moving, getting our townhouse ready for renters(including painting the whole house), working full- time and parenting our children, he found a window of opportunity to get me something. It really is the thought that counts. Navigating this crazy life together and not ending up on Dr. Phil yet- Best.Gift.Ever

That takes us to 7:15. Mothers Day effectively over... But everything I needed was in those 15 minutes.

Survival tip: Don't overlook what really matters.

We have our health. We have a home. We have each other.

P.S. this was all realized in hindsight. Just keeping it real :).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Start your day off right!

I think most of us can agree that how a day begins is a large predictor of how the rest of the day will go. Think about it. When you have a bad day, can't you usually trace its origins back to the first couple of hours?

So, this post is going to focus on the zone where the day begins. The bathroom. I recently heard the bathroom described as a real workhorse. A truer statement was never made! For this reason, organization is of utmost importance.

1. I keep my make-up and daily products stored "ready for travel." This idea was "birthed" when I was packing my hospital bag before Sydney was born. I bought a travel organizer and I liked it so much, I just never unpacked. My organizer (container store) simply hangs from an over the door hook. It is easy see and access my products, and when we do travel (not often), I just have to grab my organizer and a few things from the shower. Easy peasy. Admittedly, this won't work for someone who has a a lot of make-up. I have one eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, blush and a Chapstick (my version of lipstick). I know, BORING, but it saves me from additional decision making, which I am terrible at.

2. Feminine products are stored in a small tote. For 7 days, this tote can be kept near the toilet; It can be tucked back under the counter for the other 20-some odd days.

3. First aid and seasonal products (sunscreen and bug spray) are also kept in portable totes.

4. Tyler and I both have products that are exclusively our own, and as much as I love him, and as much as our lives are enmeshed, I still need my own space... even if its just a drawer. I am a huge fan of the stackable drawer containers for the purpose of categorizing like items; we each have our own under our sink (confession: I have stolen a couple drawers in his). The drawers are labeled of course!

5. My hair tools (hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron, etc.) are kept in a basket under my sink. I can pull it out when needed and tuck it back under when not.

6. Combs and brushes share a drawer with the Q-tips. Hoarding brushes and combs used to be a serious problem for me. A few years back I threw away probably 15 combs and brushes that I didn't use. Why I was hanging onto those unused combs and brushes like some poor soul from an episode of "hoarders" I still don't know. I think I, like many, hate the idea of throwing something away that I spent money on, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned when purging drawers, cabinets and closets. DON'T BUY S%#* YOU DON'T NEED! No one needs 6 brushes, 4 picks, and 5 combs. Find one of each that you really like and purge the rest. I know a lot of people put their Q-tips and cotton swabs in pretty decanters, (and I love that idea) but for me, if the packaging fits in the drawer and is easy to access, I don't change it. You know the saying, "If it aint broke, don't fix it."

7. Drawer organizers are used for toothbrushes, tooth paste and floss storage. This rids my counter top of that gross toothbrush holder that is layered/caked with "After brushing" tooth paste residue. Yuck. I recently came across a pin that suggested re-purposing a cutlery tray for tooth brush storage. Genius! Especially if you don't want to risk rubbing bristles with the other toothbrushes in the drawer.

8. Bath toys are simply kept in a tub scoop I found at Target. I wish our toy storage was more innovative, but it isn't. Maybe a future project? Since Rex will be turning two soon, putting his toys back into this container after bath will soon be his job. I am big on everything having a place and teaching little ones where those places are. Rex already seems to appreciate order and will put things away on his own. Not always, but often enough to make his OCD mommy proud.

9. I keep as much tucked away as possible. A clutter free bathroom is SO MUCH EASIER to clean!

And there you have it! A few tips (plus pictures) for creating a functional bathroom you won't mind starting your day in :). The last picture (of the empty drawer) is my proof (and pat on the back) that my system is working.