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Let me start by saying that something AMAZING happened tonight!  Today was my first full day back at work, the boys first full day at daycare in a loooong while, and, aside from being a bit emotional, I just knew that I was going to drop when I got home- and in my delirium I would try and get dinner on the table, things cleaned up, babies dressed for bed before I drug myself in to bed by say.... I dunno midnight?!  Seriously- visions of frizzed hair, fried brains and blood shot eyes danced through my mind periodically throughout the day....and THEN A MIRACLE OCCURRED!  H managed to get the boys home and start spaghetti by 5:30 (huge props to the Hubby for that!)  I got home, served up dinner, with relatively little crankiness from anyone.  We ate and cleaned up pretty quickly- I even had time to run over the living room with the duster and some Pledge.  Last... but most important of ALL.... we got both boys- yes that's two, dos, deux, due- however you want to say- it in bed before 8:00!  Sweet Jesus, I never thought such a thing would ever happen before Little R was, like, 6 years old.  Whatever magical-stars-aligned-with-Jupiter-on-the-north-axis-of-Pisces-28degrees-south-of-Jerusalem-hail-Mary-miracle took place to make that happen I have no idea- but I'll TAKE IT!  For the first time in months (almost five to be exact) we had a house of silence at 8:00 pm- and it has lasted just about all evening long!

Okay- now on to the actual point of my post....  I have a very pretty, albeit small, corner in our kitchen/family area that is all mine.  Except there is one problem:  Because it is located in a common area, it has become the entire households catch all, dump all, clear the table for dinner place.  See:

Pile-O-Mess!
Pile-O-Mess!  Yep- that's a vacuum back there :-/

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What a disaster it had become!  And this happens on a weekly basis.  For the longest time I kept trying to wrap my head around a  system.  I had file folders and baskets and binders and containers galore, but could not manage to keep my little oasis even remotely inviting for more than a nanosecond.  And she and I have gone round this little cycle for months now.  We had a great love/hate thing going on- completely not conducive to my Happyness zen.   I was going over and over things- and drew up a sketch per usual- and still couldn't figure out what the issue was.

And then the light bulb went off- sometimes there is too much of a good thing.  I realized I was suffering from container overload.  I had out organized myself....and my systems weren't working because they were overlapping and never-ending.  There was too much stuff, and too many containers.  I had a container for filing, shredding, To-Do, to put away up stairs, to fix, to sort (yep that's right- I had a whole big basket of things that needed to be sorted in to more baskets).  I had folders that the filing from the baskets went in to, so that I could then, eventually, put the filing in the folders in to the filing cabinet!  This was over-organized madness.

So I emptied every container I had and set it on the table- I sorted through every sheet of paper and filled two trash bags full of junk mail garbage!  (Junk mail almost deserves it's own post here- and I forgot to take a pic of the trash bags before H took them downstairs- I now have a new found -or rather rekindled- hatred of junk mail).

Then I purged further.  I tossed a ton of magazines.  Last time I purged I said I'd keep my dressage magazines, two equestrian catalogues, some travel magazines for visitors, parenting magazines (you know because being a parent isn't enough), and our UNC Alumni publications- because I do like to occasionally remind myself that I went to college and spent my days at the coffee shop and sitting on the quad doing homework- back when I had that sort of leisurely time!  I also want visitors to know that our lives do not revolve around Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Curious George and matchbox cars.  This time- I committed to tossing out all of Dressage Today and all of the parenting magazines and a handful of DIY magazines that I picked up in airports.

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After the cleanup- H and I discussed keeping the dictionary because we figure Little P and Little R should learn to use one some day- and they've become so obsolete that they hardly teach kids how to use them in school- so Webster's gets to stick around for a bit.

After five hours of hard work....VOILA!....my little Happyness haven is all nice and neat!

Such a fresh start!
Such a fresh start!

I decided to use the containers for more permanent storage- i.e. sewing and craft supplies.  I vowed not to give myself any containers for mail or office upkeep:

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Now this is finally a workable system!

On the desk:  I allowed myself the file folders I already had and our family binders (if you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about then check out Jen over at IHeartOrganizing)- everything else had to be filed where it was supposed to go right away.  And then- like with the Kitchen- I focused on keeping the surfaces as clear as possible.

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The binders had to be gone through after all my sorting, so they were stuffed- but their proper home will be along side the magazine racks by the printer. 🙂

How was that for a Sunday afternoon?  Now here are my goals to keep it that way:

1- Take 15 to clean up every night.

2- Touch it once - and put it in it's proper place- not some holding cell (i.e. a basket/folder/desktop).

3- Disallow anyone else's inclination to pile it on.

4- Deal with the mail every day- including the junk mail.

5- Read the magazines and then toss them ( Exception:  UNC Alumni Review and travel mags- can't let go of those!)

How do you attempt to reign in the clutter and keep your office space neat?

Thanks for visiting and Happyness to All!

~M

I sometimes share at these parties!

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I've wanted to clear out under the sink for a while now...

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What a mess...couldn't find anything in there!

So this evening while I was waiting on the stew in the crockpot, I took a half hour and did it!  I have to admit that what finally lit that fire was Abby over at Just a Girl and Her Blog.  I did not have the time to be as thorough as she was- but I fully intend on eventually making the cleaning caddies that she did for each part of the house!

First I pulled  everything out on the floor and separated it into groups:  flooring, dishes, surfaces, miscellaneous.  This is also when I notice that big crack in the wall back there and made a mental note to get H to patch it!

Then I ransacked the house for some spare containers to have some division of space.

Below is what I accomplished at first:

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Except that didn't suit my organizational Happyness so then I re-arranged again:

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Dish washing things front and center- because we need them constantly! Sponges, cleaning rags and trash bags in the drawer. Dish washing liquid on top.  Plant food behind because I only need it once a month!20130602-183050.jpgTo the left- Febreze and miscellaneous things like oven cleaner and WD-40 (because I can't stand squeaky doors!)  That big jug back there is for the Mircle Grow water for my plants 🙂
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To the right- floor cleaners in the back, surface cleaners up front, with the constantly used disinfectant wipes within hand's reach!

So much better and it didn't cost a thing!  And it only took 30 minutes to give me a little Happyness boost before I sat down to pay bills (not so much of a boost there).  So remember:  clear out, group together, and contain!

Thanks for visiting and Happyness to all!

~M

I share at these parties!

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We are six weeks in to life with baby 2.0 and a toddler, and I must be going through what H has christened Postpartum Nesting, because I suddenly am overcome with the need to reorganize everything in the house.  And I mean everything.  Every time I turn a corner I'm staring at unused/misused/disorganized little messes and they are starting to drive me nutty.  And the place is overrun with Little P's toys- they appear out of nowhere, right under my feet to injure me in the middle of the night.  Now, I typically go through this during the onset of Spring anyway, I love a good spring cleaning like anyone else.  But this year the clutter is worse (I blame sleep deprivation) and the feeling of needing to have it all done, like, yesterday!  is exponential.  This will be the first of several posts on my Springtime/Postpartum Nesting Home Organization Makeover.

Here we go...

I looove our kitchen, and we have a ton of cabinet/pantry/counter space.  Anyone would adore this kitchen.

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And yet, the kitchen is easily the first to go haywire in our house.  It starts with the pantry and ends with teenagers putting things away and toddlers moving everything around!  I'm not entirely innocent either- I realized that I had baking goods in virtually every cabinet, and kid/baby dishes in every cabinet, and cups, plates and miscellaneous items of some sort in every cabinet!  How did we manage this with so much space? 

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See?

And don't get me started on the pantry.....

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I've really known for a while that I needed to set up zones, but it seemed way too daunting to haul everything out of the cabinets and put it all back.  Obviously what I needed was a little postpartum OCD mixed in with the Spring Cleaning Bug and Voila! thus begins the crazy organizing spree in our kitchen....

I wanted to try really hard to follow Jen's advise at IHeartOrganizing and clear out everything, sort, purge, toss and put it all back.  The problem was this is what the island looked like when I got only the baking goods out of the pantry:

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This is also about the time that I realized that all my baking goods were not going to fit in the single cabinet between the fridge and the stove, and that my "baking" zone was going to be enormous.  (Next week you will get to see why, because I have a cake to bake for my sister's Beauty and the Beast cast party.)  So instead I did what I always do before I tackle any re-arranging project- I sketched it out on paper as a map.

DSC00337It's a crude sketch- I know- but this really didn't warrant me digging out the drafting paper and a ruler.

Since there were some things throughout that would remain in their existing cabinet I used my map to tackle one cabinet at a time, clearing a shelf when I needed, and finding the things that needed to go where I put them on the map.  So essentially I was emptying other cabinets while organizing one.  Whew- hope you followed that crazy thought train- welcome to the world inside my head!

Anyway, in order to not make this post horrendously long (and since I'm already approaching 500 words- I find it funny that producing a 500 word essay for college was much more difficult!), I'm going to post before and afters going clockwise around the kitchen from the pantry (over on the other side of the fridge) around to the door way.  You already saw the pantry before....so here is after:

So polished!
So polished!

From top to bottom: 1) rarely used appliances and decorating supplies (labels will come later I promise!), 2) baking ingredients and prepping tools, 3) breakfast foods and breads w/ appropriate condiments  4) snacks, crock pot and bread maker  5) picnic basket and Little P supplies- blocks, playdo, art, books, cars on the floor.  Remember when I said all of his things were under foot?  Well now they are less underfoot and have a place to go at the end of the day.  And yes, that's a container with bubbles on the top shelf- because it has to stay out of reach or we're in trouble!  In the left door we have grocery bags used for recycling, and in the right door are baking spices and more decorating supplies.  I was giddy with Happyness when I got this finished!

Where did the rest of the condiments go?  In the cabinet I thought would fit all the baking supplies- HA!  It used to hold baby bibs, baby snacks, and baking ingredients!  Now we have the spices, dinner prep ingredients, canned goods, and cooking oils all in one place within reach of the stove.  This works well since I started meal planning and only shopping according to the plan- this keeps me from having a ton of extra stuff cluttering up the cabinets.  If I have extras I put them up behind the cooking oils.  In the drawer below are the foil, wrap and Ziploc bags.  The cabinet below that holds food storage containers- all nice and handy by the fridge.

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What's that on the top shelf you ask?  Well our cabinets are super tall- and the top shelf is really unused.  So the top shelves in the entire kitchen are dedicated to my grandma's china that I inherited and can't yet part with.  It also dominates the never used cabinets above the fridge.  You'll be shocked at how big the collection is as we move around the space!

Some time around now H got home to a kitchen that looked like a tornado had rolled through.  So we had fast food for dinner- which we almost never do, so that tells you how desperate I was to get this done!

Okay next is what I've dubbed the kid cabinet, which also now holds cook books and recipes (not yet in their place because i have to organize the whole giant pile or random paper-funny how one project instantly necessitates another), pitchers and ice tea bags.  Thank you to Jen, for the bib idea and also the idea to store the kiddie utensils in a cup!  I've stored extra bibs and kiddie cloths in the drawers below these cabinets.  Also in the drawers below are towels and rags, a deep drawer holds pots, a single lower cabinet holds our pans, and another drawer holds our cooking utensils which use to live in a caddy on top of the counter- Hello free counter space!

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Now we come to the most useless cabinets in the kitchen- the teeny tiny triangular cabinets flanking the sink.  I mean, seriously, we couldn't fit a darn thing in there without it falling out and yet it held many precious items!

Before
Before

So I ransacked the house for every extra little container I could find to house all the things previously in the cabinet.  These cabinets hold all the meds and other sick family member supplies.  I find it totally appropriate that all the little ones' meds are in a Captain America tin 🙂 !

After.
After
After
After

I will not show you under the sink- because it is still a mess and I classify it as cleaning products- which I envision an entire post on.

Now on to the cabinets that hold the bulk of our dinnerware:

Before
Before
After!
After!

The drawer beneath this cabinet holds our silverware, and a rarely used cabinet holds an assortment of plastic bowls that Little P can play with at will- giving him the feeling that he's doing something sneaky when really I don't care that he's in the cabinet!

And of course, the best is for last, my fav cabinet of all time- the cabinet that is my own personal slice of paradise- the COFFEE cabinet!  H is always trying to get me to pare down the coffee mugs- and it's really hard.  I mean, coffee and I go way back, we are the best of friends.  We've been together through good times and bad and I credit him personally with my success as a wife and mother!  (Well not entirely- I guess I owe myself some credit there!)  And when I do manage to clear a mug from the cabinet, it usually ends up at the office, or used as a pencil cup.  I guess he has a point, the coffee cabinet is pretty crazy looking:

Before
Before

Well now that I look at it- I guess it's not that bad- I've even carved out spots for his cousin, Tea (my grandmother was Irish after all so I enjoy a good cup of tea!)  However, it was a little cluttered looking, so...

After
After

I'm proud to say that I not only made the Coffee cabinet look this pretty, but I only got rid of 5 mugs that were chipped or were unwanted mugs that had been passed to me when I was poor and in college (seriously, I think one was an old tin camping mug from the sixties)-  AND I managed to fit in our vitamins, travel mugs and first aid supplies!  Post-its serve as temporary labels until I get around to doing some pretty ones.  The bottom shelf holds the coffee, teas, two tea cups (which are the only two we have outside of Grandma's china), and the vitamins.  Shelf two has all the paired mugs and travel mugs.  The third has all the unique mugs and the first aid stuff.  The top shelf holds a rarely used but adorable tea pot and accessories, and all the holiday mugs.  The drawers below house coffee filters and scoops, and our junk.  The cabinet below that is all things furry friend related- together with transitional items like vases and decorative bowls that I only use when needed or interchange throughout the year.

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Notice all my bottom cabinets are latched- which is great since Little P has taken a liking to dog food.

Did I mention all the free counter space I know have?

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At this point in the photo op it's like 1:00 in the morning, so I neglected to take a photo of the other counter until today:

DSC00386Oh goodness, and I forgot to show you the island and the cabinet above the stove- so real quick here we go:

Liquor, rarely used wine glasses, and yes, more china.
Liquor, rarely used wine glasses, and yes, more china.
Prep/grilling
Left drawer of island- Prep/grilling
Right drawer of island-more prep.
Right drawer of island- more prep.
Left cabinet- lids, stew pot, and serve ware.
Left cabinet- lids, stew pot, and serve ware.
Right cabinet- baking prep and pans.
Right cabinet- baking prep and pans.

Oh, Holy Happyness- what a beautiful kitchen!

Happyness!
No, I will not remove Little P's artwork 🙂  Happyness!

Happyness Tip:  Never assume it will only take a couple hours!  What I thought would be about a three hour project turned in to 12 hours!  Between caring for Little R and getting other things done this ended up being a very long day.  Much like this post- which has taken 4 hours to prepare- instead of the 1 hour I had planned for!

Love and Happyness to All!
~M

Sharing at:  Remodelaholic  and Blissful and Domestic