inside my fridge

inside my fridge

OK. So I have a cute and super simple DIY project that I’m going to show you, but you have to promise not to laugh… cause it involves looking inside my fridge.

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When friends and family come for dinner, I often secretly hope they WON’T open my fridge. With six people in our family and lots of food going in and out, it seems to be a messy place. But when I take the time to pull out all of the shelves and wash them, the rest of my house could be a disaster, and I feel great about myself! I LOVE pulling open the door and finding a bright, clean and organized space!

When I became obsessed with organization a few years ago, I found out about fridge coasters and put them on my birthday list. (That’s the mental list of things I want, but would never buy myself. However, I also never actually give anyone The List!)

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I always thought it would be so fun to open up my fridge and not only see it clean and organized, but also cute with stripes and patterns on the shelves. Alas, I couldn’t ever convince myself to spend $25 on a set of fridge liners.

Recently, I saw an idea to create your own fridge mats our of place mats you can buy at Target. I was so excited to get this project started that I made a special trip to Target on the rainiest day in the history of spring to get some place mats. The place mats are only $2 each and come in several patterns.

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You simply have to trim the sides to make them fit your fridge. (I just cut mine with scissors to fit.) When you are done, your refrigerator becomes a happy place with colorful shelves. And the best part is that it makes it easier to keep clean. Instead of pulling out the shelves to wash down the inside of the fridge, you just have to take out the mats and wipe them clean.

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So there you have it. Fridge mats! Oh, and next time you’re over, make sure you look in my fridge!

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Monthly meal plan

Monthly meal plan

I’m one of those people who loves to set goals. So, every Jan. 1, I sit down and write out my goals for the year. A few weeks later, like most people, I have already started going back to my old habits and losing track of whatever goals I set.

This year, I decided to do things differently. I realized I needed to set shorter goals and celebrate more once I had achieved them. There were several areas where I already failed in January, but I am taking a look at what went wrong and pressing the restart button for February. However, there was one area in which I had a big success: meal planning!

I’ve always been an off-and-on meal planner, and I’ve written about many of my meal planning attempts here on this blog. This time, I decided I would plan out all of my meals for an entire month. I printed them out on a piece of card stock and taped them on a cabinet next to the stove. For me, making my plan look CUTE helps me with whatever I’m trying to accomplish!

I actually stuck to this meal plan almost 100 percent. There were a few times when we had to be out for dinner and ate at a restaurant, or we were invited to someone’s house for dinner. But I think we ate about 27 of the 30 meals I had planned!

Here are the reasons this really worked for us:

My husband and kids could see the meal plan each day. For my kids, they actually started looking forward to some of the meals that were coming up. They stopped asking, “What’s for dinner?” and just looked at the chart. If I wasn’t home, my husband could look at the chart, and he knew what to make for dinner. If he wasn’t sure how to make that day’s meal (my descriptions aren’t always the best), he could skip ahead one or two days and make something else on the plan.

I saved money on grocery shopping. With my monthly meal plan, I was able to go to the store at the beginning of the month and stock up on most of the meat and staples I would need for the entire month. I still had to go back to the store every week for milk, bread and produce, but I spent less at the grocery store because of my plan.

I’m hoping this will cut down on planning time in the future. Now that I have January planned out, I should be able to repeat some of those recipes in future months.

I did make a few mistakes. I jotted down meals as they came to my mind, without realizing that sometimes I was planning very similar meals two or three days in a row. I have three growing tweens/teens (plus a more picky preschooler), and quite honestly, they are so hungry that they didn’t seem to mind! I tried to do a better job in February though.

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Click here to download a blank meal plan.

This month, I created categories for each day of the week. We often eat breakfast for dinner on Sunday because we don’t feel like cooking. Monday is Mexican. Tuesday is slow cooker. Wednesday is chicken. Thursday is Italian. Friday is all-American. and Saturday is Easy. I also spent a lot of time looking for new recipes. I printed them all out and put them in my Big Organizational Binder. I also created a Pinterest board for meal planning with all of this month’s recipes to help me in the future.

I also created a new shopping list on my computer. This allowed me to go through each recipe and fill in the ingredients that I need. I take a photo of my meal plan and my shopping list with my phone. This makes it really easy for me to go back to the store in the middle of the month to pick up fresh ingredients.

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Click here to download a blank shopping list.

Right now, our life is extraordinarily jam packed. Our four kids are involved in school basketball, travel basketball, travel baseball, gymnastics team, gymnastics class for the preschooler, an after-school cooking club and youth group. My husband is an elder at our church, and I work part-time for our church. Plus, I’m spending a lot of volunteer hours helping out with the school talent show, and I’m also a room mom.

We often have one, two, three or even four activities happening in the evenings. So meal planning is HUGE for my sanity! We don’t always eat at the same time, but everyone has access to a meal before or after activities.

I love lists and charts so I also created some organizational tools that I use for chores and other goals. I know this doesn’t work for a lot of people, but having a cute chart telling me what to do each day makes a HUGE difference for me. A few people asked me on Facebook if they could have a copy, so here are those as well.

This is my weekly cleaning chart. I found that this is difficult to stay on top of every day, so I’m working on revising it for February:

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Download a weekly cleaning schedule.

This is the chore chart for my kids. We have a separate chart that lets us know whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

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Download a child’s chore chart.

On my dishwasher chart, my kids’ names are written next to the circles. This hangs above our dishwasher, so there are no arguments about whose turn it is.

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Download a dishwasher chart.

This is my reading list. It’s been my goal to read 12 books a year, and I am pretty good at accomplishing that! I take a photo of the list and keep it on my phone so I can remember what I’m looking for when I go to the library.

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Download a blank reading list.

If you download any of my organizational tools, will you leave me a note in the comments section? I would love to know if you are going to try to use any of these. I also would love to hear how you stay organized. Do you meal plan? Do you have daily chores for yourself? Thanks!!

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One of my favorite organization projects

One of my favorite organization projects

I always love getting a “toy” on Christmas morning, and this year I got just about the greatest toy a crafty mom could ask for! A few people have asked me to explain this thing of wonder, known as the Silhouette, so I thought I would write a few blog posts about what I’ve been doing with my new electronic pet.

If you aren’t into being crafty or organization or labeling things, then you might not have heard about the wonders of the Silhouette. Personally, I didn’t even know it had been invented a year ago. But the more I heard about it, the more I wanted one. And when I saw a big Black Friday deal on a Silhouette, I asked my husband if it could be my Christmas gift.

The Silhouette is a die-cutting machine that connects to your computer like a printer. It perfectly and precisely cuts anything you design, and it works with lots of materials. I’ve mainly been using mine so far with adhesive vinyl, but it also can cut out iron-on transfers, chip board, cardstock and pretty much anything you can think of.

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One of my first projects for the Silhouette was to add labels to one of my favorite organization projects in this house. I’m sure you’ve all heard the news that leaving your toothbrushes on the counter isn’t such a great idea. Supposedly, each time you flush the toilet, it sends particles into the air that get on your tooth brush. (I actually heard a news story recently that this ISN’T true, but the mere possibility has been haunting me for a while now!)

I have tried to come up with a good method of storing our toothbrushes somewhere other than on the bathroom counter. I put them in cups inside the cabinet, but they would tip over. I tried putting them in a closet, but no one could ever find them and they would end up lying next to the sink.

One day I was at IKEA and I discovered the PLUGGIS storage system. I wasn’t sure how I would attach them to a wall or cabinet, but I brought them home knowing CapableDad could figure it out. Sure enough. He was able to saw the end off a screw so it would attach to the inside of the cabinet door without going all the way through the door.

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Now, I have a great way to store our toothbrushes and toothpaste inside the door. I used the other containers on the other door to store my facial cleansers and other small items like band-aids and pony tail holders. This has been a small project, but it makes me hugely happy because now I am able to have a clutter-free counter!

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Creating labels for my storage containers was one of my first projects with my Silhouette. It was as simple as writing the words in a font I like (Honey Script) and then printing them out on adhesive vinyl. Peel and stick, and my project is complete! (You can see that I still have my round labels on the drawers inside the cabinet. I’m sure I’ll be changing those out soon!)

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I have lots of other die-cut projects I’ve been working on that I hope to write about on my blog. But I’m wondering… any other Silhouette users out there? I would love to hear about your favorite projects!

 

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The clean room challenge begins

The clean room challenge begins

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Our 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter are convinced they are the only children in the suburbs of Chicago who do not have their own iPods. I know I should probably feel like a horrible mother for subjecting them to such a terrible first world problem.

But despite their begging and pleading, we have told them they have to wait until they are 13 to get a phone or iPod. The ironic part is that our oldest son is one week away from his 13th birthday and he doesn’t even want an iPod or a phone. Not the younger two.

They are counting down the days until they officially become teenagers and dreaming of what wonderful technological advancements might be made before their 13th birthdays. They also scheme and plot and manipulate to try to find a loophole in the iPod rule.

So a few days ago, after being asked for the 425th time about how they might be able to get an iPod early, one of them hit me in my weakest spot. “What if I kept my room clean every day for the rest of the year?”

I feel like I have tried every system and strategy in the book for getting them to keep their rooms clean. Another irony is that the oldest one… the kid who will be 13 in one week… the one who doesn’t WANT an iPod, keeps his room perfectly clean every single day without ever being asked. Not the middle two.

Their rooms are always disaster areas. Even when they do get them clean, the organization only lasts about 24 hours before it’s a mess again.

When my daughter made this proposal, it was if she had said, “What if I sent you to Hawaii for two weeks?”

I thought about it for a while and then decided that #1, the chances of them keeping their rooms completely clean for the next two months is very slim. And #2, if they could do it, I actually think it would be worth an iPod!

So, I made some conditions for the challenge. First, the iPod would be their one and only Christmas gift. Second, they would have to meet my standard of what a clean room would look like.

I have spent the past week getting their rooms to “Ground Zero” level. I wanted to set them up for success. The more I have thought about this, the more I really do want them to succeed! I mean imagine how terrible they will feel on Christmas morning if one makes it and the other one does not.

Plus, just the thought of seeing their rooms clean every single day makes me incredibly happy!

I did a major overhaul of their rooms a couple of years ago (here and here), but things have slowly starting falling into disarray. This week, I have been labeling and sorting to get all of their stuff to a place it was easy to put away.

Here are a few of my organization projects:

In my son’s room, I basically just needed to add some labels to his bins and the boxes at the top of his closet. We purged some of his clothing and organized what was left in the closet.

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My daughter’s room was more of a challenge. She shares her room with her 3-year-old sister, so they have possessions ranging from baby dolls to fashion accessories. I labeled all of their toy and clothing storage earlier this year, and that has been working well when they do pick up their room.

 

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But the closet still needed major work. One of the biggest problems was the huge bin of costumes and ballet outfits at the top of the closet. We organized the contents, folding each costume neatly and placing it in a large ziplock bag. Then we divided them into two boxes at the top of the closet. The third box holds craft projects.

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I also bought them a storage unit for their shoes and added some bins for scarves, bags and sweaters.

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And of course, I made them both a checklist. You know how I LOVE a checklist! It lists every single thing they need to do each day, plus some weekly cleaning chores, like vacuuming, dusting and taking out the garbage.

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The clean room challenge begins tomorrow. They have to keep their rooms in tip-top shape for eight weeks! Do you think they can do it?

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So tell me… How do your kids handle keeping their rooms clean? Do you have any systems that work? Or is it a constant struggle?

 

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Sorting through my laundry issues

Sorting through my laundry issues

During the past six years of this blog, I have written many posts about my greatest foe in this house.

No matter how hard I have tried, I’ve never been able to keep up with my enemy’s super stellar powers. She churns out messy piles faster than I can clean them. She is spread all over the house. She waits. She topples. She stinks.

It’s as if she lives and breathes, growing larger and taller each day.

I’m sure you know her: The laundry.

Well, I’ve got big news about the laundry. Despite the risk of being awarded the prize for “Most Mundane Mothering Blog,” it’s time for me to announce a major change in our relationship. I probably shouldn’t even say this out loud.

I kind of.

like.

the laundry.

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WHAT?!?!

It’s so weird I can barely believe it myself. And I don’t know how long it will last. So I better blog about it while it’s still a reality.

You might remember that my laundry room and office are in one room in our house. Last spring, when I decided to become an organized person and rid myself of the clutter in my life, I did a major overhaul of that room. I so wish I had taken a before shot. It was so embarrassing at the time that I couldn’t bring myself to shoot a photo.

This at least will show you the walls and all of the cleaning supplies, but this photo was taken AFTER I removed tons of junk and about 23 piles of dirty clothes from the room.

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Now my laundry room is a much happier place. Even when it is piled full of laundry, I still love going in that room. In fact, because my office is in the other half of the room, it’s where I spend most of my time.

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The mere fact that I like going IN the room has become a huge help in staying on top of the laundry.

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I recently made another improvement that is so geeky I can’t even believe I’m going to blog about it. But here I go. With six people in our family, we create a ton of dirty laundry on a weekly basis. I have no choice but to buy detergent and fabric softener in the largest containers possible.

But I find that those uber large laundry containers drip all over the place. I had been pouring the detergent into smaller containers left over from other uses. I finally decided it was time to make my detergent pretty. So I found these two carafes for about $3 each at Target.

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I pour my big box of OxyClean in the glass jar that once held candy. The little bowl is for my “laundry money” — all of the changes and other treasures that I find in the dryer.

Here’s my detergent before and after:

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Ahhh… don’t they look happy?

I’ve also made a couple of other changes that help with the folding and putting away part of laundry. We all know that’s where the REAL fun begins, right?

I love organizing our closets into ROY G BIV order. Shockingly, I’ve managed to keep our clothes this way all year, since I first did it back in January! Now I kind of enjoy opening the closet and seeing all of the clothes hanging in order by color.

I also started watching BONES on Netflix. How does watching a crime show possibly help with the laundry? Well, by doing two loads of laundry per day, I usually have six loads of laundry to fold in just a few days. One episode of BONES is 45 minutes, which is the perfect length of time to work my way through all of that folding. I now look forward to an excuse to lock myself in my room with piles of clean clothes. I sort, fold and hang while BONES is busy cleaning bones and solving crime. It’s a great relationship.

Well, I could probably talk about the laundry all day (as you can tell), but I have a few loads waiting.

While I’m washing and drying, will you reveal your dirty laundry? I would love to know if anyone else struggles with laundry like I do? Do you have any secrets for staying on top of the laundry piles? Don’t be shy. It’s OK to come clean. 🙂

 

 

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My wishy Washi weekend

My wishy Washi weekend

I’m not sure what it is about me and tape. Remember a few years ago when I went crazy over duct tape? For about a week, I stopped cleaning my home and feeding my family because I was so busy making duct tape handbags.

Well, I had a similar obsession over the weekend with another kind of tape — Washi tape.

When I mention Washi tape, most people ask me what it is. I didn’t know it existed until earlier this year when I started my quest to organize my entire house. I read about Washi tape here, and I immediately knew I needed some! I used the cute colorful tape to organize our paper piles and label containers for our crafting supplies.

Since then, my collection of Washi tape has led a very boring life. I created a cute little container to store it, but it’s just been hanging around with no where to stick. Until last week.

I went to wrap a birthday present and realized I had run out of tape. I remembered my Washi tape (or decorative paper tape, as it’s called at Target) and found a cute pattern to coordinate with my wrapping paper. That’s when the “”Washi” section of my brain finally went into rapid fire. Where previously I could barely think of one use for Washi tape, suddenly, I couldn’t STOP thinking about ways I could use that patterned paper tape. The crafty part of my brain was stuck on Washi tape!

I made a quick run to Hobby Lobby and Target to pick up a few cheap supplies. I bought a small pad of cute patterned paper, some bins from the $1 aisle at Target, some “chalkboard” cardstock labels, and some composition notebooks that were 94 cents. I came home and started taping. Here are a few of my super simple and fun Washi tape projects from the weekend:

I’ve been needing some little baskets or bins where I can throw miscellaneous objects that I pick up around the house until my kids can put them away. I found these cute bins at Target in three of my kids’ “colors.” (My oldest son seriously doesn’t leave things lying around so I really didn’t need a bin for him.) I added a circle label that I printed out on my computer, some Washi tape and boom! That project took about two minutes.

My next project was to create some labels for some areas I had already organized for summer. A few weeks ago, I created this storage system in our garage so the kids could put away our larger than life collection of balls, sidewalk chalk and other outdoor toys. (My original circle labels weren’t sticking, so I needed to replace them.)

I simply printed out more circle labels, attached them to the cute card stock and then added the Washi tape to attach the labels or to add a border to the chalkboard labels.

We have been going to the pool multiple times per week, and it always felt like we were frantically searching for our sunscreen and sunglasses right when it was time to go. So I also had created some storage baskets so we could easily find all of our pool supplies. The baskets still needed some cute labels. Washi tape to the rescue!

I used the Washi tape, cardstock and more labels to make the simplest EVER “thank you” cards…

and to cover my boring composition notebook…

And finally… I decorated an old jar from some spaghetti sauce to create a storage space for… you guessed it!… more tape!! My daughter is a craft-a-holic, just like her mama. She goes through craft projects a mile a minute, so I gave her her own supply of super cute tape. We just needed a place to store her 24 tiny rolls of tape! The jar was the perfect size. It just needed a little bit of taped-0n cuteness.

So, what do you think about Washi tape? Have you ever used it? Does anyone else have a strange urge to create crafts with colorful tape? Please tell me I’m not alone!

 

 

 

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