It’s a Wrap

It’s the homstretch of the year but before you cross the 2016 finish line you first have to get through the frenetic holiday season that’s here.

While you’re running around making lists, checking them twice, putting in multiple online orders and receiving multiple packages on a daily basis don’t forget that all of those items that are gifts for others need to be wrapped and delivered and/or put under a tree before you know it.

Don’t wait until the last minute when you’re swimming in packages, paper and tangled up ribbons to start gift wrapping everything.  Get a handle on the supplies you need now so you can make the act of wrapping everything up a calmer more enjoyable experience.

Here are a few Gift Wrapping 101 suggestions to help you get all of your essentials organized and in one place.  I’m being realistic and assuming your home does not have a dedicated Martha Stewart craft and gift wrapping room.

  1. Gift Wrap Station on the back of a Door.  This genius solution uses the Elfa storage system from the Container Store and can accommodate all gift wrapping items – ribbons, tissue paper, bags, and paper with assorted sized wire baskets.img_4287

2.  Store all wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes and tissue paper in a dedicated basket and keep ribbons and gift tags together in a small plastic container.

3.  You can use a shoe bag hung on a wall or inside of a closet door to corral wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift tags and ribbons.  For the wrapping paper, cut out the bottoms of the shoe sections so they can accommodate the length of the rolls.

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Photo courtesy of organizationjunkie.com

Don’t assume the elves are going to come while you’re sleeping and do all of the work for you.  However you decide to get your supplies in order it’s best to think about it now so you can make sure you have everything you need before the 11th hour.

Cheers and happy wrapping!!

 

 

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What’s in Your (Shoe) Bag?

Shoe bags aren’t just for shoes.  They’re one of the best kept secrets behind the doors of many organized homes.  Think about these clever and space saving tips the next time you organize a cluttered area of your house.  Use clear mesh or PVC shoe bags so you can always see what’s inside.  Depending on the thickness of the door or wall you’re using, the bag can be attached either over the door with hooks or with stick on hooks like those from the brand 3M.

In a playroom, shoe bags can be used to organize craft supplies, Barbie dolls, legos and a number of other toys with little pieces that always need sorting.

They can also be hung on the inside of a linen or storage closet to keep all of your cleaning supplies in one place while not taking up necessary shelf space and in a pantry closet for all of the snack, condiment and cooking supply overflow.

In a bedroom they can be used inside a closet for socks, underwear, sport gear and other miscellaneous overflow.  My son is the king of stuff and this system seems to be working great for him.

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The possibilities are endless….all you need is a bag, a wall or a closet and a creative sorting mind so you can reorganize all of your stuff into one central location.

Meet the Masons

Did you know that Mason has been in the top 10 names of newborn boys for the past three years in the U.S., according to babynames.com?  The name is originally French in origin and means to lay either stone or brick.

Besides the name Mason being very popular, the object, The Mason Jar is one of the most used and understated items in peoples’ homes.  If you haven’t been paying attention to it you’d be amazed at all the functions this glass jar can have.  It is one of the most beloved items in my home not only because it’s so practical but it is incredibly versatile, inexpensive and timeless.  Instead of tossing all of them in for recycling, save a few the next time you come across them and use them to get creative.

Here are a few of my favorites ideas:

A mason jar can easily be transformed into a more attractive container for salt.

A super easy salad dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices and a splash of maple syrup.  Put all ingredients in a small mason jar according to your taste preferences, shake well and enjoy:

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Ever have overnight oats for breakfast?  It’s such a healthy, easy meal if you can muster up the 10 minutes to put it together the night before.  Here’s a great beginner overnight oat recipe from http://glutenfreewithlb.com/maple-brown-sugar-cinnamon-overnight-oats/:

Maple, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Overnight Oats (makes 2 servings):

Ingredients

  • 2 c. rolled oats, gluten-free
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. almond milk
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • ¾ t. cinnamon
  • 3 T. pure maple syrup
  1. In two 10-12 oz. mason jars place half of the oats, vanilla and milk in each. Stir to mix well.
  2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup. Pour half of this mixture in each of the jars over the oats.
  3. Refrigerate jars for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Serve with additional toppings if desired and enjoy!img_1263

These are a couple of my favorite go to hostess gifts when I’m invited to someone’s home for an occasion:

Curried Lentil Soup:

Mason Jar Cookies:

1 1/3 Cup Flour

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

1 cup quick cooking oats

1 ¼ cup chocolate chips

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

 

Mix with 1 egg, ½ cup of softened butter and ½ teaspoon of vanilla.

Scoop into 1 inch balls

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

Enjoy!

The list of things you can do with mason jars in endless.  Find a few ideas and put them into your creation rotation.

Where do I put my stuff?

So many people are disorganized and think they don’t have ample storage space but the truth is they just don’t know how to use their storage spaces efficiently.

Often it’s heavily trafficked areas that are housing items that are rarely used.  I’ve seen an entire kitchen cabinet filled with never used serving pieces and/or small kitchen appliances that only get used a couple of times a year at most.  This takes away space for items that you need to access on a regular basis.

If you’re fortunate enough to have both attic and basement storage I find the best way to think about where to put your stuff is to focus on the attic for rarely used items and basement for seasonal and rotating things.

In the attic:

Memorabilia like old photos, books and albums (photo, record, etc)

Kids’ school work and art projects that you’re not ready to part with

Old toys and other kid gear that you’re not ready to say goodbye to

House hardware and supplies like extra paint, rarely to never used appliance parts, extra flooring and/or tiles

In the basement:

Excess bulk items (like dry goods and/or paper products)

Rarely used kitchen items like serving trays, small appliances, and seasonal glasses, cups and dishes

Extra cleaning supplies

Folding table and chairs

Attic or Basement:

Holiday items like Christmas, Halloween decorations

Seasonal sports gear like skis, ice skates, pool gear,

Wherever you chose to store your items it’s best to keep things in clear plastic bins that are labeled so you can access things easily when

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you need them.  If something isn’t used don’t feel bad about getting rid of it.  Think about where you can donate it or be OK with just saying goodbye.  It will feel so good to have your spaces organized more efficiently and be able to find and use your possessions.

Back to What!?

How many ice cream cones have you eaten all summer?  Is that the extent of the math lessons in your house this summer?

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down and it’s time to start gearing up for back to school.  As parents it’s important that we wrap our heads around the concept first and come up with a game plan for getting everyone else in the house on board with the looming and inevitable transition.  There are a few things you can do to gear up subtly while still enjoying the waning days of summer.

Sleeping and eating healthy are crucial to a good start to the school year for both you and your kids.  Over the next couple of weeks start adjusting your body to earlier bedtimes and waking times by going to sleep and waking up at the same time consistently.  Re-establish a bedtime routine that includes a shower/bath, winding down time, reading and a calm sleep environment.  Keep electronic devices out of bedrooms at night.  If possible, adhere to the same routine on weekends; it will make sticking to it a little easier.

During the next few weeks, make sure your kids are getting outside, drinking plenty of fluids and are eating a healthy, well balanced diet which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Encourage them to sit down, slow down and savor their food whether it’s a full meal or a snack and discourage endless grazing.  Start pulling together ideas for fast and healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  Smoothies, eggs, yogurt, cheese and fruit are great options. Getting your kids involved in the process of finding recipes, food shopping and cooking will get them a little more excited about healthy menu planning and eating.

Re-establish an organized drop off area in your home for backpacks, shoes and jackets if you’ve forgotten about it.  The space should be set up before school starts so kids know where everything is in the morning and they know where to put there things when they get home.  A designated hook, basket and cubby for each family member is ideal.

Be consistent in any and all of your efforts to get back to a routine and be positive about the upcoming year.  And in the meantime there are still a few fire flies to catch and s’mores to be made.

 

Footloose and Stinky Free

Ahhh….summer.  Tank tops, shorts, flip flops and bare feet.  If only we could come home at the end of the day and smell like the ocean or a tropical breeze.IMG_3427

In reality, when your hot summer days are done and your shoes come off the stank that radiates from your feet and shoes is often unbearable.  Not only is it intolerable but if you don’t do something about it the situation will linger and get worse.

You need to be proactive about the stink so that it goes away for good…..or is at least tolerable.

Try one, some or all of these remedies and get your feet, shoes and house back to smelling like roses and not like a frat house especially during the dog days of summer.

Try your best to make sure feet are clean and dry before putting on shoes.  As obvious as it sounds, dirty damp feet breed bacteria and it’s the bacteria that makes your feet stinky.  If you’re wearing shoes with socks, make sure to wear cotton socks and leather or cotton shoes.  Synthetic materials will make feet extra smelly because your feet can’t breathe in them.  If possible, try to let your shoes air out for 24 hours before wearing them for a full day again.

While your shoes are airing out, wipe the inside soles down thoroughly with alcohol to kill the bacterial that is lingering inside your shoes.  In addition, you can slip half of a dryer sheet inside your shoes to absorb the odor.  You can even line the insides of your shoes with a dryer sheet while you’re wearing them.  The sheet will absorb odors before they even arise.

Lightly powder your feet and shoes before putting them on everyday.  The powder will absorb any wetness that is lingering in your shoes or on your feet which can breed smelly bacteria.

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This sounds a little crazy but it does work…..how about some kitty litter?!  At the end of the day, line shoes with clean kitty litter and leave overnight (just make sure your cat isn’t around to do her business in your shoes because that smell will really be terrible).  The litter will absorb the odor in your shoes and dry out any wetness and lingering bacteria.  Throw out the litter in the morning and you’re good to go.

If all else fails and you can’t get the stink out of your shoes, it may be time to get the shoes out of your house and invest in a new pair.

 

 

Kid Explosion

Why is it when you’re family expands the rules of basic math don’t apply?

1+1=2, 2+1=3, 2+2=Explosion!!!  Am I right?

Little babies = BIG stuff .  Toddlers, bigger kids plus little babies = chaos.

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The trick is to do your best to prepare for the explosion of your new arrival before it occurs.

Whether your family is expanding because you’re expecting or adopting it is not something that happens overnight.  The truth is, even though you may be exhausted you do have some time to prepare before they arrive at home.

Make the time to sort and purge in the month leading up to your due date.  If you have older children and saved their clothes, before the baby comes you should organize everything into categories of same sizes.  Purchase clear plastic bins and label them (0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months, etc.).  If the seasons are out of sync, consider donating old clothes in good condition to local consignment, thrift stores or charities.  If you think you’re really going to reuse, have items cleaned and accessible so you can get to them when the baby is ready.  There’s no use in saving newborn clothes that you can’t find because those first three months are going to be gone before you know it!  There’s also no use in having a newborn sized snow suit if your baby is born in the spring or summer.

If you’ve saved and intend to use diapers from your previous children, you should do the same thing.  Sort diapers into like sizes and have them accessible as you need them.  The newborn diapers aren’t going to do any good once your baby hits 3-6 months.  As soon as you no longer need them you should either pack them away for the next go round or donate them to get them out of your space before you forget about them.

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Spend a chunk of time reorganizing your kitchen.  You are going to need things to be organized and accessible from the get go and you’ll be spending a lot of time washing and grabbing newborn items.  Drawers and cabinets will need to be unloaded and reorganized and baby supplies will need to be washed and ready to be put to work.  For your own sanity, put like things together and close to the sink.  It’s OK to pack up the champagne and margarita glasses to make room for bottles, pacifiers and formula.

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Photo from Pinterest  

It may also be helpful to look at storage areas and items in your home with your adjusted routine in mind.  An IKEA cart can be a great tool for transporting all of your baby gear from room to room.  It will save you multiple trips around your house if you have all your supplies in one place.  (Stocked IKEA cart image from Buzzfeed, “25 Booze-free ways to use a bar cart”).

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Try to do as much as you can before hand because once you’re in the thick of new parenthood spaghetti brain and exhaustion will definitely take over.  A year from now you won’t want to be asking yourself why you have 500+ newborn diapers that you didn’t need.