Going “KonMari” on my Daughter’s Bureau

Our daughter’s bureau was a train wreck and I just couldn’t take it anymore. She’s been very much into picking out her own clothes lately and tends to dig around in her drawers until she finds what she wants, without putting anything back the way it was. Today I finally decided to tackle the disaster and emptied her bureau, folded everything in the “KonMari” style, and put it back with order.

 BEFORE

BEFORE

What’s the KonMari style? Well, technically the first step is to only keep what you truly love or use, and purge the rest (I pulled out a few items that she was starting to outgrow, but most of her clothes stayed). Then you fold everything uniformly so it can stand up in the drawers and be “filed,” allowing you to see everything at once. This is a great way to fold your clothes as you can see everything all at once and keeps you from falling into the rut of constantly wearing just what’s on top.

 AFTER

AFTER

As you can see I came up with a basic system for the drawer too - I grouped all her t-shirts together, then long-sleeve shirts, then sweatshirts and tank tops. (This folding technique also seems to be a lot more efficient as there’s even some empty space now!) I also tackled her other drawers too and tidied up her jeans, pants, and PJs. Overall I think it looks great and should help make getting ready for school in the morning a breeze.

How I organized it:

Going "KonMari" on my Daughter's Bureau:  AFTER

I already had my own drawers folded in the KonMari style and love it - it’s so nice being able to see all your options at once when you’re getting dressed in the morning. As for our daughter, I explained the new setup to her and she understands it (she was honestly really excited about her neat drawers when I first showed them to her) - but the reality is she’s five years old and there’s no way it’s going to stay this organized on it’s own. I also don’t think it’s worth nagging her over it to keep it this way, it’s really not a fair expectation for a five year old. So, we’ll see how long this lasts… I’ll do my best to tidy it up when I can and try to keep some semblance of order but it won’t always be picture-perfect and that’s okay. That’s life ;)

One Week Update: She actually kept the system perfectly! Just a few things had fallen over and one item was crumpled up and put back, but 95% of it was still perfect. I’m super impressed that an almost 5-year-old can keep the system that neat. But it goes to show, that if she can do it - so can you!

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How "Clean Kitchen at Night" Changed my Life

Okay, okay - so saying a hashtag "changed my life" is a bit dramatic, but let me explain...

As a Mom, you spend your entire day cleaning up after others... toys, food, diapers, everything - and at the end of the day the last thing you want to do is clean up more. Before kids I used to be good about keeping an empty sink and clean counters, but these days once the kids were in bed I just wanted to be done and the kitchen was left in disarray almost every night. However after seeing An Organized Life's Instagram hashtag #cleankitchenatnight, I was inspired and had to try it!
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How Clean Kitchen at Night Changed my Life

The whole point of "clean kitchen at night" is that it's a great motivator.  Having a clean kitchen and clean slate to wake up to in the morning helps set a less-stressful and more motivated tone for the rest of your day, in all aspects of your life. It's so refreshing to see clean counters and an empty sink.  Making meals throughout the day is so much easier too when all of the dishes, pans, and silverware are ready to go!  I don't know how many times before I would go to make a meal, only to realize a specific pan, measuring cup, or casserole dish I needed was still dirty from the day before. Now meal prep is so much easier and quicker, simply because everything is already clean.

How Clean Kitchen at Night Changed my Life
How Clean Kitchen at Night Changed my Life

Now, we don’t have an “Instagram-worthy” kitchen… it still has the honey-colored maple cabinets and green (yes, green) builder-grade laminate counters. But trust me in that you don’t need a picture-perfect kitchen to feel the sense of accomplishment and motivation in leaving everything in a clean and organized state each and every night.

As cheesy as it sounds, having a clean kitchen really does reduce stress and brings some peace to normally chaotic mornings. And I’ve found this motivation snowballs into all other areas of my life too - I feel so much more productive in work and efficient in accomplishing my to-do list every day. There's a saying that goes something like "cluttered house, cluttered mind" - and it's true... if you surround yourself with messes and clutter you feel it. If you have a sense of control over your house, even if it's just the kitchen, it makes you feel like you have life together (even if you don't, haha).

Don’t believe me that “Clean Kitchen at Night” really makes a difference?

I challenge you to give it a try! For the next week, I challenge you to make a point to clear out the sink, clean the clutter off the countertops, and wipe down your whole kitchen every night. It can be hard work at first, but once you get in the rhythm it goes quick - especially when you’re only picking up that day’s mess and not messes from previous days too. Try it for a week and let me know if you feel less stressed and more motivated across all aspects of your life - I hope you do!

#cleankitchenatnight #resetyourspace #progressnotperfection

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Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School

Sending the kids back to school usually means shelling out a lot of money on school supplies, clothes, and more.  Here are some of my tips on how NOT to go broke this fall.  | This post contains affiliate links | 

Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School

Invest in a Good, Basic Backpack and Lunchbox

Question:  How many parents buy their kids new backpacks and lunchboxes every single year? 
Answer:  Wayyyy too many! 

There's really no reason to shell out money that often on items that can can stand the test of time if you pick them right. I highly suggest NOT picking a character or crazy pattern backpack or lunchbox. Kids' tastes change from year to year (and sometimes week to week), and if you pick themed or cheaply made items they will not last. Our general guideline is upgrading backpacks once every "big transition" in school - so one backpack to last kindergarten through elementary school, a new one to last through middle school, and then finally a new one for high school. We love solid-color backpacks from high-quality companies like LL Bean - you just know they're going to last and never go out of style. (Pro-tip: check out the Outlets to get great, name-brand backpacks for less!)

Consignment Shop for Back-to-School Clothes

If you've been following the blog for any amount of time now, you know I'm a big fan of consignment selling and shopping.  It's a great way to get rid of any clothes or shoes your kids might have outgrown or refuse to wear and make some money back to use on gently used, name-brand "new" items.  That way you're essentially "trading up" for new clothes, and spend a lot less out of pocket. 
{You can read more on my Consignment Selling and Shopping Tips HERE}

Quality backpack and clothes from a consignment shop stretch your back to school budget farther!

Buy Snacks in Bulk and/or Store Brand

If you pack your child's snacks and lunches the cost can definitely can add up over time.  One way to save is to buy in bulk whenever possible.  If you can buy prepackaged snacks in larger quantities the price-per-item is a lot lower.  Buying store brand items over name brand is another great way to save.  

Reusable Water Bottle

Juice boxes are expensive (and arguably unhealthy), so having your child take a reusable water bottle to school saves a lot of money and also helps keep their sugar intake in-check.

Reuse Last Year's School Supplies

Money Saving Tips for Back to School

A lot of times the school supply list will include things like a set of binders, markers, glue, a pencil case, etc.  Many times there's no reason to repurchase these things - they can often be reused from year-to-year.  Empty out the old papers from last years binders and reuse those.  And the makers, crayons, glue sticks, etc?  They likely have plenty of life left - no need to buy more just yet!  

Coupon and Rebate Apps

And of course, a great way to save if you need to buy items is to use coupons or rebates whenever you can. We really love Coupons.com for printing coupons and the rebate app Ibotta for earning money back on purchases. At the beginning of the school year, coupons and rebates on back-to-school items are usually plentiful, but make sure to only buy what you really need!

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DIY Slate Garden Markers

I've been eyeing slate garden markers for our herb garden for awhile now, but buying pre-made ones are soooo expensive and they never have all the varieties I want.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own.  Because I have the world's worst handwriting (it's true, ask anyone) I used a Cricut to cut the text for me, but if you have half-decent handwriting you could easily do this project with a paint marker too.  | This post contains affiliate links |

DIY Slate Garden Markers

Materials:  

How To:  

1.  If using your Cricut to make the text, measure your garden markers and make each "label" in Design Space the appropriate size.  I chose a font with a handwritten feel, but you can use whatever font you prefer.  You may need to play around with the scale of the lettering to get it to fit.  Use 651 Permanent Vinyl to cut your text.  

Making the labels in Design Space for Cricut

2.  "Weed out" your text, removing any pieces of vinyl you don't want to be in your final design.  I find a dental explorer to be super useful here to get rid of the pieces inside of letters, but it's not necessary.  The finer-point text was definitely a lot harder to weed (which is why you'll notice the dot on the "i" in garlic chives isn't in the right place).  

DIY Slate Garden Markers in progress

3.  Next use contact paper or transfer tape to put over your final vinyl design and rub well to make sure it's on there good.  This will "carry" the vinyl once the backing is removed.  

DIY Slate Garden Markers in progress

4.  Carefully peel the backing off your design.. this can be tricky.  My advice is to go slowly and have your dental explorer handy if you have one!  It can help hold letters down as you peel off the back.  

5.  Once the backing is removed, carefully place on a clean and dry slate marker.  Rub the design on well (I use an old gift card like a squeegee).  Once it's on there good, carefully peel off the contact paper.  
Alternatively:  If you don't have a Cricut or want to do this project by hand, you can skip steps 1-5 and just write your text freehand with a white paint marker and allow to dry.  

DIY Slate Garden Markers in progress

6.  To make sure the vinyl doesn't peel or come loose, I use a spray acrylic sealer to seal them.  Just put the markers on a scrap piece of cardboard, give a light coating of the spray sealer, and allow to dry (make sure you're in a well-ventilated area). 
If you used a paint marker instead I would also suggest sealing them.  

DIY Slate Garden Markers in progress
DIY Slate Garden Markers

7.  Hang your new garden markers!  You can buy special hangers for them if you like, or use sticks and some twine or wire.  In my case I wanted them on the barrels in our herb garden so I simply used some thin copper wire and "flossed" it through the slots in the barrel, tying it off with a large washer at the back so they don't pull through.  

It has been SOOO abnormally hot in New England these past few weeks that my herb garden isn't looking too wonderful at the moment (hence the limited "after" pictures).  We have six wine barrel planters on a small patio; four of the planters have perennial herbs (chives, garlic chives, sage, and peppermint) that come back each year and the other two planters I switch up each summer.  Currently my poor plants are a bit sun-stressed and I'm far behind on weeding, but I hope you'll get the idea of the final install below.  I think it really helps finish the space and I love that things are finally labeled.  

DIY Slate Garden Markers
DIY Slate Garden Markers
DIY Slate Garden Markers

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Shop my Amazon Favorite Finds with Ease!

Amazon Influencers now have categories which makes browsing my Favorite Finds so much easier!  Check out my lists and let me know if you have any questions on the products - I have different lists for Home, Kitchen Favorites, DIY Supplies + Tools, Fashion + Beauty, Outdoors, and Baby + Kid Items. 
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Easy DIY Bed Risers

In our master bedroom our bed sits on a standard metal bed frame.  Not only were the legs still visible under the bedskirt, but the bed was about an inch too low to fit underbed storage containers!  Not being able to store much under the bed was a huge inconvenience and after tripping over these containers in our walk-in closet for far too long I decided to make my own bed risers and fix the issue once and for all. 
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Easy DIY Bed Risers

Now this isn't exactly a glamorous or high-end project, but I think you'll agree that the Before and Afters speak for themselves - it's a huge improvement over what was there and helps fit more under the bed for critical storage.  

 The wrinkly, too-short bedskirt shows the ugly metal legs and the limited storage underneath.  

The wrinkly, too-short bedskirt shows the ugly metal legs and the limited storage underneath.  

Materials:  

  • ruler
  • chop saw or handsaw
  • 2x4 lumber
  • 1x5 lumber (or whatever size wood will cover the legs of your bed + the thickness of the 2x4)
  • woodglue
  • screws
  • drill/screw gun
  • sandpaper
  • stain or paint

    How-To:  

    Working on the DIY Bed Risers

    First measure the height of the legs of the bed (in our case the back side of the leg has a support bracket which is why you'll see the back side of our risers are slightly shorter) and add this height to 1.5 (the actual thickness of a 2x4).  This is the height your side boards will be for the bed riser.  For us it came to about 5 inches along the front three sides and 4 inches in the back.  

    Next cut your 2x4 to size to fit comfortably under the legs of your bed.  Then cut all the side pieces to size, creating a box around the 2x4 base.  

    Before assembling, it's a good idea to lay it out under one of the legs of the bed to make sure everything fits properly (as you can see from the "cut-away" example I have below).  Here you can see how the leg sits on the 2x4 base with all the side pieces around it.  

    DIY Bed Risers "Cut-Away" View

    Once you have all your pieces cut to size, pre-drill, wood glue, and screw everything together.  We used black screws so they would blend in better with the dark stain we chose.  Make sure everything is attached sturdily then sand and stain/paint in the color of your choosing.  We went with a dark stain since the rest of our bedroom set is a darker wood.  

    DIY Bed Riser built and ready for stain!
    A finished riser.

    After everything was dry, I had my husband help me by picking up one corner of the bed at a time so I could place a riser under each leg.  I also purchased a longer bedskirt that better fit the new height of the bed.  These risers aren't the most beautiful DIY project but they're pretty un-noticeable with the longer bedskirt - and the best part?  Now I can finally fit the storage totes under our bed!  

    Disclaimer:  Always make sure the risers you build are appropriate for your bed and your situation.  Make sure it's safe and sturdy before use!  

    DIY Bed Risers - After!

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    Shop My Favorite Finds on Amazon!

    We're huge Amazon fans in this house - living out in the boonies like we do means that a lot of home and grocery shopping is done online and you can't beat Amazon for their selection and Prime shipping!  | This page contains affiliate links |

    I've created a page on Amazon to showcase some of our favorite Amazon finds - everything from home, to beauty, to baby and kid items.  Items with a "speech bubble" in the corner means I've added a note about that item, just give it a click to see what I have to say about it.  

    Feel free to check our Favorite Amazon Finds often since I'll be continuing to add more items as they come up.  

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    Cataloging Past Family Christmas Cards

    Creating our family's Christmas card each year is a tradition I greatly look forward to.  I especially love looking back at past years to see how much everyone has grown.  I used to tuck these old cards away in a drawer but I've found it much more accessible and enjoyable to put them within reach, displayed in a special photo album.  | This post contains affiliate links |

    Cataloging Past Family Christmas Cards

    Luckily, we've always done 5x7 inch photo cards which fit perfectly inside a festive perfectly-sized photo album I found on Amazon. If you've done different sized or odd-sized cards through the years, it might make the most sense to use a big scrapbook to chronicle them. Just make sure to order an extra card to add to the album each year and cherish the memories!

    Cataloging Past Family Christmas Cards
    TIP:  Create a photo album with your family's yearly Christmas Cards

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