SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{December 29, 2016}   Decluttering the Closet. Again.

Hello, my readers!  It’s been a minute, no? Crazy year, not much to say, etc. 

I’m on Christmas Break from school this week and next. Due to the decision makers at the school board, we have a really interesting schedule this year, but I’ve adjusted, as much as someone who hates change can.  My pool game is improving (just don’t ask Coach), I’m developing closer relationships with some amazing folks, and my family is still breathing. Productive as heck, I think.

I talked to Jeepnmom the other day and set myself a couple of staycation goals. 1) swap over to a capsule wardrobe and 2) straighten out the hall closets.  Don’t I do this EVERY year?  Isn’t Jeepnmom ALWAYS my accountability partner? Even though she’s checking on me daily-ish, I’m pretty off-task.  But today was a good day.  

When Grizzly is at work and the monkeys with their Nana, I’m either going to nap or I’m going to accomplish something around the house. And because I felt motivated, the linen closet became goal #1.  As the photos show, my linen closet has become a random Hodge podge of hot mess.  I really do tackle it every year, but I’m not the only person living here, using these spaces.

Lightbulbs, medicine, toothpaste – they go together, right?

Cleaning rags, washcloths, vacuum cleaner parts…who even knows?

Sheets, towels, toilet paper, and so forth.

This  is the “before” of my linen closet. Yes, we’ve been here before.  But because we’ve been here before, it was a little easier to unload.

Um, this isn’t all of it.  But my bed gives me a big workspace to sort through things.  And sort/cull I did.  I realized we have enough pillow cases to supply all of SoBo.  I still have a pretty tablecloth – that goes with my old table.  Things that belong in the toolbox in the garage don’t go back. And we no longer have a twin bed anywhere in the house…. So decluttering before restocking was completely necessary.

It always amazes me how quickly and easily things get out of order and just clustered together.  But after years of working with this mess, I was able to sort my piles with remarkable speed – in between texts from my bestie, calls from my girl down the street, and snapchats from Monkey #2.  And I already had a plan in mind for putting it all back together.

Bins from an unused organizer

I was given two bin towers a few years ago. One is in my front hall, cluttered with half-finished projects. The other never made it in from the garage.  Upon careful examination, I thought the bins might fit the closet shelves more effectively than the Rubbermaid boxes I’ve been using.  And they do!  I can add labels for shampoo, conditioner, and whatever the last one will be. 

3 drawer desktop organizer

Next to the “new” bins, there’s plenty of room for a 3-drawer organizer.  I repurposed this a few years ago to store toothpaste, lotion, and soap.  It’s great for all of the samples I get in the mail from Freebies in Your Mail.  I also store extra toothbrushes in the toothpaste drawer.

Ignore the cleaning rag – that doesn’t live right there.

Because of the height of some shelves, I took apart a plastic bookshelf to add some more function to the space.  It makes my life easier to have it divided up like this.

Easy peasy added storage

The rest of the bookshelf is combined with another set.  This is where I keep a small basket of feminine products and the height of these shelves is perfect for toilet paper.  I can fit a 6-pack on each shelf.  And as much as the House of Cheaptitude uses?  I should fill  every shelf.

Functional, pretty storage for cleaning supplies and blankets

Years ago, I was a consultant with Thirty-one Gifts and I absolutely love their totes.  They’re roomy and well-made.  The one on the closet floor is full of throws and small quilts that don’t get used all the time but I still like to keep handy. It fits the space much better than the round basket I used before.  The smaller one on the shelf holds mop pads and cleaning rags.  Most of my totes are earth tones and go together without being matchy-matchy.

My lightbulbs stay in the original packaging until they’re needed.

A small toolbox or tackle box in a bright color makes a great first aid kit.

The top half of this closet is where I’m keeping those things that we don’t use regularly or things I don’t want the Monkeys to bother.  I have lightbulbs one one end.  On the other is the toolbox I repurposed as a First Aid Kit, as well as a basket of cloth napkins and placemats. Down below, I use photo boxes for deodorant and shaving items. Notice the whole shelf is dedicated to personal hygiene?

All the bath stuff on one shelf!

I keep a decorative bowl on top of the single shelf to hold washcloths.  Underneath, I can fit two small baskets for extra storage.  The frog is from Scentsy, a goodie from a home party.  They sell scented things that go in the toy to make everything smell better.  I did keep it in the Monkeys’ bathroom for years but I’m changing the theme in there so now it can keep my closet fresh.

More bath shelf

I folded some towels and shelved them, checking the best fit.

Finishing the tallish area

The crate acts as more shelving in the part of the closet.  I’ll keep plastic containers of odds and ends in the bottom part.  The blue 4 drawer organizer doesn’t go with the color scheme (it does  go with the frog!!) but the drawers are great. I have my Scentsy bulbs and bars, plug ins, and batteries. This is my favorite Avon purchase ever.

Kitchen and cleaning, minus table linens

Beginning the bedding shelf

I did end up with the ill-fitting Rubbermaid tub after all.  We have twelve bazillion pillowcases. Most of them are actually made by Grandma Cher, my mama, and go with quilts she’s made, so I don’t mind having so many. Dollar store baskets hold my dishcloths and potholders.

A more complete view

The frog makes me smile.

I wish all the baskets matched, but im a firm believer in “use what you got!”

I ended up with more bins than I need right now but am pretty pleased with the way it turned out!  Hopefully my motivation will stick around and I can move on to the closet in the front hall.

What’s on your project list?



{August 9, 2014}   The Recipe Binder

I am one of those people who would love to be a stay-home mom. If I could ever stay home! I get a taste during school breaks, but end up running around so much that I’m always ready to face the 8th grade again.

One of the things I love about being home is the idea of cooking. Notice, it’s the idea. I try to cook nearly every night, but often it’s something I throw together (beer pancakes and eggs, anyone?). Or, on really busy nights, a can of store brand ravioli (gasp!). I have several cookbooks and a box of recipes that I really like, but our schedule often limits my kitchen creativity.

And, honestly, how many of us really explore every recipe in a cookbook? I have one cookbook that I’ve tried several new things, but with most of my collection, I have only one or two. And what good is my recipe box if I can’t find Aunt Fran’s cocoa mix recipe when I want it?

This is where my recipe binder is coming in.  I will have a place to maintain those frequently accessed recipes, while decluttering my cabinet.  My dividers will have pretty traditional categories, with a few exceptions.  I need a divider for clipped recipes I’d like to try, as well as one for my freezer to crockpot recipes.

Where is my binder?  It’s still all in my head, totally in the planning stages.  I’ve copied and pasted all of the freezer recipes I love to a Word document and can print those any time now.  And I sold off several cookbooks in my garage sale last week.  So I’m getting there.

It’ll be a fun distraction when I should be lesson planning.

The dividers I’m planning so far include:
1. Freezer to Crockpot – this is for the recipes I’ve collected since starting to freezer cook – a lot of Sidetracked Sarah and Six Sisters.

2.  DIY Convenience Foods – breakfast burritos, oatmeal, granola bars, etc.  Things I might buy but should save money and do myself.

3.  Appetizers – I don’t do a lot of appetizers, but this is where I can include yummy dips and such.

4.  Sides, Fruits & Veggies – “Car-house” grandma’s macaroni & cheese, her applesauce, and that sort of thing.

5.  Main Courses – sorted by meats

6.  Casseroles

7.  Desserts & Snacks

8.  Beverages – grown up as well as kid-friendly! I will probably color code these….

9.   Family Favorites – tried and true things that I need quick access to regularly.  This should be near the front.

10.  Test Kitchen – recipes that I want to try.

11.  Miscellaneous

I thought about including DIY household and beauty, but I think my cleaners will better serve in my cleaning binder, and beauty stuff in my self-improvement binder.  I love a good binder.

So that is my next project, with the added bonuses of decluttering my cookbook collection and some Pinterest boards.  How do you handle recipes?

~ Katie

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I wish now that I had figured all of this out as a younger mom, when the monkeys were smaller. I feel like I wouldn’t struggle so much now!

With kids comes STUFF. As babies, they have more goop, accessories, diapers, clothes, and other purely baby stuff than a little bit. I know mine both became fun little people around 7 or 8 months, and toys began to flow into my home, in addition to walkers and high chairs and strollers and swings. I was glad when the bigger, more cumbersome pieces gave way to Pokémon and Build-a-Bear – except my kids have everything in excess.

Monkey #1 has over a thousand trading cards. He has Legos. He has animé books. He has them all over his room.

Monkey #2 is worse. She has a kid-sized kitchen. She has enough Barbies to populate Gobles, MI. Pillow pets and blanket animals and dress up costumes and accessories for every toy she has…all over her room.

What are some implementable ways of containing this crap stuff without stomping all over their childhood?

Tip #1 Monkey stuff should be easier to put away than to get out. There should be appropriate space allotted so that the Light Up Ladybug isn’t being crammed back where it goes.

Tip #2 Sort things according to function. Monkey #2 loves her Littlest Pet Shop toys. They’re small and we have a special bin especially for them. However, when the LPS come out to play, so do the Zhu Zhu Pets. So these are put away together. The play food is put away with the tea party sets and Tupperware play dishes, as well as her chef dress up clothes.

Tip #3 Bookshelves aren’t just for books! But this only works when spaces are assigned. Monkey has 2 shelves of books, one with movies, video games, and artsy stuff. The bottom shelf is where her bins of small toys are stored.

Tip #4 Get the kids involved. You don’t want to accidentally discard the card their bff in kindergarten made for them – even if they are 16 now. My monkeys are more inclined to give away books and toys if they know these items are going to someone less fortunate. It also sometimes works to photograph those sentimental dust collectors.

Tip #5 Art walls. Monkey #1 actually suggested this. Some cousins have “clotheslines” strung along a living room wall to clip original artwork. This way, a little Picasso can change decor easily, display creations without cluttering a fridge, and you don’t end up with swiss cheese walls (Grizzly is a little particular about nail holes!) Bulletin boards can be covered in coordinating fabric to match a monkey space. And I don’t claim to know every Kiddo’s taste, but my monkeys love a dry erase board.

Monkey #1’s space is organized and we’ll paint this summer. I’ve already implemented some of these ideas and some will come later. Monkey #2 will be tougher, because she has her own things as well as hand-me-downs from her brother. Our family seems to have an overabundance of the hoarding genes!

What ideas do you like for monkey spaces?

– Katie

et cetera
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