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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days 16: First Aid Kit

Every person needs a first aid kit in their car.  ESPECIALLY if you are a mom.  But really, everyone needs one.  You never know when a headache, indigestion, or even a dreaded paper cut could creep up on you or someone near you.

As part of my emergency preparedness, I have a first aid kit in every vehicle.  Today I will share mine with you.

Let me first share an important piece of information with you.  Don't but the pre-made corner pharmacy first aid kits.  Ya'll, these things are so useless.  They have a few bandaids, a couple individual packs of antibiotic ointment, and some burn cream.  Pretty limited on what you can treat with those things, and they are pricey to boot.

Kits are not all bad, you just need to know that it's not all-inclusive.  To make life simpler, you could start with a good kit and add to it.  I like this one.

Now that we've established that it is better and more cost efficient to make your own, we will address what you need to put in it.

Wound Care

  • Cohesive Wrap - I love this stuff, it replaces medical tape, ace bandages, and athletic tape.
  • Butterfly sutures
  • Gauze/dressings
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn cream (substitute Honey and Lavender)
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Alcohol or peroxide
  • Superglue
  • Vaseline (substitute coconut oil & beeswax mix)
  • Bandaids

Pain Management

  • Aspirin (also good for heart attacks - but must be chewed!)
  • Tylenol (substitute Rosemary or Peppermint)
  • Motrin (substitute Frankincense, Bergamot, or Chamomile)
  • Lidocaine spray (substitute Tea Tree or Clove oil)
  • Instant ice pack
  • Baby medicine syringe


  • Benadryl (I prefer keep the drug version on hand for use in emergencies only.  I've linked a reference article for your knowledge.) 
  • Cortizone (substitute Lavender)
  • Epi-pen (if you have a prescription)

Tools & Other

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Popsicle sticks (for emergency splints or tongue depressors)
  • Q-tips
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Hand sanitizer (I like this Honest Company spray style)
  • Thermometer (I prefer temporal)
  • Gloves
  • Safety pins
  • Feminine products (also useful for wound dressings)
  • Any prescription that your family cannot go 72 hours without.  During the 2014 Birmingham Snowpocalypse, I had a friend who had to get the police involved to get her baby girl seizure medicine that she desperately needed.  While I'm glad that the community banded together and got her what she needed, I can't imagine the desperate feeling of that poor mama.  Carry some with you, just in case! 
**Make sure all oils you include are pre-diluted with carrier oils for easy grab-and-go use.  The rule of thumb is 1% for children, 2% for adults, and 3% for medicinal use.  I keep mine in little glass roller bottles with labels.  I am not a homeopathic medicine practitioner and can only recommend to you what has worked for my family.  Please do your research before you treat your family with any natural remedies.  

Now that you've got everything together, what do you put it all in?  So many options.  You could use a baby wipe box, if you can fit everything in it.  If you started with a good basic first aid kit and added to it, you already have the bag it came in.  Or you could put it in a cute owl lunchbox that you got for $2 at a consignment sale.

Cute and functional.  What else would you include in a DIY first aid kit?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days 15: Essential Oils

I am a big fan of essential oils.  From cleaners to air fresheners to diaper cream and more, the uses are infinite.  

But storage can be a problem.  After all, it's a bunch of tiny glass bottles with the labels on the fronts.  A lot like spices, but smaller, and more fragile!

I keep mine guessed it, a bin.  I suppose I could have called this series "31 Days of Bins."  Oh, well.

The bin protects them and keeps the light off them, which is very important for EO storage.  But every time I needed something, I found myself pulling each bottle out to find what I was looking for.  I needed labels.  Ah, but the right tiny size is impossible to find at Staples.

So I turned to my BFF, Amazon.  Hello, doTerra labels!  They even came with a few blank ones for my mixes and home made oils.  

Now I can see what I have!  I keep a carrier oil and witch hazel in my bin so I can dilute dilute dilute!  Moderation, people.

**I am not a doTerra or Young Living rep.  I have not made a commitment to any essential oil company for multiple reasons.  Please do your research and make an educated decision when you begin your oily journey!

How do you organize your EO's?

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days 14: Christmas List

Christmas and toys.  No matter how you slice it, if you have kids, you will have toys.  Last year, I was asked what Little Man would like for Christmas several times.  I made the mistake of telling everyone, he likes Lego's and tractors.  We literally got like 50 Lego/tractor related items.  Some were even duplicates.

Grandma called us the day before Christmas and asked us to bring our truck when we came the next day.  My response was, "oh, do you need help moving something?"  Nope, she had just gotten him so much that she knew the car wouldn't hold it all.  You can't make this stuff up!

While we are SO blessed to have such a wonderful, loving, generous family for our boys, but I don't have any desire to break my neck, so I returned a few of the duplicates and some of the redundant block sets and put the cash in his piggy bank.  He never noticed the difference, he was only 1.

Well, this year, I know he will know.  I'm not going to outsmart that kid.  So, I knew we had to do something different at Christmas time.  But what to do?  How to answer the inevitable question, "what do they want for Christmas?"  Not to mention, since we have Shark Baby now, we have 2 boys that have almost every baby toy known to man.  It's overwhelming.

The real challenge here is a non-tacky way to do this.  I thought about the whole, "money for their college" thing, but it seemed tacky, and we've done books instead of toys, but now we have a TON of books.  I wanted to do a donation Christmas, but all family members want to buy them a toy.  Even though they don't need them, even though I don't want them, even though what they really need is clothes, there's just something about giving a baby a toy that they open and immediately play with that is those who do not have to live in the mountain of toys.  This is a true "first world problem."  I don't want to deprive my family of the joy of giving to my children, especially since Little Man is always so grateful.  I can't make a claim on that, it's just his sweet personality.  So how do I deal with this?

Well, since I know that people want to buy them gifts, and if I don't tell them what the kids would like we will end up with a bunch of stuff we already have, I went ahead and made a list of some good, mostly educational, toys that we don't already have.  I started with a Pinterest page where I linked some items that I knew they would love.

There are some pros and cons to this.  First, anyone without a Pinterest account can only look at the page for a couple seconds before being prompted to create their own account.  Wait, what, everyone doesn't already have a Pinterest account?!  I know, crazy.  What's up with that, Pinterest?  On the pro side, people can comment on an item to note that it's been purchased.  No duplicates!

Before you ask, I thought originally about creating an Amazon registry, but it seemed tacky to register for Christmas gifts for your kids.  Also, with Pinterest I can add intangibles like zoo tickets and Kiwi crates to the board.

I think my last resort is going to be to write a blog called " Christmas List 2014" that lists some great options for Christmas gifts for any baby or toddler, and send people that link instead.  I won't avoid duplicates, but I'm thinking if we get any this year I will bring Little Man to a charity to donate them, so he can feel the joy of giving too!

How do you minimize the toy avalanche that comes with a very blessed Christmas?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days 13: "Dump Zone"

Everyone has them.  Those areas of your home that your family dumps their stuff every day when they get home.

Honesty moment:  I am the worst offender in my house.  When I get home from work, I have my laptop bag, my purse, my cooler and pump, my kids bags from daycare, possibly a diaper bag, and whatever else I may have grabbed on the way home.  Between my 8 trips to the car to get the kids and my stuff all into the house, I just pile it all up in one spot.  For shame!

No matter how many times I have tried to organize this space, it inevitably accumulates more stuff.  So I tried to change the habit.  But here's the thing: the dump zone works.  There, I said it.  It is simply easier to have one place that I dump all this stuff so that #1: I always know where it is, and #2 it's all in one place when I need to grab it the next morning on my way out the door.

But it looks like crap.  I find myself putting all of these things in their designated "homes" when company comes over, but the next morning I have to go around to all these different places to get all my stuff.  Not very efficient.  This stuff needs to stay in the dump zone, the dump zone needs to be it's home.  So the only solution seems to be to somehow hide the crap in the dump zone.  And the easiest way to hide a mish-mash of stuff is a bin.

So I added a few.

And look at the difference!  No, they are not a perfect fit.  But the were $6 each on clearance at Target, they match my kitchen decor, and they neatly hide all my junk!

I added a few cute $1 cans to collect small junk like change and pocket items.

I've had these nifty pantry crates for a while that I couldn't figure out what to use for.  They work neatly as potato and garlic storage.

I added a serving bowl for fruit and put my breadmaker on the shelf with the toaster oven.  This way it's not taking up valuable counter space.

Last, but most importantly, I removed one of the glass jars I was using to store snacks.  I had one for granola bars (a staple breakfast at my house), and another for snacks.  This became a problem after Little Man caught me one day trying to scarf a twinkie without him noticing.  Then, of course, I had to share with him, which proceeded with him asking for a twinkie for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY.  So I put them in a bin in the pantry, and used the jar for another fun project I will share with you soon.  Out of sight, out of mind.

So how about you?  Where is your designated dump zone?  How do you keep it under control?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days 12: An Organized Pantry

I have 3 pantries.

I know, I'm lucky to have so much storage space!

But that means that when I'm cooking I have to go to 3 different places to get what I need.  Doesn't make for a very good Rachel Ray carry.

So I've divided the stuff into 3 separate groups.

1. Paper goods
2. Snacks and baking items
3. Grocery store

Really #3 is "all other stuff" but we stock so much from couponing that Mr. Rogue Mom lovingly calls it my in-home grocery store.  Previously, I shared my redo of the Paper Pantry.   Today, I will share how I keep my snack/baking items pantry organized.

The first thing I will share with you is that about 2 months ago we had a run-in with pantry moths.   Maybe one day when I'm not as horrified with it, I will share that story.  Suffice it to say, read the linked article, and follow the advice to avoid getting them in the first place!  It will save you some serious heartache and money too!

So I already have all these air-tight bins for my baking goods.  I intended on making fancy labels, but those super-awesome Silhouettes are too pricey to justify what I would use them for.  So instead, I grabbed some washi-tape and made hand-written labels.  Even with my not-cute blocky blueprint handwriting, they are still cute!

A long time ago, I saw a great idea on Pinterest (don't we all), and decided to paint the inside of my pantry with chalk paint to keep my grocery list on.  While it turned out great, I never ended up using it for that purpose.  Mainly because I hate child locks and so I open my cabinets as little as humanly possible.

Instead, I keep a cute conversion chart there.  When I'm baking, I have this cabinet open often, so it makes sense to keep it there.

A couple bins for pouches, and a baby food organizer from Amazon, and this spiffy pantry will do the trick!

How do you keep your pantry organized, and free of pests?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Review: "Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink" by Katrina Alcorn

Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink

I'm taking a break from my 31 Days today to share a book with you that I have just finished.  The Rogue Mom loves to read almost as much as she loves referring to herself in the third person.

I'm going to get serious today.  I like my blog to be witty and fun because I need fun in my life.  I'm a full-time work-outside-the-home mom.  To be exact, since I have a salaried position, I actually work quite a bit more than 40 hours a week and do not receive additional pay.  Ah, the glorious of an industrialized civilization.

But I wanted to share a topic of great importance with you, because I want you to know that you are not alone.  I started this blog because I felt alone, but I knew there must be someone out there who felt like I do.  Now I know that there are TONS of us.

If you are a working mother, you know the stress involved with balancing essentially two separate lives: your work life and your family life.

And that's pretty much what it feels like.

You're walking a tightrope of guilt.  On one side is your work life.  You may have a career or just a job, but either way, you want to be the best at what you do.  It's part of your self-worth.  It may be part of your family-worth.  Many women, like me, believe that the value they contribute to their family is partly financial.  

On the other side is your family.  You want to be the best mom you can be.  The best wife.  The best cook, maid, teacher, role model, friend, the best model of faith that you can be for your family.  The best at everything.

So you add more and more to your plate.  Maybe you make home made organic baby food.  Maybe you volunteer to be chaperone on every field trip.  Maybe you coach your kids soccer team or girl scout group.  Maybe you take on that extra project at work to impress your boss.  Maybe you coupon to save your family money.  Maybe you just do everything that you do 100% and give it your all.

And maybe that's coming at a price.

The price, girls, is you.  All that time focused on other people can drain you.  It will drain your energy, your patience, your happiness, until you feel like a shell.  You're all alone, and you don't know how to get out of the hamster wheel.

It looks a little different for each of us.  For some, you can see it written on their faces.  Others put on a brave face and pretend like nothing is wrong.  But everything is wrong.

Perhaps you're one of the five of every mother that is on some kind of upper or downer.  Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and sleeping pills are prescribed to us like candy.  Maybe they help you cope.  Maybe they don't.

My life looks exactly like this.  I'm the brave face, the one who pretends like nothing as wrong.  Only Mr. Rogue Mom knows otherwise.  And he is the king of my world.  This man isn't afraid to do dishes, do laundry, give neck rubs, change poopy diapers, and give his all to try to ease the load.  But he can't do much about the personal guilt I feel for not being the best at everything.

For me, it didn't happen until I got pregnant with my second child.  Gaining an extra 25% of my weight and carrying it around while trying to carry a toddler and make sure everything would run smooth while I was on maternity leave.  Coming back and realizing that while I was gone I had become the scape-goat for everything that went wrong, because it's easy to blame someone who isn't around to defend themselves, and because they knew I was tough and figured I could take it.  I did too.

But then the guilt kicked in.  I felt the glass ceiling, for the first time in my life.  The glass ceiling isn't even the right analogy.  There's not much discrimination left for a single, childless career woman who gives her work everything.  But when we have kids and decide that family is first, when we hit the age that we may have to be out for maternity leave and take "3-month vacations," when we can't travel all around the country because we choose to nurse and pump in bathroom stalls or storage closets for the health of our infants, when we have to leave "early" to pick up the kids from daycare, we suddenly start getting passed over for promotions.  Our raises get smaller.  If we're lucky and can negotiate a part-time position, our pay gets disproportionately cut.  It's better to describe it as the corporate latter.  It gets damned harder to climb carrying babies on your back.

And the stress just adds up.  I found this book at a time in my life that I needed it most.  NOW.  I hope you read it.  I hope you tell your friends, your husband, your mother to read it.  I hope you secretly leave a copy in your boss's office, or maybe that single co-worker who gives you dirty looks when they see your put your precious pumped milk in the fridge, or when you leave after only 8 short hours of work (even though you accomplished twice as much.  Being a mom makes your brain more efficient, did you know that?)

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:  "We have this unwritten, unacknowledged, and unyielding expectation that working parents will make the accommodations necessary to do their jobs just as if they don't have children.  If you don't like it, hire someone else to raise your children.  And if you don't like that, then quit.  Except, of course, you can't quit, because you can't get by on one income.  Well, then, if it's too much work, don't have babies!  And there you have it.  America's delusion of rugged individualism, taken to its absurd conclusion: the end of the human race."

I have to warn you that her views are very liberal.  Being very conservative myself, I still agree with her that society wide changes need to take place to solve this crisis in our families.  And it starts, like everything else, with the knowledge that we do, in fact, have a problem.  You can feel it in your heart, and you are not alone.  Not even a little bit.

31 Days 11: Sewing Board

Since it's Sunday, the day of rest, I'm going to post on a project that has already been done.  My lovely sewing board.

Mr. Rogue Mom made this for me with a piece of pegboard he wasn't using in the garage.  I painted it with chalkboard paint and trimmed it out with a piece of cheap moulding, spray painted in champagne gold.  

I used some of his pegboard attachments to hang my thread holder, bobbins, cutters, and a couple cute buckets I found in The One Spot at Target for $1 each.

I love this thing because I'm not digging through sewing table drawers trying to find stuff.  It really cuts down on my project time.  Organized time saver, great gift for any mom!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

31 Days 10: Supply Closet

I have a random closet in my dining room.  This space has been deemed the "paper pantry" because we keep paper and cleaning supplies in it, and because it's catchy and makes my OCD happy.

But like all closets, it can get cluttered with such a random assortment of stuff in it.

Everything from party hats to TP to mops and brooms.  It became so cluttered I mistakenly thought I was out of room and had put overflow in the big pantry.  

I started by sorting all my items, making sure I collected my overflow from around the house.

I added a command hook on the door for my plastic bags because I was tired of reaching into the back of the closet to stuff them in a bag, only for half of them to fall on the floor.  Short girl problems...

Then I grabbed a couple more of my favorite bins to toss party supplies and small cleaning supplies in.

I discovered I had plenty of room for everything.  

Even the light bulbs that had previously lived in the big pantry.  Lesson learned, when you think you're out of space, it's time to reorganize.

How do you organize your paper goods?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

31 Days 9: An Organized Changing Table

With 2 boys in diapers, some days it feels like I spend half the day changing Huggies.  (No matter how much we tried, Little Man had no desire to potty train at 18 months old in one weekend!  I won't say I told you so if you fall for that sales pitch too.)

So an organized changing table can be life changing.  

In our house we have a second floor.  I'm sure when they are teenagers I will be thrilled with the separation of space, but for now it's such a pain to carry even laundry upstairs, let alone hauling two heavy children up there every couple hours for a diaper change.  I figured this out real quick while I was recovering from my second c-section. 

But I wasn't about to buy another piece of furniture!  So I thought, what is a changing table really but a waist height storage table? I had an old rolling kitchen island, the kind you buy at the hardware store made of particle board, that was just the right height.  I put a diaper organizer and a changing pad on top and voilĂ !

Underneath I have extra diapers and wipes, a bin for dirty clothes, blankets, a first aid kit, and refills for the Diaper Genie.  Everything I need so I never have to walk away from a squirmy baby on a changing table.  Because I just don't trust that buckle.

Does anyone else have babies' rooms upstairs?  What solutions have you found to save your back?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days 8: Book Nook

A little late here on my post today.  Turns out that my little ones do not know or care that it is 31 Days October, and decided to contract some form of the 24 hour plague.  So I have spent the last couple days cleaning up vomit, shampooing the seats of my company car, washing car seat covers and blankies and other vomit-covered items, attempting to convince my child that he does not want to sleep with a vomit-covered blankie, and taking an unreasonable amount of time reassembling the car seat in question.  Did I mention my car wouldn't start this morning?  I probably killed the battery using the cigarette-lighter car vacuum at 11pm last night.  It really isn't my week.

So there are these little outcrops on my roof called "doghouses."  If you have these, you know that they can be a pain, because they create an odd little space in a room that seems to collect junk.  But if you're creative, you can make these niches into cool little private nooks.  Tons of possibilities.

For a kid who can't yet read, Little Man is obsessed with books.  It's his third favorite thing, beat only by his love for cookies and playing outside.  He will often read me a book, turning the pages of Fox in Socks and saying every word that rhymes with "box" that you can think of.  There is literally nothing cuter in the world.  (And to think I used to hate that book...)

But there are many things a 2-year old is not too great at, such as putting books back on a shelf.  Lining them up on the skinny end next to each just doesn't happen at my house.  He stacks them up in a haphazard pile that is likely to end up spilling on my toes.  (Especially this week.)

So now I have a couple of requirements for the book nook.  Cozy, comfy, and a place to keep books that he can handle that will not injure my toes.

I grabbed a basket I had previously been using for toys.  It's really to shallow for toys, they are always spilling out.  But books?  It could work.

Next I needed something cushy he could sit/lay on.  I walked around for a few minutes and then remembered that I have a small mattress that I used when Shark Baby was an infant in my co-sleeper that my wonderful Hubby and Daddy made for me.  I'm so spoiled.  **As we do not have access to a CNC router, we winged it, some day soon I will share the plans for how we did it.  

I even had sheets for it.  So, mattress, sheet, basket & books.  I piled pillows and blankets back there to make it cozy.  Here is the before (with the mattress, because I did not follow my own protocol for organizing steps):

No, the Rogue Mom is not embarrassed to show a picture of her house with crap everywhere.  This is what life looks like working full time outside the home with two littles, and the Rogue Mom ain't ashamed!  OK, enough referring to myself in the third person.

Now let's see if he uses it!

How have you utilized the space in your doghouses?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

31 Days 7: Coupons

When I first started couponing, I felt a bit silly.  I had watched some of those Extreme Couponing shows, and didn't want Mr. Rogue Mom to think that I was going to come home with 35 bottles of ketchup and a bag of oranges for the week.

But the more I did it, the more I learned.  And now I shop with the sale, and stockpile enough to last until the next one.  It's kind of like having a little store in your pantry.  And of course, you're always prepared for an emergency.

So of course, like all organization, my coupon storage has evolved since that first post.  Most of the other advice still holds true to the busy working mom who does not have time to go all-out to find the best deal.  I need quick, easy, and cost-effective.

First, let me tell you about the blogs I follow on Feedly (my blog reader.)  Because there's no point in wasting a lot of time when there are people out there doing the hard work for you!

I have a couple stores I stick to, I'm familiar with their policies and I don't want to drive all over town.  I do most of my food shopping at Publix, and I follow I Heart Publix.  I use their website to create my list, because I can save it and come back to it, and they sort it by aisle, saving me an astronomical amount of time.  I may do an entire post on that some time soon, once they get the kinks worked out of their new site.

I shop for home and baby items at Target, and I follow All Things Target for that.  I use mobile coupons and Cartwheel paired with manufacturer coupons to get GREAT deals on diapers and other items.  Don't forget The One Spot, where I get bins all the time.

For toiletries, pharmacies always have the best deals.  I usually stick to CVS, but I will go to Walgreens if they have a lot of things I can get in one trip.  I usually go through the Sunday ads for these.

Now on to the organizing.  I have two accordion files.  The little one I still use for loose coupons that I've cut but am waiting for a sale.  I have a big one as well, and I take the coupons out of the newspaper and put them, whole, in here by week.

So how do I know what's in there?  My favorite blog of all, Southern Savers.  They have a coupon database where I can look up coupons by date, booklet, or just search for an item I need to see if there are any coupons out there for it.  There's a website called for this too, but I find that a lot of those are from websites where they want you to sign up for email newsletters, and I get enough of those as it is.  

When I find a coupon I'm going to use, I clip it and stick it in the front pocket of the file, and if there are multiple stores I paper-clip them together by store with color-coordinated paper clips (green for Publix, red for Target, etc.)  I add them to my online Publix list, and voila!  For items not coming from Publix, I use the Out of Milk app.  I can create lists by store and organize them however I want.  I can even share the list with Mr. Rogue Mom so that he can do the shopping.  (Ha!  I couldn't even keep a straight face for that one...Mr. Rogue Mom grocery shopping...)

For items we need/are out of, we have a dry-erase board in the kitchen.  We write the item on the list, and on my shopping day, I take a picture of the list on my phone.  

For other working mom/other people who don't have time to coupon grocery shopping tips, check out my original post here.

How do you organize your coupons and grocery lists?

Monday, October 6, 2014

31 Days 6: Where to "shop" for boxes

Along the way, it has occurred to me that I am constantly telling you to shop your home for boxes to organize with, but I haven't told you how to go about doing that.  Just because I have an old box from this or that doesn't mean you will.  So today I will share with you where and how I "shop" my home, and other places, for organizing boxes.

To find the right box, you must first think outside the box.  Pun intended.  There may be an option that you would not normally consider.  To open your mind, you must first start with the blue pill.

Just kidding.  The first thing to do is figure out the size and shape of box that you need.  Storing hats?  Look for something round.  Anything other than that usually requires a square or rectangular shape, because they waste less space when grouped together.

Your next requirement is strength.  For most situations, a flimsy box is not going to do the trick.  Especially if you are going to pretty it up.  More on that later.

So with these restraints in mind, go forth and search.  Don't limit yourself to empties!  Often there is a box perfect for what I need being used for something that it's not so perfect for.  I happily switch it out and go in search of a box that is more practical for that application.  Shuffling can be key to creating functionality in your home, because you are always looking for a better way to create function.  Here are some recommendations for strong, useful boxes that are "free."

iPhone and iPad Boxes
These things are perfect drawer organizers.  They are super sturdy and very straight, and are very easy to decorate.  You can cover them in paper, add washi tape stripes or borders, or even paint them to pretty them up.  At work, I order and set up iPads for people.  If they don't want the box, I keep them!  They usually don't.  So you're not the designated iPhone/iPad setup person for your office?  Ask the person who is, usually IT.

File Boxes
Sometimes you can get these things for free at work when they're being switched out - there's only so many times you can write on them and reuse them before new ones are requested.  They are easy to cover and come with lids.

Grocery Boxes
I've seen a lot of posts where people use cereal and snack boxes for drawer organizers.  While the shape and size are right for the job, the strength is not.  They will be replacing those things pretty soon.  I'm not a glutton for new projects, once I do something I do not want to re-do it for a while.  (I don't even decorate for seasons unless it's Christmas, folks.)  So I won't recommend that.  What I will recommend is using other free packaging from your regular groceries for storage.  Diaper boxes are AWESOME for cubby storage and can be decorated with shelf paper or even colored duct tape.  Coffee cans can be spray-painted and used to hold all kinds of fun things.  I have baby wipe boxes all over my house used for everything from small baby toys to little diaper-changing kits in all the cars to first aid kits.  I even saw a great post for grabbing free Aldi boxes and covering those.

Glass Jars
Don't forget those glass spaghetti sauce jars (or even paper-covered cans) for holding pens, pencils, cosmetic brushes, and craft supplies.  I use baby food jars for all kinds of home made remedies and test concoctions for my Etsy shop.  For bigger items, sometimes I will buy some mason jars from the thrift store or Old Time Pottery (not just cheap decorating stuff, but a great place for cheap organizing supplies.)

If you have searched your home for all of these things but are still coming up short, and the thrift store is out of great finds, try some of these choice spots for bins and boxes:

Target One-Spot
If you haven't walked the Target One-Spot aisle, we can't be friends.  Just kidding!  Maybe.  So here's the dish: everything in this section is either $1 or $3.  And when it goes on Cartwheel?  It can be from 5% to 30% off!  They usually have some great little plastic bins, boxes, or cans in pretty colors.  Every time I see some good ones in my go-to colors, I grab a few.  I will never run out of ways to use these, from pantry storage to closet cubbies.

Old Time Pottery
I always think of Old Time Pottery as the mothership of the dollar stores.  Most of the stuff is cheap and off-brand, but they do have some good stuff if you know where to look.  While I wouldn't buy linens or furniture there, I do buy mason jars, plastic bins, baskets, and cheapo frames occasionally.

Dollar Store
If you don't have an Old Time Pottery or Target in your town, try the Dollar store.  The good stuff can be few and far between, but if you shop there with the same mindset as shopping your home, you may find something that works.

Oh, how I wish we had an IKEA in my town.  I always see people post great finds from IKEA, in simple styles that can be easily modified to match your decor.  If you are blessed enough to live within driving range, this is a great spot to shop.

Now that we've covered the "where" and "how" to look, I thought I'd post some cool ideas on decorating our fun finds.  Check out my Pinterest page for more!

As if I needed another reason to love what about you?  Where do you "shop" for organizing materials?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

31 Days 5: Toddler Closet

If you read yesterday's post, you know that I had to switch my kids' closets because, well, I had their closets switched.  Shark Baby's closet is fairly empty now, which makes me happy, because I can now offer Hubby proof that I am not, in fact, a hoarder.  I just save things that may be useful for another purpose.  I call it thrifty.  He calls it trash.  Ah, married life.  *Actually the truth is, we balance each other out.  He would buy everything brand new without looking at the price tag on his own, and if I didn't have him to go behind me throwing crap out, I probably would be in danger of being a bit of a hoarder.  That's the beauty of finding your other half.  Mr. Rogue Mom completes me :).

Now that I've had my corny moment for the day, on to Little Man's closet!  With his own clothes in it!

Here is the before.

 It's not messy, but it doesn't function.  Partly because, well, those aren't his clothes.  That bin on the floor has air mattresses in it.  Doesn't go here.  The shelves are full of baby gear and keepsakes.

This time I remembered to take a picture of the empty space.

Or tried to.  Little Man wanted to be in the empty closet.  Wonder why all these spaces are in disarray?  You moms remember.

Next I put away the things that didn't go here, which was most of it.  The clothes moved to Shark Baby's room or into "too small" bins, the mattresses into the linen closet.  But the keepsakes are his.  And I want them to be taken care of, not tossed in the top of his closet.  I needed a box.

So next step, shopping.  I found a box I bought at T.J. Maxx because I loved it, but never found a use for it.  No longer!  Mind you, it's not a baby box.  It's not even a boy box.  It's a teal ikat very "mom" box.  But it's a box, it's the right size, it's FREE, and it will protect those little keepsakes I love.  Perfectly imperfect.

And while I was going through these keepsakes, this happened.

Well, I needed to vaccuum anyway, and baby powder actually works as a pretty good carpet freshener.  Always learning, young padawan.

After vacuuming and wiping the baby powder off my purple minion, I got back to work.  I have always had a love/hate relationship with this closet.  The opening isn't wide enough.  You can't reach into the sides of this closet.  In my renovation plan, I want this opening widened.  But that involves sheetrock, carpet, lumber, a demo hammer...for now, I must make do.  So what to do with the negative space?

Nothing.  No, I'm not going to figure out a super crafty interesting way to use that space, because if I can't reach it, it will inevitably become a no-man's land of stuff we throw back there and forget about. Sometimes, working with what we have means that there isn't a solution to every problem.  So I took a moment, accepted it, and moved on.

I put socks and underwear in little $3 bins that I buy from Target when the One Spot goes on Cartwheel all the time without a specific purpose in mind.  I have a ton of these lying around.  Since I don't have a dresser for Little Man, his shirts and shorts and pants get stacked on shelves.

In the top of the closet, I have his extra sheets and comforter, his humidifier for when he's sick, his very grown-up keepsake box, his nap mat for when his cousins stay over, a hat his Great Grandpa gave him, and a bag of blankets.  These things were everywhere.  I gathered them up and put them in one of those zip-up plastic bags that so many linens and toys come in that I always want to save and Hubby always tries to throw away.  See Hubby?  Waste not.

And the negative space to the right?  There's a toy Little Man put there that he can reach, but other than that, nothing.  Maybe I will find a creative way to use this space, maybe not.  For now, everything that is here goes here, and nothing is here that doesn't go here.  I can get to everything (well, I can with a step stool, but such is the life of a short girl.)  

It's not earth-shattering.  It's not something people are going to repin 1000 times on Pinterest.  I keep saying that, but this is about stuff we are actually going to live with, not stuff we dream about with our dream house Pinterest board.  Love what you have now!  You will be happier in the long run.  I know I am, now that I can sit on my laundry-free couch!

How do you organize your closets?  And how do you deal with wasted space areas?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Saturday, October 4, 2014

31 Days 4: Baby Closet

We are so blessed to have tons of closet space in our new house.  But I have discovered that if you have the space, you will put something in it.  So big closets collect and collect and collect until there is no semblance of order.

Our baby's closet had become this way.  When he was born, we moved the crib into his room and upgraded Little Man to a twin bed.  But somehow, the clothes didn't follow.  Until today, I was still keeping all of Little Man's clothes in Shark Baby's closet.  This led to mass confusion at laundry time.  Do I go ahead and switch the closets?  Do I put the clean clothes in Shark Baby's closet?  So I did what any logical person would do and left them on the couch.

Because nothing says, "welcome to my home!" like having to scoot over piles of folded baby clothes to sit down.

This had to happen.  Here's what I started with.

The first two pictures, not too bad unless you consider that the child who wears these items is not living in this room.  But the third picture?  Embarrassing.  The bins at the bottom are Little Man's old clothes that I opened for Shark Baby, who is growing so fast that I have not had a chance to put the bins he's going through away.

Actually, I went to do it one day, found an outfit that we had taken family pictures in with Little Man when he was 13 months old that was almost too small for Shark Baby, who is only 7 months old, and had to stop and cry.  And if you tell me they grow too fast I will smack you, a 7 month old should not be wearing 12 month outfits, it's too hard on his mommy!

Today I decided to clean it up and tackle the switch!  This was a mass undertaking.  I started with step one, empty them both out!  And...I got so excited that I forgot to take a picture of the empty closet.  Rookie mistake.

I had to go through all the old bins and resort them by size.  I have two bins in each closet: "too big" and "too small."  When he outgrows clothes, I wash them and put them in the "too small" bin until it's full, label it by gender, size, and season, and put it in the storage closet.  (More on that mess later!)

Once this was done, I moved Little Man's clothes to the closet in his room.  Then I had a baby closet with very few hanging clothes.  What I do have is a ton of baby gear and toys.  So in the closet they go!

I hung up the diaper hanger I've never used, it has burp cloth's in it now.  Love giving something not being used a new purpose.  I also hung up the size markers I hadn't used since Little Man was teeny.

Here are my too big too little bins, and an organizer that I'm not using yet.  This may end up being better used somewhere else, we shall see.

I have a bib basket and a shoe bin, and threw all the baby hangers in a basket I've had for a while.

And some toys we're not using right now.  And what is that...the floor!  And the change is even more impressive in the other closet.  Stay tuned tomorrow for that!

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Friday, October 3, 2014

31 Days 3: The Chest Freezer

Confession.  I am a bit of a prepper.  Living in tornado and hurricane alley has made me no stranger to disasters.  So I have a ton of food.  And a generator.  And various other supplies for emergencies.

That's a lot of stuff to store.  I have a big ugly hand me down chest freezer for all my frozen food.  It sits in all it's scarred, stained glory in my mudroom off the garage.  Chest freezers are the toy boxes of the kitchen.  Everything gets haphazardly thrown in and it becomes a huge mess and nobody knows what's in there!  And if there's anything worse than a mess, it's wasting food you didn't even know you had.

The solution to this problem is so simple it makes me mad I didn't think about it sooner.  A list.

Can I say, I heart lists?  They make my life so much easier.  Lists for packing, to do lists, grocery lists on the Publix website (have you discovered this yet?)  Love them.  

I know that no amount of bins will keep the freezer neat.  I've tried rearranging them so many times, to no avail.  So instead of wasting my time rearranging the bins yet again, I made a list of everything in that ugly beast.  But how to keep my new running inventory up to date?  

A dry erase board would be the optimal solution, but I don't have one.  Hmmm, time for some creativity.  What else can I write on and erase easily?  Glass!

I have this cheap picture frame upstairs that I bought and never used.  I cut out some wrapping paper to fit, and wrote my list on it.  Easy peasy!  Talk about a 5 minute fix.

My writing isn't pretty, and we won't even talk about that hideous school bus yellow paint (who picks this color?!)  But it's cute, and I always know what I have.  I can stop buying ground turkey for a while, how the heck did I buy so much?

Another problem do you keep your freezers organized?

31 Days of Organizing Projects Using What You Already Have

Thursday, October 2, 2014

31 Days 2: Junk Drawers

Ah the junk drawer.  Duly named because we all have some random crap that we don't know what else to do with.  In my house, this is also the "we have company coming, sweep everything off the counter into the drawer!" drawer.  I have 3 of them.

They sit happily by themselves in the coffee nook.  There are actually 4, but I use the fourth for my K-cups.  Now before I dive right in, I want to share my "steps" to organizing.  There's a method to my madness.  Sometimes.

Step 1: Empty.  Take EVERYTHING out.  This is so important.  If you skip this step, you let the old cluttered space influence the new function of the space.

Step 2: Stop.  Think.  Clean.  My first thought is always, "what really needs to go in this space?"  For example, is the space working to it's full potential as a junk drawer, or should I use it as something else and make another drawer the junk drawer?  I go through this thought process as I clean my space.

Step 3: Purge.  Anything that does not go in this space needs to be put away.  "It's time to go home ball, are you too good for your home?!"  Love me some Adam Sandler.

Step 4: Plan.  Now that you have a group of items that go in the space, make a plan for how you will organize these items.  Do you need bins?  Shelves?  How will I make it pretty?  Is it even necessary for it to be pretty?

Step 5: Shop.  In the name of this challenge, I'm going to shop what I have first and foremost.

Step 6: Organize!  Finally!

Step 7: Have a glass of wine in celebration.  Because why not?

So, my junk drawers.  Here they are, in all their junky glory.

I couldn't even open the left one all the way, it was so full of junk.  So I step 1'd and emptied!  Well, all except my K-cup drawer.

So much better already.  After a quick wipe-down, I knew that this is the best place for the junk, so I stuck with it.  I put random items that had another home away.  Tools, placemats, bug traps all managed to find their way here.

Planning.  I grouped my items into categories to put back in their drawers.  Canning and Kitchenaid parts in one, batteries and other safety items in another, and tools and tape in the other.

Shopping.  I piled up the old drawer organizers and grabbed some others I had around.  Does a junk drawer need to be pretty?  Honestly, I know more junk will be put here.  Nobody sees these but my husband and I.  So I don't feel the need to expend effort making them pretty.  There's not a lot of impact to my life in a pretty junk drawer.  

Organize!  Yay!  Everything went back in pretty quickly.  Here they are:

Ah, much better.  I can see and find everything here.  Not life changing, but everything in it's home.

So Day 2, and no money spent!  Yay for thrift, and yay for function!  On to the next space!

What kind of "junk" lands in your junk drawers?