Organization Hack: Lists

I have mentioned several times that I use lists for everything to help keep me organized.  I have had a few questions about how I keep up with my lists, so I thought I would share what I do with all of you today. I NEED lists.  I could not function without my lists.  If it isn’t on a list somewhere, it isn’t getting done, or I will forget it totally. I know this about myself.  I know that my memory gets worse and worse the older I get.  This is why lists are crucial for me.  In all honesty, I prefer handwritten lists.  The act of writing it down and seeing it in my handwriting is just how I process things. When I was in high school and college, I would recopy all of my notes as a way of studying.  That is how I have always learned and remembered things best. It is just how my brain works.  I actually prefer keeping my lists in a notebook.  Unfortunately, it’s not easy to carry a notebook around with you at all times.  I do have a small notebook that fits in most of my purses that I keep some things in like lists of my children’s medications, doctors and their phone numbers and addresses, and things like that. I also use it when I am in the doctor’s office with one of my kids to write notes on or things I need to remember that the doctor says.  Otherwise, it goes in one ear and out the other ear. Even the small notebook isn’t very convenient.  It isn’t always near me. The one thing that is ALWAYS within arms reach of me is my phone. I have had to train myself to keep my lists and notes in my phone instead of the notebook.  I will tell you that it wasn’t easy transitioning to this form of list making.  While it is not my preferred method, I have had to adapt.  I still do fear loosing my phone or things getting accidently deleted, but I just have to suck it up and use it anyway because it is what works for my lifestyle of always being on the go. 

I have tried many different reminder and lists making apps over the years, but what I have found that works best for me is the simple note pad app that comes on every iPhone.  In this app, I am able to create different folders based on my needs.  For example, I have a folder for this blog where I jot down ideas, lists of things I want to write about, and things I need to do. Sometimes, when I am driving, an idea will come to my head and I will start voice texting the post into a note. I also have folders for my Trades of Hope and R+F businesses where I keep things I want to post on social media or things I need to do. There are folders for gymnastics where I keep scores and meeting notes. There are even still folders from when I was teaching with lists of things I needed to do or buy or ideas I had. Then I have a generic folder where I keep everything else. That folder is really the heart of my note taking and list making.  It is where I keep lists of things that I need to pack for a trip. There is even a permanent Disney packing list in there too.  I keep lists of books I want to read and TV shows that people recommend.  I keep a running list of the groceries I need and just add to it as we run out of things. I have a permanent to do list that I just keep adding more and more things to.  If you can think of it, there is probably a list for it in there.  My whole life is in that notepad.  To loose it would be detrimental!

The one thing that I don’t like about the notes app is that I can’t cross things out.  I get a lot of satisfaction out of crossing things off of my list.  However, I have adapted yet again and now have a different system for crossing things off the list.  I use the green check emoji to “check off” things that I have done.  It is not the same level of satisfaction as physically crossing it out, but it serves the purpose. I keeps me on track and lets me know what I have left to do. I love it when I seen green check marks everywhere.

As you can see, it is pretty simple to keep up with all the things that you need to remember and do if you train yourself to do it. I have found that lists really keep me organized and prevent me from missing things that are important. I live and die by my lists and my calendar in my phone. Without those 2 things, I would be totally lost. I encourage you to find a system that works for you. You may find a different app that works better for you than what I use. It is just trial and error until you find what works best. If you are still a pen and paper lover like me and just can’t transition to the digital world, I encourage you to use a small notebook. It just keeps it all in one place versus having a million little notes all over the place that can get misplaced. Having things written down (however you choose to do it) really helps to keep you organized.

Anchored and Organized,

Organization Hack: Over the Door Shoe Organizer

Today I want to talk to you about a simple over the door shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets that you can get at places like Walmart, Target, or Amazon. Sometimes you can even find them at your local dollar store. This simple thing can be used in so many ways other than just for shoes.  I recommend that you use the ones with clear pockets so that you can see what is in each pocket easily.  These also come in a variety of sizes.  Some are short, some are long, and they have varying numbers of pockets.  You can pick the one that best suits your needs.  While these are meant to hang on a door, you can also hang them on the wall using command hooks. There really are a number of uses for this simple organizing tool. I have compiled several uses for these from other bloggers to give you an idea of how this simple, inexpensive thing can get you organized easily. 

The possibilities are endless, but one of my favorite ways to use these is to organize toys.  You can use them in your child’s bedroom or in a playroom.  For years, my daughter had one on the back of her closet door that we used to store Barbie Dolls and all the accessories that come with them.  All those little shoes, clothes, and other tiny pieces were organized and stored in there.  They were easy to see, easy to access, and easy for her to clean up. You could also use them for things like Matchbox cars, Shopkins, LOL dolls, action figures, and more.  My girls collect the small Beanie Boos, and this would be a great way to store them or other stuffed animals as well. You could even use them for Legos and sort them in the pockets by color or shape. 

Another way I have used them before is for long vacations.  We once did a 10 day trip to Disney, and I packed one of these organizers in my suitcase. We used it to hold everyone’s toiletries and things so that they weren’t taking up space on the one bathroom sink that we had.  Yes, I know I am weird, but it worked.  It kept the bathroom neat and tidy for the whole trip.  I have also seen people take them on cruises.

These are also great for use in the kitchen. You can hang them on your pantry door or somewhere else in the kitchen.  You can even hang small ones on the back of cabinet doors. You can use it for snacks, spices, kitchen utensils, food packetswater bottles, and more. 

Check out these other uses too. The possibilities really are endless.

Office Supplies-Source
Hair Supplies-Source
School Supplies-Source
Coat Closet-Source
Cleaning Supplies-Source

As you can see there are tons of uses for these shoe organizers. You can even hit up Pinterest for even more ideas, including a spice garden.

Anchored and Organized,

Disney Packing List

As I have mentioned before, my family and I have been to Disney World many times over the years. It has been a favorite for us for many years.  I feel like we are kind of pros at it by now.  I always have people asking me what they should pack for Disney. I know that before I headed to Disney for the first time with my kids years ago, I was all over Pinterest looking for tips and tricks and what to pack.  I read blog after blog of all the things that people suggested that you bring.  I remember making this massive list of things that I needed to pack before we went on that first trip as a family. Our suitcases were filled to the max.  Then, I ended up carrying this massive backpack loaded down with so much stuff that I was miserable at the parks each day.  My back and shoulders ached every day from lugging that heavy thing around.  What I have come to learn over the years was that I really didn’t need as much stuff as I packed or that I was carrying around.  Yes, when your kids are younger, you are going to need more things.  I totally get that, but you don’t have to bring 10 million things just because you think you might need it.  I have compiled a list of the essentials that I think you really need, but just know that you have to figure out what is best for your family.  Not all of these are things that you will carry with you to the parks.  Some are things that will be helpful in the hotel. I have come to learn that less is more. You really don’t need everything that everyone suggests you bring.  I promise! 

1. Anti-Friction Stick (Amazon)

This is the #1 thing that I make sure we have each trip besides sunscreen.  When I first started using one of these, Johnson and Johnson carried something called Band-Aid Blister Block, which I loved. You can no longer find it in stores, and it is ridiculously priced on ebay and Amazon now.  However, any kind of anti-friction stick will work the same way, like the Dr. Scholl’s one above.  I didn’t learn this trick until after we had been to Disney a few times.  If you have never been there, please note that you are going to be walking for miles every day that you are there.  Your feet are going to hurt and they are going to get blisters.  That first Disney trip, we were all wearing Band-Aids all over our feet because we had so many blisters.  Since I discovered the blister block, we never get blisters when we go anymore.  You just rub it all over your feet and toes on the top, bottom and sides, put on your socks and shoes, and then you will be good to go.  This stuff is amazing.  

2. Tennis Shoes (Under Armour)

I will tell you that my opinion is that the best shoes to wear at Disney are athletic tennis shoes with socks.  Some would argue with me, but I have found no other shoe that works better for all the walking you will be doing. You do not want to wear shoes that will easily come off on rides like flip flops.  You want a shoe that is supporting your feet and ankles, that won’t cause blisters (don’t go with brand new shoes that have never been worn), and that are comfortable. There are lots of water rides where you will get soaked and your shoes will get wet. Plus, it rains daily in Florida, even if only briefly, and your shoes will get wet. No one likes walking around in wet shoes every day. I personally bring a back-up pair of shoes with me that I keep at the hotel in case my shoes aren’t dry by the next day.  That is totally a personal preference, though. These  Under Armour sneakers are my favorite right now.

3. Extra Socks (Amazon)

For the same reasons as listed above, make sure that you bring extra pairs of socks.  Your socks will get wet! I typically pack 2 more pairs that the number of days we will be there. You can choose to bring them with you in the park if you are someone that hates having wet socks like me or you can just have spares in your suitcase in your hotel.

4. Ponchos (Dollar Tree)

As I mentioned, it always rains in Florida! I don’t think that there has ever been a time when we were at Disney that it hasn’t rained at least once while we are at the parks.  Just this past weekend, it rained 3 days that we were there. I highly recommend that you go to your local dollar store and buy multiple packs of the cheap ponchos.  Trust me, you don’t want to have to buy a super expensive poncho in the parks! You have two options when it comes to dealing with wet ponchos. You can either bring zip lock bags (or plastic grocery bags) to put the wet ones in when you no longer need them, or you can buy multiple and just throw the used ones away when done with them.  Either way works.  I do not recommend that you bring an umbrella.  There are just too many people around to carry an umbrella, and it just adds weight to your backpack. 

5. Sunscreen (R+F) and Face Stick (Amazon)

This is right at the top of the list with the anti-friction stick. They probably tie for first.  You are in FLORIDA, the SUNSHINE state! You will need sunscreen.  It is essential to apply is every morning before you leave for the parks, reapply it at lunch, and then reapply it again in the afternoon. Sunscreen is ESSENTIAL! I cannot stress this enough.  I recommend an SPF of 30 or higher.  If you use anything lower, you will get burned, especially if you don’t reapply. My favorite sunscreen is Rodan + Fields Essentials Body Sunscreen.  It has a light, airy feel to it.  It doesn’t go on thick and it doesn’t make you feel slimy. I prefer to use a face stick sunscreen for my kids’ faces.  I do not recommend spray sunscreens for a couple of reasons. First, they tend to leak and get all over stuff in your bag.  Second, they do not provide as good of coverage as liquid sunscreens do. You will miss spots with a spray.  Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears and in the part of your hair.  Those places are prime spots for sunburns that people often forget.  

6. Cooling Towels

Disney has Mickey and Minnie cooling towels that you can purchase in the parks.  They do cost a little more but I highly recommend them. I have seen others recommend the Frogg Togg Chilly Pads (Amazon), which are good, but I do not like them as much as the ones that you can get in the parks.  I don’t like the feel of the Frogg Togg (Amazon) ones or the fact that they get super stiff when they aren’t wet.  No matter which you get, I recommend that you have at least 2 of some kind of cooling towel. It is HOT in Florida! You can get over heated, even in the winter months.  These towels really help to keep your body temperature down.  My kids absolutely love using them.  As you can see, my oldest loves tying hers around her head to keep her head cool, and my youngest likes it draped around her shoulders.  Make sure that you bring them in a zip lock bag so that you can store them back in it without getting your bag wet.

7. Hand-sanitizer clipped to Back Pack (Amazon)

You will need hand-sanitizer.  When you eat lunch or grab a quick snack in the parks, you will want to wash your hands. Clipping it to the outside of your bag makes it much easier to locate whenever you need it.  I promise you that it will be often! 

8. Band-Aids (Target)

A small thing of Band-Aids like this one is all that you need. I do recommend this flexible fabric kind as well.  They hold well in the most tricky of spots even when wet.  If you need anything larger or more than this package contains, there are first aid stations in every park, and they are extremely kind and helpful.  We had to go to one when my nephew was stung by a bee, and the staff there was amazing with him.  

9. Portable Charger (Amazon)

This is essential! I do not recommend that you bring a camera with you to Disney.  It is just one more bulky, heavy thing to carry and keep up with. Trust me, I carried around my big heavy camera for years. It isn’t worth it. This means that you will be taking lots of pictures with your phone. You will be checking ride wait times on your phone.  You will be handing your phone over to little ones for entertainment in long lines. Trust me, you will be using your phone a lot so your battery will get low and you will need to charge it.  A good portable charger is essential! This is the one that I have, and it works great and holds a charge for a long time. 

10. Multi-port USB wall charger (Amazon)

If your family is like mine, you have multiple devices that you need to charge at night including your portable charger from above.  It is nice to have a multi-port USB wall charger that you can easily use to charge multiple devices. These work great to charge phones, watches, portable chargers, and tablets all at once in your room over night. 

11. Sunglasses with Straps (Amazon)

Again, Florida is the sunshine state, and you will want to have your sunglasses with you at all times.  I highly recommend that you also have a strap on your sunglasses so you can easily just let them hang around your neck as you go inside or are waiting in line inside somewhere.  The strap is also good for rides to keep your sunglasses from flying off.  

12. Travel Tissues (Amazon)

I always bring one thing of travel tissues because it is inevitable that someone is going to need one every time that we go.  I have told you before about my hypersensitivity to sounds and sniffling is one of those sounds that makes me nuts.  I like to have tissues on hand for anyone I hear sniffling. 

13. Stroller Fan (Amazon)

If you have small children and you will be using a stroller, I highly recommend that you get a clip on stroller fan.  It will help to keep your little one cool. How cute is this lion one?

14. Ribbon or Scarf for Stroller

Another thing that you will need if you are using a stroller is a brightly colored ribbon or scarf that you can tie around the handle of the stroller. This will allow you to easily find it in a sea of strollers when you park it for a ride.  My brother-in-law even put his favorite college flag on his stroller which could be spotted a long way away.

15. Breakfast Foods

When we lived close enough to drive to Disney, I always packed breakfast foods, plastic utensils, and bowls. When we fly to Disney, I will go to a store nearby and grab a few breakfast items.  I have found that it saves time and money if we eat breakfast in our hotel room before heading to the parks.  You could have yogurt, cereal, milk, muffins, pop tarts, fruit, etc. to eat in your hotel room.  

16. Small Convertible Backpack (Vera Bradley)

For the things that I carry into the park, I like to use a small backpack purse.  I do not like using a big regular sized backpack because it is cumbersome and can get heavy.  I also like ones that can be converted into a crossbody bag as well.  This one from Vera Bradley would make a great bag to take to Disney.  

These things are the things that I think are essential for a successful Disney trip.  Now, some may say to pack many other things including snacks and water.  I have done that many times.  However, it is more stuff to carry and my kids inevitably would rather have a Disney snack over anything that I brought anyway. The other things that others suggest are all great but I don’t think that are absolutely necessary. Now, use what I have suggested as a guide based on your family’s needs. These are just the things that work for my family. Obviously, you will need to pack essentials like clothes, toiletries, swim suits, etc. These are just the things that I think are extra that will make your trip smooth, easy, and fun. After all, it is the place where dreams come true!

Anchored,

Top 3 Packing Tips

Happy May Day! Can you believe that May is here already? I know that the first official day of summer is not until late June, but May has always symbolized the beginning of summer for me.  I think that is because I grew up in the south where school always got out before Memorial Day for Summer Break.  The weather here still hasn’t made up its mind on spring or winter.  We had temps in the 30’s Monday morning and then the high tomorrow is 86 degrees.  Either way, we are headed to Florida in the morning for the big cheer competition where it is certain to be H.O.T. I don’t know if I am ready to be back in the heat of Florida.  I know that it hasn’t even been a year since we lived there, but I very much enjoy not having those crazy hot days.  Since we will be cheering and visiting my favorite characters over the next few days, this will be my last post until next Tuesday.  

Today I want to talk about organization for packing since that is what I am going to be doing today.  We have traveled a lot over the last few years, and I think I have gotten packing down to a science.  They key is to be organized. Don’t wait until mere hours before you leave to start the process. Don’t be a procrastinator. Also, don’t just throw things into a suitcase. You are bound to forget something that way.  You have to think it through and plan it out ahead of time.  Here are my top 3 tips to keep you on track and put-together when packing for a trip.  

1. Packing List

The one thing that helps me most of all is a list.  Whenever we are going on a trip whether it is just a few hours down the road in the car or states away on a plane, I start making a packing list several days before we leave.  I keep this running list on my phone so that whenever I think of something that we need to bring, I have the list easily accessible to me wherever I am.  Nothing is too inconsequential to put on the list, including underwear.  I even have my list divided into family member.  Then I list every single thing  (and how many) that family member needs to bring.  This also makes it easier for when my kids are helping pack. I just cut and paste their part of the list into a text message for them, and then they can easily bring me all of the items on the list so that I can add them to the suitcase. Having a list really does make packing easier, quicker, and more organized.  

2. Zip Lock Bags

My second tip for organized packing, especially with kids, is to use gallon zip lock bags to organize each outfit for each day of the trip.  This is something that I started doing for my kids the very first time that we ever went to Disney World when they were really little, and I still do it now that they are older no matter where we go.  First, I will plan out what outfit each of us will wear each day.  Then I start making piles for each day of the trip.  I put everything we need to get dressed for that day in the pile (pants, top, underwear, socks, etc.). When my kids were younger, this even included the bow for their hair that day. Then I use gallon zip lock bags to keep all of those things together in the suitcase.  I label each bag with my daughter’s name and the day of the week she will be wearing it.  Each child will have a zip lock bag for each day of the trip. This is a little time consuming on the front end, but it saves so much time during the trip.  All they have to do is pull out the bag for that day, take it to the bathroom, and get dressed. This method also ensures that we don’t forget any essential items.  I also pack another zip lock bag with their pajamas for the trip and another one for extras (extra underwear, socks, or even an extra outfit) for those emergency situations.  If the trip involves swimming, there will be a separate bag each for bathing suits, bathing suit cover-ups, and flip flops. This not only keeps you organized, it also really helps to save space in the suitcase.  I just line up the bags in rows in the suitcase. 

3. Travel-Sized Toiletries

My third tip is to use travel-sized toiletries and keep a supply of them at your house.  You should never take full sized bottles of things like toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, shaving cream, contact solution, etc. That is just a waste of space.  I keep a plastic box in the bottom of my linen closet that I have tons of travel-sized items in so that we can replenish our travel bags at any time.  This keeps me from having to make that emergency trip to the store at the last minute to buy stuff. Each of my girls and I have a small travel cosmetic bag that pretty much is only used for travel and stores all of their travel essentials.  In each bag we keep a travel toothbrush and other travel sized toiletries.  All I have to do is tell them to bring me their travel bags and everything is already packed. I just double-check that they aren’t low on anything and replenish it from the box as needed.  Again, this just makes packing faster and easier.  Now, if you don’t want to spend the money to buy travel-sized shampoos or your favorite brand doesn’t come in travel size, you can always get the travel-sized containers and fill them up with your faves.  That is totally a personal preference.  Just don’t pack full sized bottles.  Here is a bonus tip that I read on a blog somewhere years ago that I still use now. I have a special scented body wash that I only use when traveling.  It is one from Bath and Body Works that I love, but it isn’t the one that I use everyday. The reason I do this is because that smell now reminds me of family vacations and trips.  It is like a treat every time I open the bottle while we are away. It just floods me with memories each time, and I love it.  It is forever a scent that I will associate with great memories!

Those are my top 3 tips that will help you to pack quickly and easily all while still being very organized. I am now off to get my family packed and ready to leave tomorrow.  I will see you all back here next week. Pray that I survive my first major cheer competition and the heat of Florida! I have no clue what we are in store for.  One thing is for sure, we will be making more great family memories.  

Anchored and Organized,

Final House Renovations

We have officially had two nights in the new house, and I can’t tell you enough what a relief that is. Yes, we are still living out of boxes and stuff is everywhere, but I am trying to focus on one room at a time and not kill myself.  We are slowly getting there, but it is going to take some time to find a home for everything.  The kitchen and dining room are finished.  The master bedroom is done except the closets and putting things back into drawers. The guest room is completely finished.  The formal living room was done, but now it is currently housing everything that goes in my husband’s office. The rest of the rooms are still works in progress in various stages.  I know it will all get done, and I am surprisingly not stressed about it.  I think I am still so exhausted from the actual move and renovations, that I am just happy to be here.  I am sure my OCD will kick in over the next couple of days, and I will be back in panic mode to get it all done.  Anyway, I promised you all an update on the renovations completed with pictures, so here it is! I know that you have seen some already, but I wanted to put them all here in one place to show the completed projects. All of the before pictures were from the original house listing by a professional photographer. Clearly my after pictures are not taken by a professional!

Floors

As I have mentioned before, I really wanted darker floors than what was in the house originally.  I just felt like the color that they were to begin with was a little outdated and not as warm as I would have liked.  While the whole process what a disaster with all of the dust and mess it caused all over the house, the end product is well worth it. I am so in love with the floors. They turned out just like I wanted.  You can read more about the floor renovations here.

Main Staircase

I know that I have already shown you the stairs, but in case you missed it, here they are again. As you can see in the before picture, these stairs had a carpet runner and the wood was stained a light shade.  I really wanted darker floors and my husband really wanted the carpet gone.  I am so happy with how well they turned out. 

Kitchen

When we looked at this house from the very beginning, the one major thing that I disliked was the kitchen.  I didn’t like the color of the cabinets in conjunction with the floor.  I also didn’t like the color of the countertops or the backsplash.  It just didn’t go together to me.  I really wanted to do a full kitchen remodel, but my husband and budget didn’t allow that. Once the floors were darkened, the cabinets really didn’t match.  I hated it. Rather than buying and installing new cabinets, my husband and I compromised and agreed to paint them white. We were both a little nervous about painting them ourselves, but we decided to give it a try anyway.  You guys, with the cabinets painted white and the floors darkened, it looks like a totally different kitchen.  While I still don’t love the counter tops and backsplash, they both look a million times better with the white cabinets.  I can live with them for a couple of years! I am just so excited about how it all turned out.  I think it looks amazing, and I love it so much!

Bedrooms

Two of the bedrooms HAD to be painted because they were painted bright colors that just weren’t our style. One had a wallpaper border and the other had sponge painted flowers and butterflies on it. My youngest daughter picked out new bedding for her birthday present and was allowed to choose the color she wanted her room painted.  She chose a coral-pink color to match her bedding.  It would not have been my first choice for bedding or paint color, but we felt like it would help her with the transition if she was involved in choosing what she wanted.  We painted the other room a warm grey which I love.  Then we allowed my oldest to choose the color she wanted in her room. Of course the child that is interested in interior design and architecture chose three different shades of teal.  She wanted her room to be ombré! Her father shockingly agreed to this. Guess what, though? He wasn’t the one who was doing the painting! It was all on me! I convinced her to only do one wall in the three colors and she chose the middle shade for the rest of the walls.  I ended up watching several videos on Pinterest and YouTube to figure out how to do an ombré wall.  Let me tell you…NEVER try to do it yourself! I think I painted the dumb wall like 9 times trying to make it work right using 9 different techniques.  I wish I would have taken pictures of each attempt because it was so bad, but I only ended up capturing the last attempt which was the best looking of all the attempts.  It still looked HORRIBLE, though! The picture even makes it look better than it was in reality. I finally gave up and convinced my daughter that I couldn’t do it, so I ended up just painting three stripes. I actually think that the stripes look good.  I think she is happy with it despite it not being exactly what she wanted.  At least she knows better than to complain to me about it after I worked on it for three days straight!

Closet

I did a whole post about how we turned an awkward sitting room into my dream closet with help from Closet America.  You can check it out here.  I just wanted to show you a picture of what it looks like at the moment while I figure out how I want it organized. It’s a mess!  Clothes were hung with no rhyme or reason. You all know that I like things color coded by style so that will definitely have to be fixed. My antique vanity hasn’t even made it in there yet because there is too much stuff in the way.  I cannot wait to get it all organized just the way I envisioned it! 

Mudroom

Unfortunately, I did not get a before picture of the mud room. It originally had a nook of wire baskets on one side and a low down coat rack on another wall. The walls were painted white but had scuffs and marks all over them. It almost looked like someone had colored on the walls with crayon. Anyway, we had the baskets taken town and the coat rack removed. Then we painted the walls a light grey and had Closet America install a storage bench with shelves and hooks when they installed my closet. I plan to add a cushion on the bench and put baskets on the shelves for storage. It is an awkward space that we turned into something useful.

Pantry

The pantry had some great storage in it already and was very spacious. However, something had been spilled all over the walls that wouldn’t wipe clean. We ended up taking all the shelving out and painting the walls the same light grey color as the rest of the kitchen. Then we put all of the shelving back in, and I added my basket organization system. Some of the baskets still need labels since I was able to add more with the larger pantry, but I am very happy with how it is organized. You can read more about my pantry organization system here.

Office

The final renovation that we did was adding carpet to the room in the basement that will eventually be my office.  The previous owner had used it as a woodworking shop and the floor was just concrete. I like to sit on the floor when I am crafting so I wanted soft carpet.  I know it’s not the typical office floor, but I don’t think it is going to be your typical office.  This room still has more renovations to go, including repairing drywall and painting. Unfortunately, they will have to wait a little bit.  

Well, that is all of the renovations in a nut shell. I really love how every project that we did turned out, and I cannot wait to get started on the next set of renovations once we save up some money.  I will keep you all posted when we start something new. Right now, the focus is just getting things unpacked and put away.  Then I will be back to sharing organization posts with you. I would love to hear what you think about what we have done so far.  

Anchored,

More Renovations

Main Entrance Before and After

To say that I am over the renovations is an understatement.  I am so ready to be done and moved in.  This whole move has been anticipated for so long, and we are all just ready to get there.  The hardwood floors are finally finished including the staircase and all of the handrails. It looks AMAZING! I am so happy with how it turned out.  This picture does not do it justice! It really changes the whole look of the house.  The kitchen cabinets are almost done.  The cabinets themselves are done, so we just have to finish with the final coat on all of the doors and drawers and rehang them.  My youngest has surprisingly been a huge help in the cabinet renovation.  She may be little and only 11 years old, but she sure knows how to work a paint roller. Those of you that know her may be shocked that she has the focus and willpower to actually do that, but it is true. If you give her a job so that she feels like a part of things and you give her lots of praise, she really can do good things.  That’s the kind of stuff that she thrives on.  The past two nights, I have painted the trim, and she has rolled the backsides of every single cabinet door. I must say that it looks really good. She has really been pushing back about the move because change is really hard for her. Having her take part in making the house our own is really helping calm her anxiety. 

The carpet was installed in my new basement office yesterday, and it looks so good. Even with no furniture in there, it has already helped with the sound in the room.  When it was just a concrete floor, it was very echo-y in there. I know some of you are wondering why I went with carpet instead of wood or laminate floors.  The answer to that is that when I am crafting or doing projects for my vinyl business, I sit on the floor. That’s just how I work best.  I wanted something cushy to sit on.  Plus, being in the basement means that it is typically a little cooler down there than it is in the rest of the house, so I didn’t want to be sitting on a cold floor. There is still a lot left to do in that room, but it is going to be a long-term project.  The previous owner had used the space as a woodworking shop.  There are large wooden shelves bolted to the walls, which will eventually have to come down. Then the walls will have to be repaired where the bolts were, along with another hole that is in another wall.  Once all of the walls are repaired, we will paint them. I am thinking about a nice warm grey color.  My dream is to have some built-ins for books and storage along one wall and a counter top with cabinets along another wall to use as workspace for my vinyl cutting machine and heat press.  I also have to get a desk for myself.  I have one already picked out from Ikea, but we just haven’t gotten it yet. We have a nice executive desk that will go in the office on the main level. That will be my husband’s office and a space where he stores all of his Navy plaques and memorabilia.  I have never had my own office so I cannot wait for it all to come together. 

Next up is painting the girls’ rooms and the guest room.  Those are the only rooms we are painting for now.  I am hoping that we can get all three done before we start the move-in process on Sunday, but my husband doesn’t think it’s going to happen. I am certainly going to do my best to get it done. It will be so much easier to paint all three rooms with no furniture in them.  My youngest has picked out her color (a light pinky coral) to match her new bedding that she got for her birthday.  My oldest has chosen three different shades of teal for her room.  She wants the main wall in her room to be painted all three colors in an ombre’ effect. That should be interesting since none of us have ever done that before.  I was shocked when my husband agreed to give it a try! I am already picturing in my head how badly this is going to go!  The rest of the walls will be just one of the colors.  We haven’t decided if we are going to use the lightest color or the medium color, yet. The guest room will likely be the same grey that the rest of the house is painted in.  It is pretty neutral.  It isn’t my first choice of greys as it is more of a cool grey and I like warm greys, but it will have to do. 

The only other project that I am really pushing for that my husband thinks we can wait on is the fireplace. I think I have told you all before that I hate it.  It has marble around it and a marble slab on the floor in front of it.  I have nothing against marble in general, but I can’t stand this one because it is an ugly green color.  It totally clashes with my décor.  I would love to add some stacked stones or white tiles. I also would like to get rid of the gold pieces as well. What I would really love and know is never going to happen is to cover that wall that the fireplace is on with shiplap. I think it would look so good!  I guess I am going to have to live with the green marble monster for a while, but I certainly am not going to be happy about it! 

We have been working so hard to get this new house the way we want it.  We are all tired and ready to be done.  I know it is miserable now, but I also know that it will all be totally worth it once we are moved in and living in it every day.  It will soon be our home.  I cannot wait! 

Anchored,

Renovations: Hardwood Floors

Well, my purge has temporarily been halted yet again.  I have been spending all day, every day at the new house this week because the guys are here refinishing the hardwood floors.  I will say that it has not been pleasant, but I am trying to make the most of it.  I have been confined to the basement as they have blocked off all entrances to any other room in the house on the main level and the upstairs (one staircase is getting refinished as well and the other is blocked).  Mind you, we still haven’t moved anything over here so I am set up with a small card table and a tailgating chair and that’s it.  The first day was miserable because they were sanding all day.  It was very loud and the amount of dust it generated is indescribable.  I had a headache by the time I left that evening, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe for most of the day from inhaling all the dust.   Yesterday, there was a little more sanding, and then they began the staining process. It also had a really strong smell that gave me another headache.  I think I have mentioned before that strong smells are one of the big things that trigger my migraines.  Needless to say, the sanding smell and the stain smell were very strong, even down in the basement with the door closed and the entrance down here sealed with plastic. I have had to go around to the back of the house and down to the basement door in the backyard to even get in here.  I’m just so thankful that I have that option because I don’t know what I would do if I had to sit upstairs in the midst of it all.  

If the smells triggering the headaches wasn’t bad enough, they have had the heat turned off while they are working (1stday was so it wouldn’t stir all the dust around) and multiple windows and doors open the entire time.  It is still pretty cold here (currently 29 degrees), and I am in the basement so I have been freezing to death every day.  I had one blanket here on Monday just because I thought it might be cold (I had no idea they would have to turn the heat off), but it didn’t make a difference at all.  I was so cold. Yesterday, I brought another blanket and dressed warmer.  It still didn’t help.  It was miserable.  I looked like an Eskimo all wrapped up in my blankets.  When I got here this morning, the thermostat in the house said it was 42 degrees on the main level so I am certain it is even less than that in the basement.  I thought I was being smart today and found an old space heater that we had years ago and brought it with me.  I am sad to report that it no longer works!  So much for that brilliant idea! I guess I’ll just be cold again today.  

Despite all of the challenges, I couldn’t be happier with how it is going.  See, I am choosing to find joy in the misery! LOL!  The workers have been extremely nice, despite the fact that they don’t speak English very well, so I have to keep asking them to repeat themselves a million times.  I know they have to be annoyed with me, but they don’t let it show.  They have done an amazing job so far.  I am so pleased with how it is turning out. When we bought the house, there was a large section of the hardwood in the sunroom that had been destroyed by the previous owners, and it had to be fixed.  We decided not to ask the previous owners to fix it themselves and instead took some money off of our offer so that we could get the floors done ourselves.  We figured if that part had to be redone anyway, why not redo all of it and stain it a color that I preferred.  It was a light brown color that I really wasn’t fond of.  The front staircase also had a carpet runner through the center of the steps that we wanted removed. As soon as we closed on the house we hired someone to get the job done before we moved in.  I really wanted the floors stained a dark color.  Let me tell you that picking the color from a small square sample is very nerve wracking.  I didn’t want it to be too black, but I also didn’t want it to be too brown like it was.  I know that doesn’t make sense, but it was so hard to choose.  I finally settled on a color and just prayed that it would turn out the way I envisioned it in my head. When the guy called me upstairs to look at it yesterday once they had completed the sunroom part, I was so nervous.  You guys, I am obsessed! I love it so much.  It looks amazing! The finished product is going to be so worth the misery I have felt while it was being done.  I cannot wait to see it all completed. It is going to totally change the look and feel of the house for the better. The pictures below don’t even do it justice. It is so pretty!

 

Each day I have made my stint in the basement a little more comfortable.  Today I have my two blankets and warm clothes, food, water, tissues, music playing, and my diffuser going with a nice refreshing blend (I am hoping it will help with the smell of the polyurethane today and keep me chill). I’ve got my computer for working, my iPad to watch a show if I run out of things to do, and I have my book club book that I am trying to finish up before Friday’s review.  As I sit here now waiting for the guys to arrive this morning, I am thankful that my husband went along with my crazy idea to stain the floors darker, and I am daydreaming about how it is all gone to look once it all comes together with our stuff here.  I am also secretly planning out the renovation of my new office down here in the basement (shhhh…don’t tell my husband). Haha! Just kidding! He knows that I am scheming, but I know that it has to wait a while.  I can still dream, though, right?

Anchored,  

Organization: Closet Makeover

The day has finally come where I reveal my new closet! I know you guys are probably getting tired of hearing about it, but I can’t help it.  I am so in love.  I will start by saying that I highly recommend Closet America.  They were so great to work with from the designer to customer service to the installers.  It was a great experience, and I would totally use them again.  The finished product came together last week, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  It looks exactly the way I had envisioned it in my head.  It is going to make organizing all of my things so easy.  We went with white for a couple of reasons.  One is that I like the nice clean look of the white, and the second reason is because it was the least expensive.  The natural light from the windows in the room in conjunction with the white, really brightens the space. 

As you walk into the room, you see the island and shoe rack right away.  I am so obsessed with the island.  There are 4 drawers on each side of it, and I am not 100% sure what I will put in all of them yet. I am thinking it will probably hold jeans, leggings, and t-shirts. The top drawer on one side has double layer jewelry trays.  It is one of my favorite things in the room.  All of the drawers have the slow automatic close when you push them slightly, which is really nice. Then the giant shoe rack is right behind the island between the two windows.  I am super excited about it.  My shoes are going to look so good displayed on it.  

The wall to the immediate left (same wall as doorway) when you walk into the room is currently blank. It will be the location of my antique vanity with a mirror.  It fits perfectly into that space.  The left side of the closet contains shelving and clothes racks for various lengths of clothes.  The shelves are adjustable so I can make them larger or smaller depending on what I decided to put there. Again, I am not certain how I will organize everything until I get it all in there and see how it flows.  I may remove one of the bottom shelves and use that space for my tall boots.

The wall to the immediate right when you walk in (same wall as doorway) has a tall tower of shelves. This is where I plan to put my purses and bags for display.  There is also a pull out valet rod for hanging clothes for when I am pulling outfits to photograph or to prepare for then next day or even when I am packing.  

The right side of the closet contains more hanging space with a few shelves. This is where the bulk of my clothes will be hanging.  As you can see the racks are various lengths to accommodate dresses and things that are longer and things that are shorter in length.

The whole system is very clean, neat, and modern looking.  I really love that there is still plenty of space even with the island. I was worried that it would take up a lot of space and it would feel cramped, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. Of course there are a few things that we still need to do to the space for it to be complete.  At the top of the list is to put blinds on the windows so that I don’t give everyone in the neighborhood a good morning show every day! The second thing is to install some kind of chandelier because there is no overhead lighting in the space.  There is great light in there during the day from the windows, but I definitely need some lighting for the evenings or early mornings.  The one other thing that I want is a large, full-length mirror. Obviously, it is not going to be in there because there is no place to put it, but I need a full-length mirror somewhere.  Overall, I am very happy with how well it turned out and I can’t wait to get all of my clothes and accessories in there to see how it all comes together.  It really is an organizational freak’s dream come true! LOL! I absolutely love it!

Anchored and Organized,

Freedom from Possessions

Today is the day! Today is the day that we take possession of our new house from the previous owners who have been renting it from us since closing a couple of months ago.  I could not be more excited to get in there and start making it our home.  We are not moving in right away because we are having some work done there first.  I think I am most excited about tomorrow! Closet America is coming to turn a little sitting room in the master bedroom into my dream closet.  I cannot wait to see it all come together.  I have already met with a designer and designed it just the way I want it, and they are installing it tomorrow! If you are new to my blog, my closet is my sanctuary.  It is my happy place and the place I go to think, to have a mental breakdown, or just to get away from all the noise of life. It is a very important room for me. Closet America is also going to be transforming the mudroom into a functional space with a bench, coat hangers, and storage.  It is going to be amazing! I have never had a mudroom before and I am super excited about it.  It is pretty small, but it is big enough for our needs.  Then next week, we have someone coming in to remove the carpet runner from the main staircase and stain all of the wood flooring on the main level a darker color.  There was an area in the sunroom that had been destroyed by a rolling desk chair, so we had to refinish the floor there anyway.  Our thought was that since that had to be done, we might as well just go ahead and stain it all to a color that we preferred.  It is going to be gorgeous and give the house a much needed update. 

We are also planning to paint all of the kitchen cabinets white to give it a more modern feel and maybe add new hardware. We are going to attempt to do this ourselves.  I have been all over Pinterest looking for ideas and instructions on how to DIY it.  Hopefully, it will turn out the way I am envisioning it in my head. I want to eventually update the counter tops (I hate the current one) and backsplash, but that is going to have to be a project for later down the road (according to my husband). The only other thing that has to be done before we move is painting two of the bedrooms. They are currently painted pink and purple with a wallpaper boarder in one room and sponge-painted flowers all over the other bedroom.  That will not work for either of my girls.  We will likely do that painting ourselves as well.  I know we can handle painting the walls because we have done it many times before.  It’s just the cabinets that make me a little nervous.

Once all of these projects are done, we will begin the move-in process.  We have until the end of April to be out of our current rental so we have plenty of time to get everything moved over to the new house. We hope to be finished with all of the renovations by the end of March and then begin moving in at the beginning of April. I envision us loading up one room at a time and carrying it over and unpacking it before we move on to the next room. I am sure it won’t work quite as I plan, but that is what I am going to try to do.  

I am so thankful that I have been working on purging things over the past few months in preparation for the move.  I think it is going to make the move so much easier to manage. I am thankful for this blog because it really forced me to do the hard stuff so I could share it all with you. Getting rid of so many things has really been freeing.  I am far from finished, but I think I have really made a good dent in most rooms.  I have not yet finished the mound of teacher stuff that I talked about last week, but it is a lot to do.  I have the kitchen and office left to do, too.  Hopefully, I will get it done by the end of the month. Even if you aren’t about to move somewhere like me, I highly encourage everyone to go room-to-room and purge.  Think about the things that you own.  Do you really need them?  Are they bringing joy to your life or are your possessions weighing you down? I know that I was being weighed down by a lot of things. I was holding on to things for no other reason than to just hold on to them because I might need or want them one day in the future.  They were serving no real purpose in my life other than taking up space.  I had it in my head that it was okay to have all of this stuff because it was put away and it was organized.  You all know that I am all about being organized and having a system. All the organization in the world is not good if you are being ruled by what you own, by stuff. Go ahead and get rid of it! You don’t need it! 

What do you do with all of the stuff? If you need the money, there are tons of options that you can tap into to sale your items that you are letting go of.  You can sell on Facebook Marketplace. A lot of areas also have a resale Facebook group where you can sell things locally.  You could post it on ebay or Craig’s list.  You could sell it at a second hand store in your area. You could have a yard sale.  There are so many options.  However, if you don’t really need the money, I highly encourage you to donate. That is what I have been doing. Donate to a women’s shelter in your area. Some schools will take donations of children’s clothes for kids that need it or for the school nurse to keep for when kids have accidents or fall in the mud at school.  Organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation ArmySamaritan’s PurseThe Purple HeartDress for Success, and so many more all accept donations for a good cause. Some women’s groups will also accept donations.  Find an area of need in your community and help to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Free yourself from your possessions and make a difference for someone else!

Anchored,

Organization: Professional Purge

The time has come when I have to begin the purge of all of my teaching supplies.  Because I was a teacher for 17 years, I have accumulated A LOT of stuff.  You always hear that teachers have to spend their own money to decorate and supply their classrooms, and I am here to tell you that it is true.  Any decoration or poster or anything else found in my classroom over the years was either purchased by me or made by me.  As a special education teacher, many of the materials and books I used for teaching were also either purchased or created by me. I have probably spent several thousands of dollars and a countless number of hours on my class over the years. It is really sad that teachers are forced to do that, but I can tell you that I would do it all over again because I wanted the best for my students. I wanted anything that I could get my hands on that would help them.  I wouldn’t change that for the world.  Now, because I was a special education teacher and taught multiple grade levels at once, my collection of teaching tools grew exponentially each year. Every kid was different in what they needed and every year/group of kids was different. I would need different things to reach them.  I never wanted to get rid of things because I never knew when, or if, I would get another student that would have similar needs and be able to benefit from it.  Needless to say, I now have at least 50 boxes of school stuff that I have been carrying around since I quit teaching full-time almost 4 years ago.  

Since I know that I will not be returning to teaching, at least for now, I really do need to thoroughly go through every single item in every single box and get rid of things. There are so many things that I can likely take to local schools that other teachers could use.  It certainly isn’t doing me or anyone else any good for it to sit in my attic or basement taking up unnecessary space.  I have to really reduce the amount that I have.  It is time.  It is going to be really hard for me to let it go, but I know that it is something that I have to do.  We just don’t have the space for it. How do I even start? The task is so overwhelming to me that I have put it off for almost 4 years.  The pictures don’t even fully show the scope of how much stuff I have and need to go through.  I don’t even know how to determine what to keep and what to give away.  It is going to take me days to get through it all.  I have to do it.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  I honestly think that this purge is going to be the hardest one that I have done yet.  I thought that purging my clothes would be the hardest, but now that I have done that, I think this one will be the hardest. It will definitely take the longest amount of time to complete, that’s for sure. 

Is there another profession out there that requires you to have your own supplies and stuff? I don’t think I know of one that requires this extent of stuff.  Do other professionals hang on to things for years? Probably not! Why do teachers do it? I don’t know a single teacher that doesn’t. If you aren’t a teacher, you may not have professional things that need to be purged, but there is something that you are hanging on to that you need to let go.  Maybe it is memorabilia.  Maybe it is items from you college or high school years.  Maybe it is a crazy collection.  There is something. I encourage you to go thorough it and let stuff go.  If I can do it, so can you. As I have said before, I am learning not to be controlled by my possessions.  I am learning to let things go, and it is so freeing.  It is time.  Just make yourself do it because I know you can. 

Anchored and Organized,