Category Archives: organize

Real Talk… Time Saving Mom Hacks

Mom Hacks
Hacks. From shining your stainless steel with baby oil to the million uses for paper towel tubes – there’s a hack for almost everything. All of them have the same goal – to save TIME! So, let’s learn how to save some!

I’m a working Mom of twins who is essentially single (my husband works 12 hour shifts). I am also a tad obsessed when it comes to efficiency. It is a dichotomy of sorts; raising twins and being efficient. But…it can be done! So, let me share some of my favorite tips:

Time Analysis
First and foremost, you need to understand where you are wasting/ spending most of your time. Always looking for your keys? Invest in a key hook. Re-washing funky loads of laundry? Make laundry switches a part of your morning/ nightly routine (or, even better…enlist your husband to take over laundry 100%). But, the most important thing is to look for any patterns that result in time wasted – find just one and tackle it!
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The “On the Way” Principle
This one is easy and just entails a mind-set change. You’d be surprised at how much ground you cover in your home throughout the day/evening. I’d be willing to bet that you walk by your bathroom or laundry room at least 10 times a day. Why not make the trip worthwhile? Here’s what you do: keep your eyes open, observe what is in your surroundings. An old sock lingering in the hallway? Next time you walk down the hall, pick it up on your way to the laundry basket. That lone Lego under your foot…ouch! Put it in your pocket for the next time you pass the toy box. You’d be surprised how much the “On the Way” principle can limit or fully eliminate the amount of clutter in your house!

Bath Time
Your kids are young, it’s not safe to leave them in the tub unsupervised. As I sit and “watch” them, I feel like I am wasting so much time. Then it hit me! I could be cleaning the bathroom right now! I clean the toilet, floor, sink and mirrors all while my kids have a blast in the tub. Win-win-win!

For You Pumping Mamas
All the gear associated with pumping is unbelievable. Cords, flanges, membranes, tubes and bottles oh my! I pumped exclusively for my twins for 11 months. It was such a challenge! I’m going to give you two time-savers here…The first: only wash your pumping parts once a day. After you pump, put them in a big Ziploc bag and put that in the fridge. Then, at the end of the day – wash them. Next, buy a good hands free pumping bra. While you pump you can do many things with both hands! I chose to work and read. I even got into doing small crafts while pumping like a mo fo! Or, set an alarm on your phone and catch some zzzzz’s while you pump (but, don’t lay down)!

Potty Training
Oh the dreaded potty training phases! With my twins, it was double trouble! My son trained easily. My daughter…not so much. I was set on training them at the same time – regardless if they were both ready or not. Big mistake. I should have just gone with training him (since he was ready) and then training her at a later time. But, what’s done is done. I’ve spent loads of time cleaning underwear before throwing them in the washer. I couldn’t imagine throwing poopy pants into my sparkling washer. No way! There are three solutions to this poopy problem: 1) Keep a bucket of bleach water and dawn soap filled up. Throw them in (as soon as you can) and deal with them at the end of the day. 2) Get the soiled pants into water as soon as possible. It wipes off pretty easily if you catch it early. 3) Throw the underwear away. Sometimes it isn’t worth the effort. Also, stick a panty liner or pad in their underwear – this will help with small leaks/ accidents.

Take Advantage of the Dawn
Wake up 15-20 minutes before everyone else each day. Before you sleep the night before, have a plan for what you want to accomplish. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just a few minutes. Or, take that time to meditate to prepare for the chaos that is about to ensue! I did opposite of this when my twins were babies. I stayed up 15-20 minutes longer and wrapped things up for the day. Saved my sanity!

Lost Souls
Kids and their shoes…they are constantly getting lost. I was spending WAY too much time going on shoe searches. Then I came up with a very simple practice: Shoes go on in the car and they come off before we exit the car. I put a small basket on the floorboard of my car and I fill it with a few types of shoes per kid. Then, when we arrive at our destination – we put their shoes on. When we arrive back home – we take their shoes off. Never a lost “soul” again! Remember to keep a few types/ styles – that way you always have choices. I do keep one pair of crocs per kid inside the house; just so we have the option for impromptu walks or backyard jaunts.

Showers
If your kids are old enough, opt for a shower instead of a bath. It will afford you a bit of time to get some things done while they shower. But, only if they are old enough to not drown. My kids are 3 ½ and this works fine for us.

Phone Time
Do most of your calls in the car. Remember, always hands free and safe!

Instant Pot
Just get one.

Tablecloth On the Floor?
Yep, you read that right. Get a vinyl tablecloth and put it underneath their highchair. Then, roll it up and add it to your compost pile.

Pastry Cloths
Instead of using bibs, try out pastry cloths. I’m a fan of the IKEA sleeve bibs – but when they grow out of those, the pastry cloths work wonders! They are long enough to tie behind their heads and cover their knees. Then, throw them in the washer. They’ll be stained, but don’t fret!

Dishes Galore!
This one is non-negotiable…run and empty your dishwasher every night. Every. Single. Night. Then, instead of putting your dishes in the sink – just do a quick rinse and put them in the dishwasher. It is way less effort!!

Indoor Movie Theater!
When things get way out of control…and it will, I promise you. Put the kids in their car seats on the floor in front of a movie/ show. Strap them in and give them a snack and soothing toy. Car seats don’t have to just be for the car! But, remember to avoid neglecting them for too long – especially if they have a short attention span.

Color Assignment
If you have more than one kid and they are constantly losing things or fighting over things – just assign them a color. I assigned “green” to Gwen and “orange” to Owen (note the “G” and “O”). They naturally choose the items that are associated with “their” color and they are happy about it! It also saves time when trying to organize their personal items.

Bibs for the Babes!
You’ll save “loads” of time on laundry and outfit changes by using bibs. Switching out a bib instead of switching out an ENTIRE outfit is so much faster and easier!

Set up Multiple Changing Stations
This works well if you have a large house. You’ll spend way less time commuting through your house if you just put a changing station on each floor; or just add one more if that is too overwhelming.

Magic Erasers
Enough said.

Eat Outside
We try to eat outside as much as possible. It will save tons of time on cleaning and the frustrations with mess!

Paper Plates
Don’t fret about the waste, you can recycle them if you scrape off the food. Dishes…yuck.

Don’t Let it Dry!
Stuck on mess takes way longer to clean than to just clean it before it dries. I keep a separate rag for their eating surfaces and I only use non-chemical cleaners for those areas. Then, when your kids get older you can have them help you clean up!

Laundry
Just do it every day. Avoid laundry piles and don’t worry about folding the kids’ clothes – just throw them in bins for organization. I have a bin for pants, underwear, and pajamas – never fold those. I do hang up shirts, but that isn’t the most efficient. If you want to get really obsessed – go and buy a giant pack (or two) of white socks – all the same. Then you never have to pick out socks or find their match!

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Online Grocery Ordering
Clicklist has saved me so much time! Order your groceries online (you could do it while they bathe) and they’ll bring it to your car at the store. GENIUS!

Outing Bag
Keep a bag fully stocked in the car. Never waste time packing a bag. My favorite supplies are diapers, wipes, empty Ziploc bags (for garbage or soiled clothes), sunscreen, clothing changes, water bottles, hand sanitizer, blankets (muslin…they are small), and snacks that last. I loved my roll-up diaper caddy for when they were little. Now, we just have a backpack.

Potty Stops
I rarely take my kids into public restrooms. Instead, I bought a fold up potty that I keep in the car. Pull over on the side of the road, bust that out and use hand sanitizer. Done and done! If you have boys, even easier – they can pee in the gutter or grass. Dogs do it!

Childproof
Never spend time chasing the kids down in an unsafe environment. If you childproof everything, you can get things done while your little ones roam safely in your castle!

One of my favorite mom memes just because.

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This guest post is written by Leslie Killinger, full-time mom, wife, employee, artist and friend. She has twin toddlers and makes life look like a breeze.

Friday Finds

I try so hard to only get what is on my list when I go shopping. Sometimes I will find something I didn’t even know I needed and thus have to have! (OK maybe not NEED but desperately desire…) I have decided to share these adventures and finds with you. Thus begins my Fabulous Friday Finds! They may not all be fabulous so I’ll call them Friday finds.

Today’s find is brought to you from Target…  I was actually looking for something completely different when I saw this bad boy.  A skirt/trouser hanger! I was intrigued, I love my skirts but they take up so much space in my closet. For the price I figured it was worth a shot.

 

This is a section of my closet where I have pencil and circle skirts hanging. Yes I use those cheap store clip hangers but hey why not, they work. I save a bit on space by putting two skirts on one hanger.

Now I can get FIVE skirts on one hanger! WOOT! They are folded neatly over the bars. Which by the way, the bars unclip on one end and have a hinge on the other to avoid pulling multiple skirts off the hanger at once. Score!

As you can see my skirts are loving their new home and I am enjoying the new found space in my closet. Time to get a second or possibly third one for the rest of my skirts. Then what will I do with all of the empty space?

This find has been brought to you by my curiosity and desire to reorganize my closet every six months. It is in no way sponsored by Target or the Threshold company (I think that’s who makes this hanger…)

What are some of your favorite finds? Share them! Follow along for next weeks Friday Finds as well.

The Paint Brush Cover Review

A long time ago a boy met a girl and the boy’s furniture was never in the same place for more than one season out of the year. Poor guy! Well here we are seven years later and poor AJ still has to put up with my obsessive need to rearrange the furniture. Sometimes this includes painting! Now that we own our home, nothing is off limits! Walls, light fixtures, furniture, floors. Oh boy!

When we first moved into our home the walls were an off-white, almost yellow color. After moving the stove and fridge out for floor projects and doing deep cleanings the first year I have noticed the walls were originally white. Somehow over the years they turned into an almost smokers yellow. Gross! Clearly one of my many projects is to paint the walls in the house, all of them!

Recently I came across another Shark Tank product, Paint Brush Cover. These simple plastic containers are built for roller and regular paint brushes. The idea is to keep the brushes damp enough between coats so as to not have to wash and dry them. Sometimes I will start a paint job and, because life happens, not have time to finish what I started. Welcome into my life the Paint Brush Cover! When I received these to try out I was admittedly a bit skeptical. How well and how long could these containers keep the brushes in working condition?

The instructions and recommended times will vary depending on your environment and brush. For the sake of this review and to truly test the product, I of course did mine for a longer period of time. It drove my family nuts having these sitting around the house and me not finishing my paint projects.

I tested both brush holders and both worked as described. The moisture was locked in the brush cover with the brush keeping it ready. I was able to paint part of a wall, put the brush away for two weeks and pick it right back up where I left off without any troubles. The paint on the wall is blended in well. There is no telling where the project started and stopped.

No wasted paint, no messy spills, no worrying about getting the paint job done quick enough.

As you can see in the photos above, even after storing the brushes for several weeks they are still wet and moist enough for use. This is a huge win for me. I can not begin to tell you the amount of brushes and rollers I’ve had to throw away because they became too dry and brittle with paint.

Keep in mind these are not child proof containers, so keep stored wet brushes out of the reach of curious little fingers. They will be able to open these and you will find paint in places you did not want it. Check out the covers here and tell me what you think.

Quick Cleaning Tips

A lot of cleaning hacks and tips out there don’t work for our family. The products aren’t sold where we live. Sometimes the tips are faulty. Other times the hacks don’t work for us because we have well water. 

I found one trick for cleaning grime off of the cabinet doors, especially where fingers grab to open and close them. A simple washing soda, water, splash of vinegar and Dawn dish soap paste. All great cleaning ingredients. Scrub the area with a toothbrush or your finger tip and voila the grime is removed leaving you with pristine, looking like new cabinets. WRONG! 

I tested this on a few of our cabinets and the ones I tried it on ended up dirtier than the others, and faster! 

Look at the difference. So gross! Fail!!

Moving on…

Have you seen Magic White Erasers? Of course you have, unless you’ve been living under a rock. There are so many uses for these bad boys! My latest use is cleaning grease. Yep, grease. Our stove good gets gunked up and greasy. Of course I’m the “only one” who notices. I have tried sips and hot water, vinegar and Dawn, even the tip of cleaning grease with grease. This one you are suppose to be able to clean the grease off using oil and a rag. Sounded good in theory. Nope, didn’t work in my house. 

It was time to try something new. I had my trusty off-brand white erasers out cleaning fingerprints and smudges off of the walls when it hit me… this might just work! Yep I used the white eraser on the hood! It worked so well you guys, and it was EASY! Clean and easy? Psh sign me up! 

Seriously. Check those out! Forget harsh chemicals or mixing ingredients at home. Give me the white eraser any day! 

Another quick hack I’ll share with you is Dawnegar. I’ve mentioned mixing Dawn andvinegar before and not working. There are many other places it works fabulously, especially if you have hard well water like me. 

Well water leaves iron build ups which in turn looks like an orange rust. Over time it will take over your sinks, showers and tubs. Previously I would scrub my showers on cleaning day with various chemical products. They worked well but when a cleaning product comes with warnin labels such as “use in a ventilated area” or “wash hands immediately after use” I am a tad concerned. Little K is quick and likes to help me around the house. So he would be sticking his hands in the tub while in sprinkling or spraying the latest cleaning product. Not good. 

Enter Dawnegar, warm vinegar and Dawn blue dish soap mixed together. I use warm vinegar when creating the mix to help the soap mix well with the vinegar. Stick the solution in a scrub brush, like the ones used for washing dishes, and keep it in the shower. During your shower give the walls and floors a quick scrub and rinse off when you’re done! Do this once a week and no more iron or water build up in the shower! Done. 

Use these quick hacks to help get your cleaning done and enjoy your day! What are some quick and easy cleaning hacks you have tried and tested? 

StickerKid Review

Dirty dishes scattered across the counters, and more cups than there are people in the house! How does that happen? Lunch bins not making it back home? Shoes go missing? I am still trying to understand how that happens. Kids fighting over who’s toy it is, because you had to buy two of the same thing so they wouldn’t fight over it. Ugh the battles go on. Enter StickerKid to the rescue!

StickerKid is another SharkTank success story and based in the USA!

We received stickers for our family to try and review. The kids (ok me too) were pretty excited to create their own sticker labels. The process online for ordering was simple and straight forward. There was no question what our stickers would look like. You can see what you are creating live online as you make changes! Here’s what we ended up with. 


We chose a bundle and added a few extra sheets for everyone to have some. We have small name stickers for around the house and smaller items for the kids. Last name labels for our family items, in Army signal orange of course! 

K has a frog on his sticker labels for all of his items we take with us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left something at the gym or church and lost it forever 🙁 

Dawn has music notes on her DV red and black stickers, these are iron on labels which is good for her since she is in marching band. 

S has shoe stickers with a pink princess on a unicorn, on a pink background with pink writing of course. Are there other colors in the world? 

We put some stickers on S’s smock for art at school. Dawn has some of her dark blue small name labels in her marching band shoes (she lost them for over a week this year). 

 K will have some on his cups and toys. I’m excited to see how well they stand up to being washed but for now they are standing up to the usage. My kids are not gentle by any means so this is a win!

Well done StickerKid! Check out their products by clicking on their badge on the right hand side of my blog under affiliates. There’s something for everyone!

Creative Chalk

Running a household requires organization and I am admittedly not always the most organized. At times I have what I like to call an organized mess, sometimes on the desk, the kitchen counters or *gasp* the pool table! One thing we do is keep a running monthly calendar of everyone’s appointments, play dates, work schedules, etc. We were doing this on a large white board hanging in our hall. It works relatively well, only every quarter I find myself taking the entire thing down to scrub and purge.

While reorganizing our laundry room and storage I happened upon chalk markers. I had been looking for chalk and labels specifically for labeling storage bins, but I had never heard of or thought there was a chalk marker!

I found Debbie Lynn Hi Voltage neon chalk markers at Walmart for an average price. Bright neon colors on my black chalkboard painted pantry door? YES PLEASE! Before I got home I had plans for my new chalkboard calendar and all the bin labels I could find! Here are my pros and cons after one use.

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PROS
The markers have magnetic strips on the lids for easy and safe storage on a fridge.
The lid also has a built in eraser, great for quick small fixes.
The colors are neon! Neon + black chalkboard = eye popping color!
The chalk goes on wet and dries to a chalk like substance.
No more chalk dust on your hands!

CONSMy markers did not last labeling six bins.
Shaking the markers to make them work caused the erasers to fall out.
The magnets are not glued onto the lids as mine fell off the fridge and the magnets are lost.
The erasers are small and meant for small immediate erasing, not for complete removal.

I created my chalk calendar and had to resort to using only one color, pink, as the other two could not hold up. As is these colors are not vibrant, this is how I would expect to find the markers to perform at the end of their use, not the beginning.
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*I do have an email in to the customer service at Debbie Lynn Inc regarding these Hi Voltage chalk markers. When I receive a response I will update and let you know.

Always Something

As first time home buyers we really went into the entire homeowner process with blinders on. Something always needs to be fixed or we want to update a room or an appliance needs repair. As my Grandma says, “There’s always something.”

When we were looking at houses I knee I had to have the laundry on the main floor or on the floor with the rooms. I did not want a basement laundry room separate from the main living area. Luckily all our living space (for now) is on one floor.  What I have come to not like is the narrowness of the room.

The laundry room is off the garage, sharing a wall with the garage, one is an outside wall, another is the front room and the final wall shares piping with the hallway half bath. I would love to have it more open but that can’t happen without redoing the plumbing and I’m not ready for that. Besides I don’t think I’d want to give up the half bath. So I make do (first world problems I know).

Having unused walls and space makes me a little crazy in my on home. So I decided to take advantage of the laundry room bring off the garage and make the hall into the laundry a mud room while adding storage shelves in the actual laundry room.

I cleared out, cleaned, and organized
cleaning supplies, floors, first aid kits, and much more. I stripped the walls, moved the washer and dryer out of the way, scrubbed the floors and walls and still wasn’t happy. Unsure of a color I went with a simple white paint for the laundry room. I can always choose a color later but the dirty smoker yellow colored walls needed to go.

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Outside wall mid cleaning
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Fromt room wall mid painting

Do you see the difference in color?

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Shelves going up for storage

I now have the shelves completed and stocked with storage items. I couldn’t find the wall spackle to fill holes before finishing the paint job but the shared bathroom wall and shelves are finished. I love that everything is within an easy reach and visible now.

When I am completely finished I will do another post of the complete project. There’s always something, right?

Oven Cleaning

When was the last time you cleaned your oven? What do you use to clean it? How often do you clean it? Is it gas or electric? Do you have a self cleaning option?

Welcome to oven cleaning anonymous where we don’t judge how long it has been since you last cleaned your oven. Who really wants to get in there and clean the oven anyway? NOT ME! It has been at least 18 months since my oven was last good and cleaned. When it was cleaned I used Oven Off or Easy Off whatever that chemical clean oven in a can spray is called, lemon scented. Lemon scented chemicals…

Yesterday I decided enough was enough! I got off the bandwagon and pulled out all the stops (racks, pieces, doors, you get it). I pondered cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, or maybe even the chemical in a can, but then I remembered BKF! Yes Bar Keeper’s Friend! I have some on hand for getting the iron stains out of our bathroom (well water is spectacular for iron deposits). With cleaners, gloves, sponges and rags at hand I began taking apart the stove. First out were the racks and into a large trash bag with ammonia tied up and outside for a good soaking.

The bottom of my oven has what appears to be a lady scratched into the surface. This made me hesitate to use anything too abrasive as I didn’t want to make it worse. After three bowls of dirty water and barely making a dent I decided the sponge was too gentle. Out came the big guns, steel wool pads. First I used the softest I have 00, then upgraded to coarse, level 3 for removing paint and rust. Steel wool 03 and BKF was the ticket! Bye bye guck!

I didn’t get everything off as well as I had wanted but it was a definite start. To see the difference, the left side was after I had finished scrubbing and the right had not been touched yet. After scrubbing everything as well as I could (and breaking my oven light in the process) I put it all back together. I didn’t want to leave the chemicals in the oven so I ran the self cleaning option to burn any excess off. Hopefully it would also remove any stubborn stains I couldn’t get out with the elbow grease. It was my first time using a self cleaning option on an oven; I was not certain of what the results would be.

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That is one dang good looking clean oven! Now that I have scoured and completely cleaned the oven I will be using the self cleaning option more often. So much easier to keep something clean in the first place! UGH lesson learned on that one!

A Place for All Things

Hello, my name is Christina and I am a hoarder.

I’m not a hoarder to the point where I need serious intervention but I will admit I have a problem. I have been slowly purging things here and there from our home but nothing completely. My worst space is probably my attic. However I can find things tucked away in almost any room of my home. I do not like it!

A few days ago I mentioned Konmari, and a friend told me about A Bowl Full of Lemons. There are aspects of each method I want to incorporate. Maybe eventually I will be able to completely organize and decluter my home. For now I will take bits and pieces.

Let’s start in the closet. Our master bedroom closet currently houses clothes for myself, AJ, and Baby K. We have a five drawer dresser outside the closet as well. It is a tall dresser as opposed to a long vanity dresser. Most of our clothes are on hangers, making it easy to purge, but you know I don’t.

Konmari suggests dumping everything out of the closet completely and only putting back what you absolutely need/want. The book talks about emotional ties with items, and an item bringing happiness. If an item no longer brings you happiness and is in good using condition, donate it so it can bring happiness to someone else. Those aren’t the exact words, but the jist. Then sort into piles and organize back into the closet in a now clean organized manner. The point of this is to declutter (a lot) and simplify. I am all about simplifying but I don’t think Konmari understood the necessity of a four season wardrobe! I am not going to wear all of my clothes in a three or even six month time span.

Enter the Christina purge.

I have clothes I know I will probably never get rid of; my wedding dress and some ball gowns (hello! I’m an Army wife – we have to have those!) will always be lingering in the back of my closet.

Aside from those items I look through my clothes to determine what I really don’t like anymore. This yields maybe three items. Instead of dumping my clothes on the floor or the bed I turn my hangers around. WHAT!? Yes my hangers are backwards on my rods. As I wear my clothes (wash and hang them back up) the hanger is turned around the right way. This allows a visual of what I do and do not wear. After a year (again, four seasons!) Whatever items are remaining on backwards hangers MUST go. Now in the meantime if I find clothes still backwards and I won’t wear them, then out of the closet they go! Closet space is a precious commodity!

Bam, done! OK not quite. I treat each person’s clothes individually. Baby K isn’t going to be in his clothes long enough so I simply clean out clothes he has grown out of and put in a bin for storage (we plan on having one more). AJ’s clothes were the first to be hung backwards so his clothes are already purged and cleaned out.

Unfortunately while in the abyss (attic) I found three space saver storage bags packed full of clothes, my clothes. ugh! Those came down and were sorted thru. This I did as a dump and purge. Three packed bags became 1.5 bags now under my bed instead of in the abyss.

While my closet may not be up to ABFOL or Konmari standards, it is a start. Eventually there will be a place for all things and all things will be in their place.

 

New Blog

I’m haven’t been keeping up with the other blog and the support on my portable devices isn’t all that great so I’m starting a new blog here. My old blog is still up but won’t be updated anymore. Start following me here.

There is no set thing I’m blogging about just our lives. So here is a quick brief update:

1. AJ is almost done with school only 2 classes left! So proud of him!!

2. Little Ginger just turned 4!!

3. Dawn just started on the track team at school, we will see how that goes.

4. I taught my very first lesson in Relief Society on Sunday! New found respect there!!

5. I have been going to the gym, albeit on an irregular basis, but I’m going!