Maximizing Under Sink Storage

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1. We use a plastic drawer organizer for plastic wrap, parchment paper, foil, sandwich bags, and freezer bags, etc. (this allows us to maximize space because we can store other cleaners on top).

2. We use a Lazy Susan for kitchen cleaners (so that nothing gets lost in the back).

3. We store our other household cleaning supplies in a portable tote

4. Our cleaning cloths and rags live in a small plastic basket behind the cleaning tote

5. I drape my dusting cloth and polishing rag over the sink drain pipe

6. There was just enough space in the middle for the garbage can liner box (turned on its side) and two containers of dishwasher pods (in the back)

Maximizing Linen Closet Storage

1. Store extra pillows on the very top shelf. This will allows you to use the ceiling height to your advantage, and if a pillow topples down on you, no big deal.

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2. Store extra blankets, quilts and comforters on the bottom.

3.  Fold your bath towels in thirds instead of halves (follow the same steps, minus the last fold, for hand towels)

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4. Fold hooded towels into neat little packages like this

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5. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet. There are a ton of great video tutorials on the web so I will refrain from reinventing the wheel. BHG has a great one.

6. Keep your wash cloths in a small basket. You can place this basket in front other linens which allows you to take full advantage of shelf depth without sacrificing accessibility to the item(s) behind.

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Trust me, the folding makes a difference :).

Confession: I learned how to properly fold a towel in the last year. To see what our linen closet looked like before, you can sneak a peak here.

 

 

I’m Starting a Support Group (with an enabled comment section)

Yesterday was a not-good-really-quite-bad-awful-kind-of-day.

Sydney woke up fussing, fussed through breakfast and then started pinching. She was in a foul, no good mood.

I decided we should spend the beautiful morning (IT’S FINALLY SPRING IN MN) outside. So I said, “Let’s go to the park.” Knowing that we didn’t have much time because the flooring installer was coming at 10 to fix our faulty, still quite new, floor.

I negotiated Rex out of his winter coat, and into spring appropriate outer wear, and then repeated the same process with footwear.

Sydney allowed me to put her shoes and coat on with minimal resistance, but then did the whole arched-back-stiff-as-a-board-collapse-in-a-fit-of-shrill-screaming thing when I tried to buckle her into the stroller. I won. Barely.

While at the park, I made the mistake of being the first one down the slide. Awesome. It looked like I peed my pants. We stayed for a bit, but not long enough in a certain someone’s opinion so I had to coax and negotiate with a whiny Rex most of the way home.

The rest of the day consisted of much of the same – negotiating, re-directing, whining, audible sighing on my part, and many other unpleasantries said in my head or under my breath.

When an exhausted Tyler got home from work, I was fit to be tied, and the kids were restless. Those three things in tandem, do not a happy home make.

We ate dinner (and if I’m being honest, we did not enjoy each others’ company), and then decided to take a walk to the park.

You can imagine about how well that went. I will spare you the not-good-really-quite-bad-awful-kind-of-day details.

Tyler and I argued (I’m using that term loosely) when we got home. Yes, in front of the kids. The kind of argument that leaves you both cursing your younger self for “choosing” each other and saying nasty things in your head. It was ugly. I cried…out of frustration, guilt, and sheer exhaustion. Commence shame spiral.

Sometimes, when I have a not-good-really-quite-bad-awful-kind-of-day, the only answer is to “sleep it off.” So that’s what I did. I slept…

But, I woke up (at 5 AM) with no more patience or perspective than I had yesterday…until I went to Target and wound up next to the mother of the toddler in a “I’ve-never-been-this-devastated-in-my-life” kind of tantrum. I wanted so badly to say, “Take heart. I’ve been there. This too shall pass. I’m not judging you,” but she wouldn’t make eye contact.

I imagine she cried when she got to her car. I say this because she looked on the verge of tears inside the store, and speaking from experience, that feeling only intensifies during the walk of shame out of the store.

While I, in no way shape or form, enjoyed watching her public torture, it was comforting to know that I am not alone…it’s not just my kids… or just my life. It’s all of us. We are all struggling [most days].

So, to that end, I’m starting a support group :). We can meet at the grocery store…the library…Target…the mall. Heck, we can meet right here on this blog. We can smile at each other and say, “Take heart. I’ve been there. This too shall pass.” We can refrain from judgement and we will always be kind. We can share our not-good-really-quite-bad-awful-kind-of-day stories, NOT because misery loves company, but because EVERYONE is fighting some kind of battle and EVERYONE needs a cheering section.

Let’s start a support group called “Sometimes Life is Ridiculously Hard.” Let’s share our stories and cheer each other on.

I will start, “Hi. I’m Sarah. I’m a mom. I love my kids. Sometimes I fail. Last night, I fought with my husband in front of my kids.”

Shame Spiral

Shortly after their respective births, I assigned each of my children (whom I love with my whole heart) a name. He, Rex. She, Sydney.

I say these names with exhausting repetition each and everyday. “Rex, sit here. Sydney, don’t put that in your mouth. Rex, please stop. Sydney, eat your food.”

Some days, however, are different. Today was one of those days.

Sydney started the day “Sydney.” By mid morning Sydney was “she” (as in “she’s really fussy”) and by dinner she was “it” (as in “it won’t stop crying!”)

I sincerely hope I am not alone in the name-to-pronoun morphing phenomenon because if I am, my fear that I’m not cut out for “this” becomes a very real possibility.

Anyway, I experience days when my little people wear me down. Today was one of those days.

Inevitably, when my children (whom I love with my whole heart) become pronouns, I shame spiral. “Why don’t I have enough patience?”… “Surely, I’m the worst mom on the planet (or at least MN).”…”I’m ruining them…” Etc. I then feel like a worthless parent and yell more. [Cringe]

Here’s the thing about shame spiraling though- It’s dumb and pointless and just another thing we parents do to torture ourselves.

Let’s stop.

My sister jokingly said not long ago, “they [her family] are always critical when I yell…they should really be proud of all the times I DON’T yell. That’s the real accomplishment.”

She’s on to something. Let’s flip the script.

So you forgot to pack lunch… I’d be willing to bet you usually remember to feed them…

So you said sh*%… At least you didn’t say f#%^ …

So you yelled at dinner… I bet you told them more than once already that you love them…

Bottom line: What we lack in perfection, we more than make up for with love.  There’s always more good than bad. We just need to train ourselves to look harder…and stop being so damn critical ;).

5 Tips for Maximizing Bathroom Storage

I think most of us can agree that how a day begins is a large predictor of how the rest of the day will go. Think about it. When you have a bad day, can’t you usually trace its origins back to the first couple of hours?

With that in mind, this post is going to focus on the place most days begin (the bathroom), and how I maximize our storage.

1. I keep my make-up and daily products stored “ready for travel.” This idea was “birthed” when I was packing my hospital bag before my youngest was born. I bought a travel organizer and I liked it so much, I just never unpacked. My organizer  simply hangs from an over the door hook. It is easy see and access my products, and when we do travel (not often), I just have to grab my organizer and a few things from the shower. (Admittedly, this won’t work for someone who has a lot of make-up.)

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2. Drawer organizers are used for toothbrushes, tooth paste and floss storage.

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3. Drawer organizers are also used for combs and brushes and  share a drawer with the Q-tips. (I know a lot of people put their Q-tips and cotton swabs in pretty decanters,  but if the packaging fits in the drawer and is easy to access, I don’t change it.)

Confession: hoarding brushes and combs used to be a serious problem for me. A few years back I threw away probably 15 combs and brushes that I didn’t use. Why I was hanging onto those unused combs and brushes like some poor soul from an episode of “hoarders” I still don’t know. I think I, like many, hate the idea of throwing something away that I spent money on, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned when purging drawers, cabinets and closets. DON’T BUY S%#* YOU DON’T NEED! No one needs 6 brushes, 4 picks, and 5 combs. Find one of each that you really like and purge the rest.

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2. Feminine products are stored in a small tote. For 7 days, this tote can be kept near the toilet; It can be tucked back under the counter for the other 20-some odd days.

3. First aid and seasonal products (sunscreen and bug spray) are also kept in clear, labeled, portable totes.

4. I am a huge fan of stackable, labeled drawer organizers for the purpose of categorizing like items and maximizing vertical space.

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5. My hair tools (hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron, etc.) are kept in a basket under my sink. I can pull it out when needed and tuck it back under when not.

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It goes without saying, but must be said – A clutter free, organized bathroom is SO MUCH EASIER to clean!

 

Maximizing Pantry Storage

I have always wanted a walk-in pantry, and it was on my must-have list when we were house hunting… I didn’t get one. Boo, hiss. But just because it’s not a walk-in doesn’t mean it can’t be super functional and organized.

Before

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Not bad. Fairly organized, but still in need of some “Type A” love.

It was in need of a fresh coat of paint, and the poorly functioning door, when opened, would close off the doorway to the dining room.

So, we emptied the pantry, removed the (poorly functioning) door, and gave it a fresh coat of paint.

I then tapped into my pantry’s full potential by…

1. grouping like items in durable plastic baskets (this allows me to take full advantage of the shelf depth without sacrificing accessibility

2. using drawer systems to organize our medicines and k-cups (this allows me to take full advantage of vertical space)

3. transferring our cereal to clear stackable containers

4. Using clear bins to store our pasta (I labeled them with the cooking times)

5. Using a tiered organizer for our canned goods

6. Utilizing a crate with a chalkboard front to store our potatoes and onions

7. Labeling!!!

After

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A clean, well organized pantry simplifies meal planning and eliminates over-buying. Win. Win.

 

 

 

Book Baskets

There’s no such thing as too many books, but there is such a thing as “too many books on the floor.”

If you have littles in your house, you probably have this problem too… books EVERYWHERE. First, I had them on a shelf… which Rex would clear in one fell swoop. Next, I had them in a cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind. So, I channeled my “inner teacher” and got a basket! It’s easy to see and choose the books, and even easier to put them away.

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Book baskets work!

Roasted Chicken

I roasted a chicken for the first time tonight and it was a capital S success. I scoured the Internet for a recipe that I liked and felt confident enough to try, but ended up making my own “hybrid” by using alittlebitofthisandalittlebitofthat from various recipes :).

What you need:
4-6 pound whole chicken (without neck and giblets). I used a “Just Bare” chicken
Kosher salt
Pepper
Garlic (4 cloves)
Lemon (1 cut crosswise)
Onion
A bunch of Thyme
2-3 tbsp butter (melted)

What you do:
Pre heat oven to 425 degrees
Peel and thickly slice two large onions
Spread the onions on the bottom of a cast iron Dutch oven (drizzle with olive oil)
(You could cut up some carrots too)
Rinse the chicken (inside and out) and pat it dry
Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper (don’t be shy)
Peel and smash (I use the broad side of my chooping knife) 4 cloves of garlic
Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and thyme
Truss the chicken (I had to watch a YouTube video by some guy named Jerry like a thousand times. It was kind of funny though so I didn’t mind.)
Place your chicken (breast up) on the bed of onions
Brush the chicken with the melted butter
Salt and pepper your bird (to taste…but liberally)
Roast your chicken (uncovered) for approximately 90 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 165 (in the thickest part of the thigh)… I had to YouTube that too…lol

And that, my friends, is how you roast a chicken!

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(says the girl who’s done it once).

Enjoy!

Shrimp Scampi Linguini

So good. So easy.

Ingredients:
Vegetable oil
3/4 pound whole grain linguine
3 T unsalted butter
2.5 T olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a large pot of boiling salted water (add a little oil so your pasta doesn’t stick), cook the pasta according to the package directions.

In a 12 inch skillet, melt the butter and olive oil on med/low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, 1.5 tsp kosher salt, and pepper and sauté (stirring often) until the shrimp are pink (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and parsley. Toss.

When the pasta is done, drain it and put it in a bowl. Add the shrimp and sauce. Toss well. Serve and enjoy!