Under the Kitchen Sink

I wanted a quick project that was still forward progress in this process so I took some time to declutter the cabinet under our kitchen sink this weekend. It’s amazing the things you accumulate! Because I want this to be our final declutter (aside from maintenance declutters) I was ruthless in my approach. My process was pretty simple. Instead of looking for things to throw away, I decided what I wanted to keep because I actually use it… not plan to use, or might use, or should use. Only truly used items made the cut.

First, I took everything out of the cupboard, and wiped out the interior. Gross.file3-1

Then I went through each basket and bin, and put the items I use in one area and the items I don’t in another. I boxed/bagged the cleaning items I don’t use to take to the hazardous waste facility, and then went through my keep pile again. I culled my rag bin because it’s silly to have 25 cleaning rags, and I reordered my cleaning supplies. Instead of keeping my cleaning supplies under the sink, I decided to try a new approach. I put all of the cleaning supplies I use in a bucket and moved it to the laundry room. So, instead of gathering products when I clean, I can just grab the bucket and take it where I need it.

The only items that remain under the sink are kitchen related: Dish soap, rinse aid, dishwasher detergent, counter cleaner, garbage bags, our watering can (because our house plants are all on our main level), and our plastic wraps, parchment paper, foil, and ziploc bags. It is so much more streamlined now, and when I open the cupboard I don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff.


All of the general cleaning items I use throughout our house now live on a cart in our laundry room. It simply makes sense to keep it all in one place. We still have too many, but now that they are all in one place, I will stop buying duplicates :).

How do you store your cleaning supplies? Would love to hear your tips/tricks.





‘Lagom’ playroom

Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount” and it is my inspiration for our “kid cave” (AKA basement family room). I want my three kids to have enough toys for a variety of play options, but not so many that they can’t appreciate, love, or care for them. Simple enough, right? Right. Now, my idea of what’s “just the right amount” is likely different than many others, but that’s the beauty of any concept/idea – you can interpret it to suit yourself.

I’ve spent a lot of time observing my kids at play, and what I have noticed is that they generally gravitate towards the same types of play: dress-up, building, and role-play. So it seems logical to divide the toys we have into those categories and keep what they TRULY play with, following two simple rules:

  1. No duplicates
  2. Nothing broken or in disrepair

I won’t go over everything in minute detail, but at the end of the day, we boxed up…

  • duplicate and excessive
    • baby doll items
    • play kitchen/food items
    • Barbies and accessories
    • dress-up items
  • toys that simply aren’t played with
  • toys that are out-grown
  • toys in disrepair or broken condition

I’m not going to lie and say purging toys is ever easy. I have done it a thousand times (that’s an exaggeration), but I always confront the same demons. That voice that says…

“You paid good money for that.”


“That was a gift.”


“They might play with it someday.”

No. No. And No.

This time I reminded myself that I had to be ruthless, keeping the end-game in mind. Fewer toys translates to less cleaning up and more meaningful play.

Here’s what we wound up keeping:

We kept 5 dolls as well as the doll accessories that are truly played with, are good quality, and in good condition (this included the stroller, crib, and high chair). We kept the Duplo Lego table and legos. We also kept an assortment of books. The play kitchen as well as a bin of play kitchen items also made the cut. Despite being significantly pared down, we still kept a lot of Barbie stuff. I feel good about what we kept though because the Barbies are well loved, and what we kept gets played with. We kept the magna tiles and marble run, and we kept a bin of dress up items. We also kept a handful of items that don’t fall into our three “keep categories,” but are used and loved.

Going into any purge of kid stuff, I always let my kids participate and have some say in what they are ready to say goodbye to. My daughter is extremely good about letting things go, but my oldest son gets more attached to things. So, at the end of the day we also kept a bin of super heroes and WWE wrestlers that I can’t say truly get played with, but that my son wasn’t ready to part with. And while we slimmed our stuffed animal and toy vehicle collection, we still have several.

I’m really happy with our progress this weekend. While I am certain we kept more than we should have, I can say with full confidence that we definitely pared down, and this space is closer to my idea of “just the right amount” of toys.

I hope you found something useful in this post, and I would love to hear any tips you might have for creating/maintaining a “lagom” playroom.

Until next time, keep it simple.



P.S. Confession – I wasn’t up to the challenge of tackling our games and puzzles just yet. That is another closet for another day.

Simplify- Take 2


This one word has been my Everest for the last four years.

I want to simplify, and I need to simplify…

But my simplification journey over the past 4 years has been a lot of the same- purge, purchase, repeat.

Not effective.

Today I decided enough was enough. I’m done. I’m not spending one more hour cleaning/organizing/tidying. Once and for all, I am ridding this home of all the stuff that is stealing my peace, and I’m not bringing any of it back in.

I’m starting with the toys.

Stay tuned, friends!


I blinked

My youngest turned one last week. One!

cooper 1

12 months.

52 weeks.

365 days.

8,760 hours.

535,600 minutes.

31,536,000 seconds.

There are several ways to say it – none of them easy.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly love watching my children grow and learn, but birthdays are hard. With each one, they grow a little more independent… and need me a little less. Every birthday – a reminder – they are one year closer to leaving my nest.

My three are young, and that gives me solace…

three but they won’t always be. “Empty Nesters” keep reminding me of that! They say to me, “Enjoy them while they are little. You will miss this.” Trust me – I know how right they are. Look at how fast one year has gone!

I blinked!

17 blinks from now he will be graduating from high school!


17 blinks from now, his big brother will be 22.


His sister? 20!


Ouch. My heart.

17 blinks from now, this house will be quiet…

And clean.

I like “clean.”

I guess I will focus on that… and I will hold him during nap time…


for as long as he will let me.



Mom Jeans

My daughter and I went to pick up lunch today. As per the norm, I sported tennis shoes and mom jeans and my hair was pulled back. I know how I looked… like I’ve “let myself go”…

I wear tennis shoes ALOT. They may not be fashion forward, but they are comfortable and help my aching feet. Feet that ache because they’ve spent the bulk of the last four years pacing the floor trying to induce sleep, fetching water and snacks, catching little bodies about to fall, and chasing after little explorers in hot pursuit of anything (and everything) dangerous. Tennis shoes help.

I wear mom jeans. I swore I never would, but here I am – denim up to my belly button. They get the job done though. Truth be told: I lost my butt sometime during one of my pregnancies, and if it weren’t for my mom jeans, I’d be sporting a plumber’s crack daily. If I have to choose between mom butt and plumber’s crack, I’ll take mom butt.

I wear my hair pulled back almost everyday. The baby likes to grab handfuls of it as he’s pulling my face in for a kiss. Baby kisses are the best. They aren’t so much kisses though. In Cooper’s case it’s more akin to him trying to eat my face. It’s the best though, and no matter what kind of day I’m having those “kisses” make my heart feel as though it might just burst.

I am carrying at least thirty extra pounds these days. The number on the scale literally hurts my feelings, but it’s not all bad. My preschooler says I’m squishy… like a marshmallow. I’d like to lose the weight, but until I do, I’m going to enjoy the extra snuggles my “fluffiness” gets me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above lamenting the loss of my pre-baby body and hair, I just much prefer the mom version of me to the former me. I don’t have the time I used to. I no longer have empty hours to spend shaving my legs, tweezing my brows, polishing my toes, filing my nails, and smoothing stray hairs… and you know what? I don’t lament those empty hours because they were just that: empty.

This mommy stuff is hard. It’s an oftentimes thankless job…and sometimes it makes me feel invisible…but it simultaneously gives me purpose. My kids are the best things about me, and I will gladly stand in their shadow for the rest of my days… so long as I get to stand there in tennis shoes and mom jeans.

I didn’t really let myself go. I just became a mom.


Laundry: when something is just too hard…

It’s no secret, I really struggle to put our laundry away. It is not (or wasn’t) uncommon to find [in our master bedroom] several laundry baskets of folded clothes that never made it “home.” It just seemed so hard… so I avoided it… like the plague. So there the clothes sat, on the floor, mocking me day after day. Most mornings involved digging through said baskets for clean clothes, and most evenings involved digging for pajamas. Not fun… especially for yours truly whose Type A self loathes (seriously loathes) “digging” for anything. This particular “putting away laundry” problem was really wearing on me to the point that I “analyzed” the problem. In my former life as an EBD teacher, much of my job was to analyze and modify behavior. To do this, I had to dissect the problem as a whole: determine the antecedent (what happens first), the behavior (what the problematic behavior is), determine the consequence (what happens because of A and B), and finally come up with a plan for change. This is what I discovered about my laundry problem…


Laundry gets washed, dried and folded, but it is difficult to put away.


Because it is difficult to put away… I don’t put it away (pretty straight forward)


The folded laundry sits on the floor… inducing anxiety

When I took a moment to really look at the problem, I discovered that the solution was quite simple. I needed to make it easier to put the laundry away. Enter my new Elfa closet organizer. This thing has truly revolutionized our laundry situation. It was as “investment,” but because I don’t dread putting laundry away now, I actually do it!

Before, there was no rhyme or reason to our clothing storage. It “lived” where it fit, which meant it was in the dresser, chest, nightstands AND closet. Ugh.

IMG_6679 IMG_6680

Now, (after a good purge) all of our clothing (mine and my husband’s) is in this closet and we have room to spare. Putting our laundry away is so easy now.


Seriously, if you hate putting laundry away as much as I DID (yay for past tense), maybe your clothing storage just needs some tweaking :).

Confession: I have been leaving the doors to the closet open so that I can admire this beauty while I drift off to sleep at night…


Maintaining Organization

Judging by the hoards of people at Menards and Target stocking up on rubber totes and organizers this past weekend, I am quite certain many people have resolved to “get organized” in 2015. For many years, that was me too. I have always loved organizing, but my systems often failed me so “staying organized” was (year after year) always near the top of my list of resolutions. I can honestly say, I have not made that resolution for two years! Sure there are things I would like to improve and some systems always need modifying, but I have found a few key things that have allowed me to maintain order and organization within our home…

1. Decluttering is of utmost importance. Clutter attracts clutter so it is important to keep surfaces clear (save for the items that are really necessary or truly loved). My house may look a little sparse to some, but less clutter leads to less mess and less cleaning, and more time for me to relax.

2. Purge. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stuff you more than likely just have too much of it. Before you start organizing all that stuff, go through it. Donate or sell what you no longer need or truly love. Just pick one room at a time to go through, and grab a box. You will be amazed by all the stuff you own but have ZERO need or desire for, and the burden that will be lifted by removing that stuff will feel amazing!

3. Designate/Define spaces. Paper clutter drives me crazy so I needed to designate a space for bills and paperwork. For me, it was key that my paperwork be easy to put away and ignore. My paperwork is kept in a laptop computer hutch in the family room on the main level (easy to put away), and I can close it so that my paper piles aren’t visible (easy to ignore when they don’t need my attention). The filing drawer at the bottom is where I keep the files I am most likely to need.

4.  If a space is bothering you, determine what the real problem is. In most cases, the solution is highly dependent upon the problem and the person. Look at the mess and make a mental note of what it is comprised of, who the culprit(s) is/are, and determine why/how the mess occurred. Our master bathroom was really bugging me, but when I took a minute to critically and thoughtfully determine why it was bothering me, I discovered that it wasn’t my organization. In reality, It was a small (2 year old) problem with an easy fix. My daughter kept pulling everything out from under the cupboards while I got ready in the morning so child safety locks were a logical and easy solution.   *****I feel like I need to mention that we do not keep any chemicals or medicines in the cupboards which is why we hadn’t already installed the child safety locks)****** 

All in all, I would say getting and staying organized is a lot less about the systems you have in place than it is about your approach. My tip for getting and staying organized is simple: approach your space with a critical, thoughtful eye and never forget that LESS IS ALWAYS MORE.