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.

Out with the old, in with the new…habits

pregnancy announcement

2015 is fast approaching – it is a mere 11 hours away actually! Yikes! Where did the year go? Without question, 2014 was good to us, and I am confident 2015 will be even sweeter as we will be welcoming baby #3 in June!! Happiness. Pure happiness.

While I am beyond elated about our growing family, I would be lying if I said I am not anxious about maintaining some semblance of routine and order when baby arrives in a few short months. For that reason, I have adopted a few new habits that are really helping me on the home keeping front.


I run the dishwasher every night regardless of how full it is. If I only have half a load, I just choose the half load cycle. While the kids are eating breakfast in the morning, I unload it and then load the breakfast dishes. Ending the day with an empty sink, and starting the day with an empty dishwasher is a really good thing.


I start a load of laundry before bed. While my coffee is brewing the next morning, I toss that load into the dryer. I try to do a load during nap time too, but I don’t panic if that doesn’t happen because just doing one load of laundry a day REALLY helps me stay on top of the ever growing piles of dirty clothes.

-Last but not least –

The kids bedroom serve a singular purpose – sleep. We removed all toys from the bedroom level of our home. The kids have a shared bookshelf in the hallway, but their rooms are toy free. This really helps me keep that floor of our home tidy and manageable.

Those three things have really made home keeping more enjoyable and manageable and, frankly, are good for my Type A soul. What are your favorite housekeeping habits? I’d love to hear from you!


Small Changes Add Up

When we moved into our home, there were a TON of updates I wanted to do. A few projects in, I realized my to-do list needed to become more of a wish-list. Let’s face it, renovations are costly and time consuming. But, that has not stopped me from making small updates that make a big difference [without inflicting much damage on the budget or monopolizing entire weekends].

For example…

1. Painting our millwork instantly made our entry feel lighter and brighter.


2. Painting our mantel instantly modernized an otherwise dated fireplace.


3. Painting our cabinets black completely changed the look and feel of our kitchen.


Those are just examples of what paint can do, and proof that you don’t have to make drastic changes or spend a ton of money in order to update your space. Small changes can really add up :).


Cozy, Comfortable


1. Lighting – the general rule of thumb is to  light 3 of the 4 corners. Ideally, you should use three different kinds of lighting (i.e. a table lamp, floor lamp and a light focused on an object or piece of art work).

2. Live plants – Simple, structural greenery in an attractive pot is timeless. I recently read THIS interesting article about the benefits of houseplants.

3. Candles (out of reach of little hands and paws) give off soft light and great smell. What’s not to love?

4. A variety of textures makes a room feel collected, comfortable, and unfussy

5. A neutral, warm beige on the walls is timeless. You can inject the space with pops of color via fabrics, artwork, and accessories

6. Strategically placed tables ensure that there is a place (within reach of every seat) to set a mug or glass

7. Keep a basket for clutter creep nearby- Things that don’t belong will, inevitably, find their way in, but you can just toss those things in a basket until you have time to deal with them.

8. Keep toss pillows and throw blankets handy. A storage ottoman is a perfect hiding spot for these.

9. You will never tire of Artwork and framed photographs that you truly love


In the Kitchen of a Type A Housewife

While I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a designer, I decided I am going to post before and after pictures of our new house as the rooms evolve and projects get completed.

Our first project was the kitchen. The changes were few, but the impact was huge!

What we did:
1) painted the cupboards black
2) added cabinet hardware
3) changed the wall color
4) painted the trim
5) changed the light fixture over table
6) window coverings (not pictured)
7) new appliances





I don’t decorate my kitchen per se, but I do like it to look like some thought was put into it. For that reason, I make it a rule that anything “decorating” our kitchen has to be functional. Since pictures are more fun and where inspiration is usually drawn from anyway, I snapped a few pics of my kitchen and how I add “personality” to it.

A stoneware crock holds utensils, and my copper tea kettle adds some visual interest.


A basket holding cookbooks adds texture (and easy organization), and my dutch oven adds a pop of color.

Pretty simple, but I find these little elements charming as well as functional, and it doesn’t add unnecessary clutter.