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!

Simplify

Confession: I have a “stuff” problem. So much so that I am CONSTANTLY buying baskets to put my “stuff” in. I’ve come to the realization that I place waaaaay too much importance on material possessions, but they aren’t “important” to me.

I want to live simply…live with less, and do MORE of what I love. Enter my new goal: SIMPLIFY.

I don’t really know where to start, but I do know that I want this to be long term. So, I am going to start slow. If I purge too fast, I know myself well enough to know that I run the risk of going on a spending spree to replace what I purged. Classic Sarah.

My plan is simple. I am either going to donate or sell our “excess.”

I am slowly going through our home (systematically), examining its contents, and asking myself these questions:

1. Do I use/need it?

2. Does it add value (not monetary) or meaning to our life?

If the answer to either question is yes, then it stays. If the answer is no, then I ask myself another question…

3. Is someone likely to buy it? (Yes items are noted for garage sale)

If the answer is no, I ask myself one more question…

4. Could someone else need/benefit from this?

No? Trash. Yes? Into a box for donations it goes.

I am hoping this is just the beginning of something great for our family… time will tell. If you are on a similar journey or already living a “less is more” lifestyle, all tips, suggestions and words of wisdom are much appreciated. 🙂

This is definitely different than any kind of purge I’ve done before so, like I said before, I’m taking it slow. Radical change doesn’t happen over night :)…though my husband might say his Type A wife sometimes attempts just that…

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

Before

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After

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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.

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

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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.

Less is More

De cluttering can seem overwhelming. A few questions that immediately gave me pause when I started simplifying were: what defines clutter? What if it was a gift? What if I need it again? What if it holds sentimental value? What now?

Well, I have discovered that each one of those questions is (fairly) easily answered.

1. What is clutter? Anything that gets in the way of completing a specific task is clutter, and anything you don’t use or (really) love is clutter. (e.g. a centerpiece that has to be moved every time you sit down to dinner).

2. What if it was a gift? So what. Rest assured, the gift giver did not intend to give you something that would collect dust or that you would keep FOREVER. See answer to question 1.

3. What if I need it again? You likely won’t, but if you are worried put it in a box and let some time pass before getting rid of it. Also, really think about the word “need” as it is often confused with the word “want.”

4. What if it holds sentimental value? Objects don’t hold memories. You do.

5. What now? Donate it to benefit someone else or sell it to pay down debt.

When you are done, you won’t just have less stuff. You will have more time, more money, and more energy to focus on what really matters to you. Less is more.

Starting a Toy Rotation

I am simplifying our play spaces. They weren’t functioning the way I wanted them to so I started voraciously reading about Montessori principles.

I was immediately captivated by the clean, uncluttered spaces that promoted early literacy, math, self-help, fine motor and rest.

After extensive reading, I discovered that I didn’t “buy into” to the Montessori philosophy in its entirety, but that there were definitely aspects that I wanted reflected in our play space.

My Must-Haves
1. Good Design
The space should be uncluttered and everything should be easily accessible to little ones.

2. Promote exploring and learning

Before

In our previous play space, every toy was accounted for – talk about sensory overload!

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Confession: Our previous space made me itch a little. That probably explains why we spent very little time there…

Kids are kind of like puppies… give them too few toys, they get bored (and destructive); Give them too many toys, they get bored (and destructive). I decided to pare down and start a toy rotation.

All that is really needed for a good toy rotation is baskets…lots and lots of baskets, bins, and buckets (and a place to store the toys out of rotation).

Here is a little tour of our play space AFTER starting a toy rotation…

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We included a comfy chair with low arms so that the three of us can sit together to read a book or two (or five).

The six cubby unit keeps the area clutter free, organized and the activities are easily accessible. (It will also be easy to rotate new toys in when the kids get bored with these.)

The tent is an all time favorite for my kids. Sometimes they play peek-a-boo from behind the curtain door, and other times they like to sneak away for some quiet time. My favorite is when they go in together and I can’t see them, but can hear them giggling. My least favorite is when they go in together and someone ends up in tears.

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The child-sized table is a perfect spot to do something creative like draw or play with play-dough.

The kitchen is a perfect place to “play grown-up,” and a basket of instruments gives them an opportunity to give me a headache make a little music.

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As a recap, the must-haves for our Montessori-ish playroom are…

1. Good Design
The space should be uncluttered and easily accessible to little ones.

2. Promote exploring and learning

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our play space ☺

Sydney likes it!

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