Sunday, February 27, 2011

{current} favorites

If you know me, you know that when I come across something new I like, I love to share it. Here's a list of some of my current favorites (subject to change...some will stick and some will end up just being passing KT fads).

  • Favorite household product: Method laundry detergent. I can't really say enough about this detergent. I think it's the design of the bottle and how amazing small it is and the therapeutic feeling I get every time I get to squirt the pump that really gets me (it's also biodegradable, non-toxic and otherwise more "green" than your average detergent). I'm a Tide girl through and through but I think I have been converted. It's a little pricey (I got a 50 load bottle on sale for $11 at Target) but it's added a new joy to doing laundry that just might be worth the price.
  • Favorite way to save money: buying diapers on Since I have a new pricey laundry detergent habit, I've got to save money somewhere, right? Last week I ordered a gigantic box of size 4 Pampers which arrived on my doorstep two days later for less than $20. I think it worked out to about 11 cents a diaper which is pretty darn good. The exact details are a little foggy at this point but I think you just need to sign up for Amazon Mom (free and it gives you free 2-day shipping for a certain number of months) and also Subscribe and Save (also free and legitimate - you can cancel it after you place your order) and then look for a 20% off coupon in your Parents/Parenting magazine. I researched the whole process on-line before I did it and I promise it's easy and totally worth it if you have little ones still in diapers.     
  • Favorite workout: Pilates. At this point in our workout challenge, I honestly love all of my workouts almost the same (on an average week these include running, an aerobics/fitness class, a Jillian DVD, Pilates, yoga, and swimming), but I'm calling Pilates my favorite right now because I'm realizing what a great compliment it is to the other things I'm doing and I feel amazing when I'm done. My favorite DVD is a 10 Minute Solutions one - sometimes I just do two of the segments and combine it with another workout that day and sometimes I do the entire thing (50 minutes). If you've never tried pilates this is a good one to try!
  • Favorite food: local fare. Just finished up an amazing weekend of eating at local restaurants. Hard to express the yumminess factor combined with the great atmosphere of these places. On top of all of that, my body seems to appreciate that I'm eating real food. (I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma right now and nothing will make you want to run, not walk, to your nearest grass-fed cow more than this book.) My three current favorite Grand Rapids joints: The Winchester, The Green Well, and Marie Catribs. 
  • Favorite TV show: Parenthood. Matt and I discovered this show earlier this season and we are hooked. We started near the beginning of Season 2, but we have the Season 1 DVD's all ready to go once the current season wraps up. Love the Braverman's and the way the family gathers together at the end of nearly every episode (despite the good and the bad, the ups and the downs).
  • Favorite blog: IHeart Organizing. Happened upon this blog via Facebook and I've been a devoted reader ever since. I love her clean, pretty designs and I have found so much inspiration from her blog to organize and simply my own life. Added bonuses: she doesn't spend a lot of money and it's all very do-able.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Our neighbors have a puppy named Lucy. Five months ago Lucy was a tiny furball and now Lucy, while still a puppy, looks more like a DOG. Sometimes she likes to come across the street when she sees the kids outside playing. This sends Ella into hysterics - for whatever reason she is terrified of Lucy (apparently we haven't done enough to expose our "we-'re-not-dog-people" kids to pets along the way).

A couple of days ago Ella is shrieking and crying to Matt in the driveway about Lucy's latest visit. Matt gets down on her level, looks her in the eye, and says, "You don't need to be scared of Lucy - she's just a puppy."

And Ella, still crying, says, "Yeah, but she's a puppy *sniffle* that just keeps getting bigger."

Today I'm driving the girls down the road after dropping Dylan off at school. Ella is looking out the window and (I'm guessing) taking in the morning sunshine and snow covered fields. I hear her say to herself, "I wonder how God and Jesus made everything." 

Before I can open my mouth to answer, she adds, "They probably had a magic wand or something."

Ella has testing coming up in March for Pre-K/Kindergarten. We already know we would like her to do Pre-K next year (she has a November birthday) but it's required by the school anyway. I remember when I took Dylan in two years ago they gave me his evaluation sheet at the end. One of the sections he didn't know all the answers to were labeling some more obscure body parts (heels, jaw, hips, etc.) 

Out of curiousity, I asked Ella if she knew where her hips were. She looked at me, placed her little hands one on each hip, tossed her hair back, and smiled. 

Of course. Our little diva.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

dining/office/craft room clean-up

One more clean-up/organizing post because I'm on a roll...the next space on my list was our formal dining/office/craft room plus the nearby closet that is our catch-all for those activities.

We actually use this room a lot, but not for dining - more for everything else. Our desk and computer are currently in this room plus the kids little table (they like to draw and color there) plus a tall dining table and a sofa type table that holds my scrapbooks.

The way this room looks 95% of the time:

The main problems were figuring out an easy system that the kids could stick with and arranging the closet shelves so I could actually get to the things I need to get to on a day to day basis. It usually looks like a tornado went through this room. We spend a lot of time in this room, and I work at the computer in here so it was important to me that it look nice while also being a space that we could work efficiently in. There is not a lot of storage in the room which brings me to the closet...


I realize this isn't a completely terrible looking closet to begin with (I have made several attempts to organize it in the past but nothing seems to "stick") but what you might not be able to tell from this photo is 1) it's not very functional for our family and 2) it makes me cringe every time I open it.

Items that live in that closet:
  • coloring books
  • crayons
  • construction paper
  • stickers
  • my big cutting board
  • notecards/stationary
  • banking supplies
  • computer supplies
  • extra office supplies
  • extra photos
  • board games
  • label maker
  • Swiffers
  • apron
  • yoga mat
  • ...and more


In the closet, I added some matching plastic boxes from Target (I had some boxes in there before but they were all different sizes and pretty much trashed...the matchy-ness isn't necessary but it makes me happy! The rest of the containers in this closet are ones I already owned.) I also sorted through all my stationary and was realistic about what I would actually use and what's been sitting in there for years and years untouched. I probably cut my collection in half (I have a bit of a paper obsession), and I am much more likely to use a card I already have instead of running to the store each time because I can actually find things now.

I also shifted some items around and organized things better - a box for extra photos, one for banking supplies (new checks, old check book registers), one for miscellaneous office supplies, etc. and then I positioned things so I could actually get to them. For example, before I never used my cutting board because I had to move five things and hope nothing fell on my head in order to get it out of the closet.

For the dining room, I found a couple of large, square cardboard boxes in the scrapbook section of Hobby Lobby ($5.99 each, half off). I wanted boxes that would like nice enough to leave out on the shelf so the kids had easy access - one stores extra paper for them to draw on and one holds stickers. I re-used some cute pots I already had to keep their crayons in on their little table - it looks nice and it's easy for them to put them away when they are done.

None of this is rocket science, it's just good to take inventory from time to time and figure out a systems that works. The kids' items are much easier to get to and it's a lot clearer where things need to go when it's time to clean up.

This sounds crazy but I actually feel calm when I open this closet now and walk into this room - it used to drive me nuts and make my heart race (just a little). It's amazing how organizing and simplifying creates more benefits then you realized - the point isn't to create a perfect, rigid system that looks beautiful but is impossible to maintain, but rather to create a space that works for you and your family and makes your life easier, simpler and a little bit saner.

Ahhhhh...I feel better already.

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