Spring Cleaning – Purge

As mentioned in my previous Spring Cleaning post, we live by two rules: Purge & Organize. Purging is a must! You can only be so organized before junk takes over all the work you just did. Purging is something we have gotten really good at, but I completely understand that it can be hard for others.

When we are cleaning or going through items I keep in mind a few key things. And they are a great place to start if you are new to the whole “purging” thing. Here is what you need to ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • How much did this item cost?
  • Will I need this in the next month or so?
  • Could this item be of use to someone else?

The reason these questions are important is because it helps bring into perspective the importance of the item. If you haven’t used the item in the last year or so, do you really think you will use it going forward? Chances are you have replaced it with something else that you DO use!

When it comes to the cost of the item, I’m thinking in terms of replacement. If I give it away and all of a sudden need one, what would my loss be. For example, the kids seem to collect character cups (Plastic cups with Paw Patrol and Disney princesses on them). Sometimes they crack or get worn out and the pictures slowly fade and peel off. When going through them, it’s easy for me to say “Yup! I got my .99 out of this!” and throw the bad ones away and replace. You need to look at all items in this way. If you’re not sure if you will need it or not, maybe have doubts about getting rid of it, then hold onto it and grab it on the next round of purging. 6 months later when you come back to the same item, you will be more certain with whether or not it has been used or is worth the storage space.

When you are looking at an item and deciding on whether or not you will be needing it in the near future, here are some things to think about. Is this a seasonal item? For example, plastic cups for the patio. Annoying to store, and maybe don’t get a lot of use. If you’re coming up onto summer months, it’s a great time to revisit the idea of using them. Do you have an upcoming BBQ that will require cups? Did you forget you have them?

Lastly, could this item be of use to someone else? This is big for me. Old blankets that we never use anymore that are just collecting dust, could be a goldmine to a shelter or homeless person. The bottles of shampoo and body wash that you didn’t like, could be a luxury item to an abused women’s shelter, filled with people starting over with nothing.

What about clothing that no longer fits? They could be clothes to a family who just lost everything in a fire. Check around your community! Help out people in need! There are tons of organizations that will even pick up donations or have drop off zones for things like that. Pick up a coffee, drive through the city and make some donation stops. You will feel great for getting your space back AND doing something good for someone else.

Old rags and towels that might have holes or are fraying, make a great donation for animal shelters who go through endless amounts of rags and towels.

So now that you have completed the purge step and have thinned out your belongings. It’s much easier to organize and “home” everything.

Spring Cleaning – Kid’s Bathroom

It’s my favourite time of year. Snow is melted, grass is starting to grow and be green again. It reminds us that Winter doesn’t last forever. The light at the end of the tunnel.

But I also love Spring because it starts to feel like a new beginning. And there is no better feeling then starting again inside the house. Most people buckle down and do the annual “Spring Clean”, and the dream home is no exception.

When it comes to cleaning, the Dream Home lives by a pretty basic “rule”. It follows us from room to room, and so far it has proven time and time again to be a good rule to have. We abide by “Purge & Organize”. Yup, that’s it. I know, right? Seems like there should be more to the story. But those tend to be the biggest “problems” with a household. Holding on to too much junk. And not having places to put the stuff that you want to keep.

So every year, we do an annual “purge”. I try to tackle room by room because it makes it easier to contain the mess to the rooms that have yet to be done. I decided to tackle the Kid’s bathroom closet because I was getting annoyed with the shampoo bottles that seemed to be everywhere. I took every single thing out of the closet and wiped it all down. Got rid of dust and dirt and dried on toothpaste, and baby hand prints.

Next I went through every single item that came from the closet. It needs to be wiped down, inspected and then sorted. When I say “inspected” I’m referring to empty toothpaste tubes that my kids try to sneak back into the closet because they like the picture on the front. Or lotions that my son has shown an irritation to that we have never used. Basically using this process to make a decision on each item that came from the space. I make a pile for “keep”, “donate”, and “toss”. Donate would be the things like the lotions that are perfectly good, and full. Toss would be the empty toothpaste tube.

Once that takes place you are pretty much done with the “purge” part. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be feeling better and lighter already.

My kids’ bathroom closet previously had Dollarstore baskets in them for organizing. And I still love that system but I did need a couple extra baskets and I dug the label maker back out so that I could re organize each basket accordingly.

Here’s two newly organized baskets. I used one strictly for the kids medications, Tylenol, band-aid’s, even medicine cups and syringes. The other has been labelled “bath time” and will contain bubble baths, shampoos, and oatmeal treatments for bath water. Previously, I had a basket in each child’s name instead of a combined basket. But now that Foster is older, it just didn’t seem to make sense.

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Next I created baskets for “teeth” and “hair”. Our teeth basket always holds extra toothbrushes (or multi packs), toothpaste, kids flossing characters and travel stuff, like toothbrush holders and small toothpastes. The hair bucket, which used to be strictly named “Kennedy” has expanded to include detangler, combs and brushes, elastics, clips, headbands and a small bag of lice tools for routine checks to both kids. Once all my baskets were divided and organized, I added the new labels to any that had changed.

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The baskets were labelled: Medication, bath time, skin care, teeth, hair styling, face cloths and guests. Next step was to organize them back into the closet.

I put the things I use the least, at the very top. You’ll notice from the photo above that means “medication” and “guest”. The medication bin needs to be up high to ensure kids can’t get to it. Even on their teeth brushing stool.

Bath and Skin care take the next shelf down. Kids do not handle that department either quite yet. So It’s just out of reach but still easily accessible for us. The next shelf down contains hair styling and teeth .This shelf is low enough to be reached by Kennedy regularly, or Foster on a stool. Perfect for starting out. Foster can put his toothpaste back in the bucket, Kennedy gets her hair stuff in the mornings so I can put her hair up before school.

The very bottom shelf has the face cloths and towels. I leave that on the bottom because it does the least amount of damage in the midst of a temper tantrum or curious toddler. Also because its the tallest shelf and those fluffy towels stack up pretty quickly. So have extra room to store them is definitely beneficial.

The closet door is a pocket door so when company comes over, it can easily be concealed. Well, that’s the end of the closet clean out.

Next up, kitchen pantry!

Command Centre

Running a household can feel impossible some days. And it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Quite the opposite actually. The older the kids get the more I have to juggle. Not only do we have family activities, but we have daycare, school, work, special occasions, after school activities, sleepovers, movie nights, and those are just examples of things out of the house!

My point is, things get busy. And I am always struggling to make my life more organized and less stressful. Naturally, that prompted some changes at the Dream Home for efficiency.

Do you see this wall right here? It is a small wall that pretty much floats in the middle of our upstairs living space. This view is from the front door of the house. After some planning, I decided to turn it into a “command centre”. Anyone with Pinterest probably knows what that is, but in case you don’t… it’s basically an organized wall for your family. Some of the most common things you would see are: a calendar, whiteboard, menu, paper storage, family photo, etc. Although each family puts their own spin on it.

The issue with these types of walls (and something Pinterest seems to neglect to advise you on) is that you have to have all of your items before you start the wall. They tend to be more of a “gallery” style so you may need to hoard some of your great finds until you’re ready to complete the entire thing.

I used painters tape to mark where I wanted my items to go. It was easier for me to visualize without making multiple holes in the wall. I placed a lot of items on the floor first to get a more accurate idea of what the whole thing would look like. And once my tape was in place and I was happy with the look. I started to place the items (and by I, I mean Dave who was my helper for this project).

A helpful hint for anyone who decided to take on a project like this. Start by hanging your larger items first. The smaller “filler” items are easier to alter if the tape is slightly off.

For example, the first two things I placed were my large family calendar, and the clip frame that takes up the entire left side. The tape was previously there for the frame in the middle, but once they were on the wall I was able to centre my family photo so it floated in between. My calendar I attached with command strips, the others were hung with hardware.

And then it is all about building the items outwards. I tried to always add the next closest item to the centre point. And then complete it’s opposite. So the clock was the next closest item on the top, then you can see Dave working on the closest item to the centre on the bottom.

The most important item for me to have on this wall was hands down a calendar. I am constantly trying to juggle the schedule of multiple people and It was the first item I began to look for. I purchased this one on amazon and I liked that it was magnetic, a white board, and also has a cork frame for adding notes if need be. I added the clock because this being the centre of the house makes it easily seen from anywhere (always convenient) for a busy family. Although a family photo is important, I didn’t want to take up a lot of space with pictures. Let’s face it, this wall is not huge and almost every other main level wall has photos hung. So it didn’t seem like a huge priority, although a small 5X7 did make it into the centre.

The bar and buckets were also important. The larger bucket holds notepads, post-it’s, your standard office supplies for grocery lists and homework. The smaller bucket contains all the writing tools. Pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, etc.

The large frame that takes up the entire left upper side is a wooden frame that contains three metal hooks. I stuck some photos inside but I thought it would be perfect for things like concert tickets while waiting for the show, or programs for pre school graduations, etc. Things that you want to show off but don’t want people to touch or lose.

A metal mail sorter was added to the lower side as well. I added labels which read “mail”, “memo” and “file”. A place for me to stick the mail when I am walking in the door. Once open it will be moved to either “memo” or “file”. Memo will end up being items that have to go back out, maybe things to add to the calendar, etc. And file will be the things that need to be filed away in my office. Paid bills, bank statements, etc.

Now, are you ready to see how it all came together? A few final finishes were added and now we’re in business!

And this post wouldn’t be complete without the side by side before and after. So, let me take you back to the front door view of the entire wall.

Now, down the road we have talked about staining the little entry table to match our kitchen table but after the harvest table we are taking a little break from staining. That project will simply get added to the end of the list of “upcoming projects”.

Dog Supplies – Storage

I’ve had a few requests for a post in regards to dog food and accessory storing. I put it off because I was still working on my own solutions. I was looking for options that would work for our family. After our recent lose of our dog Maddie, I decided it was time to really clean up our dog supplies and really get closure by removing the things that belonged to her that we no longer need. 

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Our laundry room has tons of storage and we utilize every inch. As you know, we use 2 sets of upper cabinets for linen storage. (1 set of uppers for kids’ linen, 1 set for adult size linen). The centre cabinets on the top hold our laundry supplies (stain removers, fabric softener, detergent, dryer sheets, etc) and in between the washer and dryer we have lower cabinets and two drawers that we use for our pet stuff. 

   

 

This is what it looked it. As you can see, it’s very messy. Cat treats mixed in the drawer with dog treats. Tennis balls everywhere. We had 3 or 4 types of dog food on the go. It needed an overhaul. 

There really wasn’t a whole lot to be done in terms of content. It was mainly how to keep what was there, organized. 

I started with the drawers. 

   

The biggest change is that I put a drawer organizer in the right drawer which keeps tennis balls from rolling around. I also stored the medications and grooming utensils. 

The other drawer has toys. Why do we keep toys in the drawer? Because if you give a puppy ALLLL the toys, you’ll end up with 99% broken, torn, eaten, etc. We rotate out toys to keep interest in them. We also keep new ones in there for when it’s time to throw away an old one.  

  

Next, the cabinet. I used a command hook for my dog food scoop. Keeps it off the ground and easily accessible. I used wash bins for dog towels, and dog treats. The dog treat bin is filled with small containers that house the different varieties of treats (cat treats, training treats, beef treats, chicken treats, pumpkin treats, etc). The wash bins and treat containers were all purchased from my local Dollar store. Don’t feel you have to spend a ton of money to be organized. 

I also have a container for dog food because I generally purchase large Costco size bags and it’s annoying and messy to have to keep that on hand and scoop out food when there is less then half a bag. I tuck what doesn’t fit in the dog food container behind it, under the shelf. As the container runs low I have the extra food on hand to refill.

And you can see that there is tons of room for additional things as well, large boxes of treats, you could also easily use multiple command hooks for leashes, collars, etc. I have a homemade, decorative sign that I hang those things from which is why they are not shown in the photo above. Hope this helps all who were asking about pet storage! If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me your ideas in the comment section below! 

Kitchen Organizing

There’s only so much that can be done in a newer kitchen. It’s not beneficial to replace new cabinets, or new countertops. Sure, you can paint, but there’s very little wall visible due to cabinets and appliances. 

But today I want to share something that I think is crucial to any kitchen. And again, I’m no expert. These are things I have tried and liked and I’m always continuing to look for ways to improve on kitchen organization. Order behind the cupboard doors is just as important as the cupboard door itself. 

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. And I believe that. It is used by young and old, company, short term guests, etc. It needs to be functional and organized for everyone. 

  
Did you know that they make drawer organizers for things other than utensils? Most people don’t. I picked up a large compartment organizer for a top drawer of ours that houses our scissors, measuring cups, can openers, etc. This drawer used to be up recognizable. Finding anything was a nightmare. And although the compartments store multiple items it is much easier to locate things. Everything is visible (not on top of each other and pushed to the back). 

  
I trimmed the edges of this one and used it to create a long, skinny spare compartment on the side where I store the barbecue tools and my dry erase markers for my calendar on the fridge. You could easily use the side panel for dish clothes, or sandwich bags. 

The other part of my kitchen that drove me crazy was my baking cupboard. I had all my supplies (flour, sugar, corn starch, baking soda, icing sugars) but they were all thrown in there and every time i needed something I felt like I had to empty the entire cabinet to find that one thing. 

I took a trip to my local Walmart and picked up some large containers commonly used for cereals and crackers. I grabbed my label maker and got to work.

 
I struck out with small containers for my other items. However a few days later I went to the Dollarama and hit a goldmine. 

  
They are plastic with pop up tops, and were dirt cheap! I organized what I had left and labeled them. Take a look. 

   
 
Everything fit perfectly. And was clearly visible. No more open bags and oversized boxes. I loved them for my cupcake/cake items as well. 

  
I stored all my cupcake liners in a container and my sprinkles, candles, toothpicks, food colouring, etc in its own “decorating” container. 

  
This is my baking cabinet now that it’s all organized. It has been a few months since I’ve done this and it still looks exactly like this. It’s easy to store new items/bags in behind my tall containers at the top (as spares and refills). Handles are all pointed out, and labeled for easy view. 

Skeletons In My….

I know you’re all wondering…. So here it is. My pop of colour in my closet! 

 
  
I used leftover paint from the kids bathroom (Behr “Eucalyptus Leaf”). And gave my closet walls their own makeover. It made the white storage system pop and was just fun overall. The bathroom is painted neutral so it works as an accent for the bathroom as well.  

   

Next I built some new cabinets (from the closetmaid website design). I built them myself so that should tell you how easy it was. They are a bit heavy so build close to where you’re putting them, and stack once they are in the closet. 

   
   

Next I began placing the storage systems where I wanted them. Anchor them to the wall for added stability (hubby’s job). I don’t know about you but I love the white on blue. And since I already had the paint there was no cost for the added pow! 

Stay tuned for the final closet post with all the finishing touches! 

Closet Gut 

My walk-in closet is great, but I had a lot of unused space. I’ve been adding cheap shelves to try to meet my storage needs, but ultimately seemed to be getting no where. 

   
 

These are my before photos. I have an awesome Closetmaid tower with 3 bars that I recently had added drawers to. I LOVE their line of storage solutions! But as you can see I rarely use the bar on the left. I looked into storage options for that side. Shelves? Shoe racks? But just couldn’t find what I wanted or needed. I really wanted that custom closet feel but had no idea how to achieve it. I stumbled upon the closetmaid website and under the “design” tab you can actually input the dimensions of your closet and they build the options for you! Mind blown! 

   
   

Once you chose the design you like it will provide you with a list of products you need to create it! I picked this option as it used the tower I already had. I did modify the design in a few ways. First, I already had 4 drawers, and that’s all I ever used, so I did not purchase any additional. I also omitted the shelves above the hanging rods. I love the look but really felt it wasn’t worth the additional cost. 

Next step was removing the closet system i already had. Here are a few more before pictures of what I was using. 

   
  

 

Hubby crack filled all the holes from the shelves I already had (since everything was moving). 

   
     

And then I got to thinking. Since I was crack filling, and going to have to paint over the wall damage, why not add a pop of colour! So that’s exactly what we did!