Probably the most uncreative title I’ve ever written for a blog post. But- to use my least favorite sentiment ever- it is what it is.
Our basement was one of the last things on our renovation list. There was a disgusting amount of dust and debris pushed through the old subfloors into the depths of the basement. It housed all our tools and paint from the reno once we moved in and it was probably a good home to a fair amount of spiders for a while.
We knew we would eventually get it cleaned up. Maybe put a fresh coat of dry lock on the walls, some paint on the floors- but as the baby stuff started to pile up (and then be outgrown so quickly) we knew that storage was not just a wish list item but a must have.
As usual, my Dad deserves the majority of the credit for this. He did the backbreaking (and head bonking) work of sweeping, power-washing, painting, etc. But once we had a clean slate, Jared and I spent many a night and nap time, assembling shelving and hauling all our bins and boxes from our guest room down three flights of stairs to the basement. There was also a handful of things left in my parent’s basement that finally came home to ours.
So don’t expect a HGTV-worthy reveal. This makeover wins in function not fashion. It’s a huge difference from feeling like you needed to wear work boots to trudge through your disgusting basement before to now moseying down in white socks to grab a roll of paper towels. And speaking of paper towels- woo hoo to bulk shopping again! Holy cow it’s so nice to be able to get the 5,000 pack of baby wipes from Costco and have a place that’s out of sight to store them.
OK, so here’s the basement way back in Spring of 2013 when Dad and Jared were taking measurements for the rennovation before we even moved in.
And if you notice the black and yellow post above- that was another genius suggestion by Dad. These lally columns are all over the basement and have nasty rusty schmutz all over them. Some are worse than others but while we were assembling all these shelves, we lost a couple of t-shirts to rubbing up against the rust. A cost-effective solution- rope!
We’re really, really happy with the space. It’s added so much to our everyday lives knowing that we have all of our things properly stored in a clean space and being able to access everything in sans knee high rubber boots! Did I mention a new subpump and dehumidifier are also contributing to our peace of mind?
Anywho, I know we’ve had more dramatic and definitely more beautiful room reveals, but to be honest, this is one of my favorites.
How did this tiny naked boy go through so many clothes in the span of 11 weeks? Well no matter how, he did. And he’s getting bigger every day! As much as I love looking back at the photos of him when we first brought him home, I couldn’t be happier to have a perfectly plump (and super tall!) boy.
Yup, our little man of just over 2 months is wearing almost exclusively 6 month clothing! So to make room for all these new clothes, I’ve been throwing all the tiny tops and bottoms, hats and booties, jammies and onesies in two bins under his crib. Well those bins were starting to bust at the seams.
Time to organize and label, label, label!
I know if everything is organized and labeled by type and size it will either help me out in the future if we have another boy, or help whomever we pass on the clothes to. (I’m looking at you cousins! That baby-making train isn’t far from the station! Toot toot!)
So first I dumped out everything I’d been storing and sectioned them into piles.
There’s newborn jammies, hats and socks, 0-3 month sweatshirts, 3 month pants and onesies, and 3 month jammies. Oh yeah, and those newborn cloth diapers from when I was blissfully pregnant and said I was going to “give it a try.” I think one week in, Jared looked at me after Eli’s fifth poop of the day and said, “remember when we were going to try cloth diapers?” and immediately we both just bust out laughing. All power to those who do and those g diapers we bought are insanely cute but cloth diapering falls under my parenting mantra of “good for them! not for me.”
So after the sorting I corralled some essentials…
Then started folding and bagging my piles and labeling each bag.
My family made a conscious decision this year to simplify Christmas. I firmly believe that kids make Christmas. I mean, an office Yankee Swap is brilliant in it’s awkwardness and cocktails do seem to taste better (and slip down faster) around the holidays but let’s face it- it’s all about the kiddos. Who doesn’t want to watch a toddler tear into a huge package only to spend the rest of the evening entertained by the cardboard box itself? So this year, we’ve made a ‘No Adult Gift’ rule that I really hope everyone sticks to- because we sure will.
This year, the shopping budget is devoted to my three nephews, one little niece, and one pretty special baby boy who may or may not celebrate his first Christmas this year. In honor of our new tradition, my gift guide series this year is broken up by age group and stops firmly at teens!
First up, Baby of course! Enjoy…
It’s the final installment of my Cleaning House Series and today I’d like to share my arsenal of favorite cleaning tools. I can go green all day long with homemade cleaning products but you sure-as-shit aren’t going to see me on my hands and knees scrubbing a floor. No, I like my shortcuts and modern conveniences as much as the next gal.
And my favorite convenience with out a doubt has to be my iRobot Braava. I’ve gushed about him before but since he came into my life last September, I think I love Braava more and more with every swipe.
Braava comes with two microfiber cleaning cloths that get tucked on to a bottom flap that locks with a magnetic seal. The cloths are fantastic for trapping crumbs and scrubbing floors but with our dark floors, I tend to send Braava out every couple days. And on those quick dust sweeps, I gear him up with a basic Swiffer dry cloth which works just fine.
Where does all that dust come from anyways? And hair! Lord, I could make myself a wig!
Sorry, that way gross. Let’s move on…
Where Braava takes care of our wood floors, my Shark vacuums take care of our rugs. Ever since I went off to college with my teeny Shark Dustbuster, I’ve been in love with the Shark brand. They’re so light weight and powerful… plus they’re freakin’ adorable with their sleek design and lovely lavender color!
With the Shark Navigator upright vacuum and the Shark cordless Dustbuster, I’m invincible! The vacuum is really light weight with a nice handle on top for getting up and down the stairs. The attachments work well for upholstery and the clear canister in the center is super easy to detach and dump into the garbage.
The Dustbuster comes in handy often. I love that it’s cordless and charges in this perfect little docking station. It’s perfect for cleaning up small messes especially all our small construction projects. Sawdust is no match for the Shark!
If you’ve been holding out on cleaning technology, try one of these happy helpers and I guarantee you won’t miss the dustpan!
By now, you may have realized that I take cleaning seriously. Cleaning extends into every area of my life including clean eating and more recently a clean, chemical-free lifestyle.
Chemicals have made their way into everything from the milk in the fridge to the shampoo in the shower and no where are chemicals more prevalent than in all those cleaning products. Allow me to scare you for a moment…
Butyl cellosolve, a chemical common in all-purpose, glass, and other types of cleaners, damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver. And yet you spray it on your counter where you prepare food!
And what’s even scarier- no law requires manufacturers of cleaners to list ingredients on their labels or to test their products for safety. It’s up to you to make sure your home is a nontoxic environment. So let’s take some initiative and try making some perfectly effective cleaners from safe products you probably already have in your home!
First, can we start with getting rid of anything that says WARNING, DANGER or POISON? I mean, that’s just common sense people. OK, now on to the mad scientist ingredient mixing fun!
The Power of Baking Soda
Baking soda’s cleaning power is mostly physical- acting as a mild abrasive to gently wear away stains. But there is chemistry involved too! Baking soda reacts with the grease found in many stains to form glycerol, a common cleansing ingredient in soaps. Mix it with vinegar to create carbonic acid which will boost the corrosive action of the vinegar. This concoction also releases carbon dioxide which enhances the scrubbing effect. And bonus! As a weak alkali, baking soda neutralizes acids in odor molecules to eliminate strong smells! Use baking soda to remove rings around the toilet, sink, and tub, the film that builds on shower doors, and vinyl surfaces. I always have an open box in the fridge to absorb any stinky odors that may linger.
Vinegar: Not Just for Dying Eggs!
Distilled white vinegar can be used as a deodorizer, disinfectant, mild acid, and preservative. Vinegar’s acetic acid will dissolve calcium build-up found in coffee pots, sinks, showers, dishwashers, and windows. Vinegar also cuts through dirt, grease, mold and helps to carry away foul odors as it evaporates. Every month or so, I like to fill my coffee maker with half a pot water, half vinegar and send it through a brew cycle without the grounds. It disinfects and cleans my most precious morning appliance with minimal effort.
When Life Hands You Lemons, Use Them to Clean!
Lemons are arguably one of my favorite things in the world! I love the smell, I love the taste, I love their bright, happy yellow color! Fresh lemon juice contains citric acid which can deodorize, remove stains, brighten whites in the laundry or kitchen, clean glass, inhibit mold, and disinfect toilets to name a few. One of my favorite lemon cleaning tricks is removing stains from food storage containers. Just squeeze the juice into the containers, rub with a little baking soda, and let sit overnight. No more tomato-sauce-stained tupperware!
There are countless ways to cut chemicals in your cleaning routine. Check out these recipes from Good Housekeeping. They have a homemade potion for every product from stain remover to brass cleaner. Happy (healthy!) cleaning!
Back for more? Woo hoo! Let’s clean!
Yesterday I told you about my Purge & Merge method. Getting rid of unwanted items and grouping like things together. I use it when approaching any project from packing up a whole house for a move to tackling the pantry. Let’s use the latter as a for instance.
Does your pantry look like this? By the way, you have no idea how much anxiety this photo gives me.
Start with the purge. This should be easy. Expired food? Gone! Unhealthy choices? Chucked. Cans with the labels off? No one likes surprises when hungry.
OK, that was easy right? On to the merge. Think of your pantry as your very own grocery store. Baking aisle, canned goods, snacks, international foods, etc. Group like items together and you’ll never have to wonder just how many jars of peanut butter may be lurking.
And while you’re grouping, baskets are great tools to corral loose packaged items like granola bars or oatmeal packets. I like to put the small containers like baking powder, vanilla extract, and food coloring together. The basket comes with me to the counter when I’m ready to bake! And I love all the snack tips from the Mommy Blogs. Kids can basically pack their own lunches when the options are there for them!
There’s really every canister and container under the sun for pantry items. Have fun with labels or colors but in the end, when organizing the pantry the Purge & Merge works every time. Happy cleaning!
It’s no secret that I love to clean. And I know I’m not alone in wanting this damn winter to be over. I know it’s not quite spring, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to get a jump start on spring cleaning. Any takers? Eh?
Well even if you don’t love cleaning and organizing as much as I do, it’s a necessary evil. So I’m starting a two week series on arguably the thing that I do best… cleaning. From cutting clutter to scrubbing stains, follow my lead and we’ll have spring cleaning done before the vernal equinox!
I start every cleaning project large or small with my patented (not really, but please don’t steal my idea and make millions) Purge & Merge. Tossing or donating unwanted/unloved items and moving like things together. It’s the basics of organizing. It’s Cutting Clutter 101.
People have such an attachment to things. I once worked for a professional organizer in Richmond, Virginia and on one job, a woman had enough craft supplies to fill two rooms. Trying to get her to toss a scrap of fabric was like getting her to give up her first born. I don’t understand it (and thus, I never committed to the professional organizer business). If something is in your home- it just has to have a purpose. Especially since most of us don’t live in thousands upon thousands of square feet of living space. So please, look at your things and ask yourself these three questions:
It really doesn’t have to be that difficult. Man yourself with black and white trash bags. Black for the garbage and white for the donations. And make the decision in one minute. That’s right- sixty seconds of decision-making. Use it? Love it? Will someone else? Done.
Good job! You’ll be cutting clutter in no time!
When you have a husband that loves electronics you inevitably live among a variety of wires. And as a neat freak, nothing bothers me more than unruly wires.
Take the back of our TV for example.
HDMI, ethernet, power cords, the Roku box, and I don’t even know what else. So it was time to get these under control. I called upon my arsenal of clips, zip ties, and labels.
Honestly, wire organization is not a quick fix. I spent about an hour crouched behind the TV coiling wires and clipping them behind our console. The 3M Command clips worked perfectly to set the power strip cord along the baseboard.
With all cords zip tied together, labels at the plug are essential to know what’s what.
A little camouflage with pillows and throws left all those pesky wires out of sight and out of mind.
Though she be but little, she is fierce! The linen closet, that is. It may be a shallow closet but since we never knew it existed until we ripped down this wall, it’s kind of an added bonus!
Located directly across from our full bathroom on the second floor, this little gem is the perfect spot for towels, tissues, and extra supplies.
But everything you own seems to! So I wrangled all my instruction books and created this lovely organized binder. I had a ton from all the small appliances we received as wedding gifts. And a bunch from electronics over the years. But with the renovation, we had an influx of appliance manuals. And those, you’ll really want to save!
So these went in first. I always try to write the date of purchase on my instruction books since something always seems to break right at that warranty mark and it isn’t always easy to remember in what month or even what year you bought something.
I sorted my manuals by Major Appliances, Small Appliances, Cleaning (Hello iRobot!), and Electronics.
It’s not something we’ll flip through regularly but it sure will come in handy when the juicer starts spewing vegetable guts or the ice maker gets stuck on crushed.