Posts Tagged ‘home’

Boring Things I Recommend

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

This is some old school blogging today, without a meaningful lesson or beautiful photographs or some sort of inspirational truth. It’s just a list of boring things. Over the past couple of years, I have purchased or been given several items that have made me wonder why I lived so long without them. Every single time I use them, I am amazed at how much better/easier/happier my day becomes. There are many times where you buy something new, think “This is AMAZING!” and then quickly fall out of love. These are not those things. These are things I am still in love with at least six months later, so I am going to recommend some of them to you today. It’s a very eclectic list.

    1. Robot Vacuum – The only thing I asked for for Christmas 2016 was a robot vacuum and I still love it just as much today as I did the first time it cleaned my floor. The one I have is a Roomba 960, but as long as you read a bunch of reviews before you buy I would suggest looking for deals. I do super love the customer service and warranty that came with mine – I’ve had both the base and the actual body replaced for free and the moving parts that break/wear out can be replaced easily. Having a robot vacuum is not the same as having a housekeeper. I still do a LOT of cleaning, including both sweeping and mopping, to stay on top of four kids plus pets. The robot needs me to keep junk off the floors so it can suck up dirt and crumbs and hair and everything else. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t empty it in the morning so it doesn’t run the next night. All that being said, it’s SO NICE to let the Roomba vacuum my room or the kids’ rooms (I just carry it upstairs and press start) while I do dishes or put away laundry or finish some other chore. My house is at least 150% cleaner than it was pre-robot vacuum.
    2. Meat thermometer – OK, you probably already own a meat thermometer and right now you’re like “Um, I got a meat thermometer when I was 18 and moved into an apartment and I’ve been cooking meat thoroughly and to the correct temperature for YEARS,” Well in that case, you’re definitely smarter than I am. For years I’ve been pulling meat out of the oven, cutting it open to check, and then putting it back because I ALWAYS misjudged whether or not it was cooked. Last fall I finally got a meat thermometer because I needed it for Thanksgiving, but since then I’ve used it for everything. I made duck that wasn’t overcooked! I made a roast for Christmas that was delicious! I made chicken last night and didn’t poison my family! This is the one I bought based on reviews. It’s still going strong although when I eventually replace it I might buy a more expensive one. I am no longer terrified to cook meat when we have company over (if you’ve ever eaten at my house, I probably served you pasta salad and now you know why) and I feel like a real grown up.
    3. Kitchen scale – Originally I wanted a food scale for measuring portions. I still do that sometimes. Or I use it for exact measures when making macarons or other fancy baking. But mostly I used my kitchen scale to ship packages. In the past few years, I’ve joined various buy/sell/trade groups for a wide variety of stuff on Facebook. (I wrote a lot about buying kid clothes in this post, and now I buy even more in BST groups.) But beyond BUYING is RESELLING stuff that we’ve outgrown or outfits the kids don’t love. It’s truly pretty easy but the thing that always trips people up is having to go to the post office to pay for postage and send things. NOT ME. I can sell a dress, pay for postage, print a label and have it in my mail carrier’s hands within minutes. Even if you only mail stuff occasionally, it’s so much easier to do it all at home than at the post office. It also made setting up a Kidizen shop a piece of cake, so even if I don’t have time for a brand resale page on FB I can list stuff and sell it for about 50% more than what I would get if I dropped it off at the consignment shop. If you sign up for Kidizen with my referral link, you get $5 off (and I get a $5 credit too).  I am SURE there are people who are anti-using-a-food-scale-for-postage, but I’ve been doing it for several years now and never had a problem with my weights being wrong.
    4. Carbona Stain Devils Stain Removers – MAGIC. I just got chocolate AND blood out of one of Finn’s shirts. Caroline spills stuff on her beautiful boutique clothes all the time that leave “water marks”, which is what people on the resale boards call grease or oil. Carbona takes them right out, so the dress I bought for $20 because it was in play condition is now in great condition. I don’t have an affiliate link or a referral link or any connection to this company at all. I just buy the little bottles at the grocery store when they’re on sale. But they’ve gotten out marks that both Shout and OxiClean haven’t touched so if you have kids (or ever spill stuff on yourself), you need these.
    5. Face cleansing wipes – It doesn’t matter which kind you buy, although if you have a brand you REALLY love, please recommend them. I bought four packs of these Neutrogena ones and I keep them everywhere so I no longer have an excuse not to wash my face before bed. I am too old for bad skin care. I’m pretty much too old for medium skin care too. It’s time to ramp up to good-to-excellent skincare, but because I am both old AND tired I don’t have the energy for a complicated, multi-step routine. Face wipes mean my skin looks significantly better even on days where I don’t do anything else.
    6. Caffeine eye serum – OK, so I do have ONE face product I use all the time. Buy this serum from The Ordinary. I just dab a little under my eyes in the morning after I brush my teeth and I swear it makes my eye bags/dark circles significantly less noticeable. I actually love all their products because you can create a whole skincare system without spending much money, but this is the only thing I would swear is super effective.
    7. Tiny, individual flossers – I don’t know know why it took me so long to just buy a whole bunch of these and keep them in my car, but if you don’t already do this I highly recommend it. I keep this bag of them in my center console so if we’re running late to practice or ballet or whatever I can just do a quick floss at a stoplight. I cannot over-exaggerate how adult and put together it makes me feel to be able to deal with having something stuck in my teeth without any angst.

Well now, wasn’t that boring? Last night I was doubting this was even worth posting and then I realized I had used four of these things within the last couple hours and maybe someone else needs something small (or big) to buy that makes their life easier/better/happier. And please tell me what things have changed your life this year.

Big Kid Room Makeovers!

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Our house has four bedrooms, but since we moved in as just a couple with no kids we’ve never really used all four effectively. We started with two guest rooms, our bedroom and a storage room on the 3rd floor. Eventually, we renovated the 3rd floor (it used to have shiny animal safari print wallpaper), moved our master bedroom up there, and then used two-second floor bedrooms as kid rooms and one as a guest room. The nursery room has been through several renovations (original first-kid nursery, monsters, Lincoln’s nursery) and the bunk room used to be a playroom/Caroline’s nursery.  If you want a whole house tour, my most recent was in 2012 (probably the last time my house was ever all clean at the same time!) but the video below is much more accurate of the “before” status of the kid rooms.

It’s really bad. And this wasn’t even peek-disaster. Just regular disaster. Also, I am still learning how to use my DSLR for video, so excuse my technical errors.

 

But now, we have three great kid rooms! The kids like them but I like them the most. It’s so much easier to keep clean and put away laundry and organize stuff. When I want to move a toy or category of toys upstairs, I have room for them. Everyone’s laundry baskets are easy to find and they are actually putting their dirty clothes into the baskets. I will probably lose my infatuation before too long and they’ll all end up a huge mess I shout at the children to clean every Saturday, but for now, it’s the best.

Let’s start with Evan’s room, which was previously the guest room.

 ‘

E bought some really deep, strong anchors for all the shelves, so they’re very secure.

Almost everything is from Ikea. The bedding is from Target. I offered to move the dollhouse somewhere else, since I wasn’t sure he wanted it in his Big Kid room but Evan asked to keep it, so he and Linc can play with it (and they have been! Which is a change, it hardly ever got played with before.) The Force Is Strong With This One decal is just a sticker I bought on Amazon and you can buy it here.

Now to Caroline’s room:

Again, almost everything is from Ikea and the bedding is from Target. The Unicorns are Real wall hanging is from Amazon and you can buy it here. She Persisted is amazing and you can buy your copy here.

The last room is the bunk room, which Linc and Finnegan officially share. We haven’t done too much in there yet, besides clean it and change out bedding. I need to touch up the paint and move some more toys up there. But right now Evan is letting Linc sleep with him in his new room most of the time so Finnegan has the whole huge room to himself and has no opinion on my lack of formal decorating.

Again, the bedding is from Target and everything else in this room was repurposed or moved from a previous room. It’s not going to win any design awards but the boys like it and it’s a HUGE improvement over that before video.

And that’s how our upstairs looks now! I don’t think we’ll have to redo any of these spaces again…maybe ever? We don’t plan to live here the rest of our lives. Hopefully, we move to somewhere with five bedrooms before Linc and Finn are teenagers and can’t stand to share anymore.

 

 

Bathroom Remodel Hell

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

We interrupt this all-Disney, all-the-time blog to talk about how stupid my house is.

My house is STUPID. REALLY STUPID.

That’s what you get when you buy a house built in 1913. Especially a house built in 1913 that’s had most of the work done by half-assed do-it-yourself-ers over the years, so every time you start any project you immediately discover 10 more things that need to be fixed. It’s the worst.

I am trying so hard to remember that being forced to design a new bathroom is a first world problem. I mean, we still have a (A. One. Uno.) working toilet, so I am still living a first world life (even if I don’t have a working tub or shower). I have access to a line of credit to pay for the repairs so I don’t have to live with a hole in my kitchen ceiling. We have homeowner’s insurance that may help fix that giant hole in the kitchen ceiling. I get to choose which tile and which light and which flooring I want, I don’t have to use whatever is the very cheapest option.

But looking on the bright side and being grateful is taking up SO MUCH of my mental energy I’m completely exhausted. There are people in and out of my house all day, we have a million decisions to make (and they all involve both money and math, the two things that stress me out the most), I feel like an idiot trying to understand plumbing and electrical issues. Feeling like a broke, unshowered idiot is not a fun way to spend your summer vacation.

We had absolutely planned to remodel our upstairs bathroom at some point. We’ve been talking about it for years. Whoever did it last time (a curse upon them) used discontinued/scratch and dent/overstock/ugly ugly ugly stuff and we’ve hated it since we moved in. So when this disaster is over I’m going to have a bathroom I don’t hate. That’s the good news.

It’s also going to have heated floors. That’s the REALLY good news.

But right now, every time I walk past this room, all I can think about is living in bathroom hell.

bathroom remodel during

 

Life

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

There isn’t much going on here right now, besides just life. Busy, messy, noisy, imperfect life.

There are no more babies coming, no super exciting new announcements or changes.

Babies are getting older. Kids are learning new things.

Most surfaces are sticky at least 73% of the time.

There is nothing picture perfect about mismatched socks and eating lunch on the floor.

These weirdos are in some sort of contest to see who drives me to break open a bottle of wine before 5 pm.

But they’re my weirdos.

And every day I’m reminded that someday they’ll be real people who are supposed to go out into the world and have their own lives.

(Seriously, buddy, I won’t be wiping your butt forever.)

And I just hope that until then I can remember that this too shall pass. The bad stuff and the good stuff. So things like Caroline’s 400 scraps of paper everywhere…

…and the crayon scribbles on every surface…

…and tiny fingers stuck into the sour cream while I’m making dinner are all going to be over way, way too soon.

I started this blog as mostly just words and more words and more words. I thought that was the best the way to document how I felt about my new life as a mother. But these days there aren’t any words. Or maybe there are too many words and I just don’t have time to find the right ones. There are SO MANY words in my daily life that I need something bigger to show, not tell, future me about these days I am sure I won’t remember. I’m so thankful I found photography.

 

Adulting: Housework

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Ever since Christmas, I’ve been on a mission to have a clean house. I read the Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. I joined some organization groups on Facebook and revived my Pinterest boards dedicated to improving my home. I read lots of blog posts. I looked at dozens of house cleaning schedules and charts. And then I threw myself into it.

It’s been going pretty well. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Cleaned and organized the coat closet
  • Bought a shoe rack to solve the pile of shoes by the back door problem
  • Cleaned out most of the kitchen cabinets and got rid of TONS of things I didn’t use or love
  • Cleaned out the banquette storage
  • Cleaned and organized the file cabinet
  • Moved the cereal/snacks/crackers/misc food stuff to a cabinet so my countertop is mostly clean
  • Cleaned and organized the fridge
  • Bought new pillows for all the beds
  • Created a laundry system* with multiple baskets
  • Started emptying the sink every night before bed
  • Started unloading the dishwasher every morning after the kids go to school
  • Prioritized an evening clean up every night before bed
  • Started making my bed, complete with throw pillows

Now, weeks later, I wouldn’t be ashamed to have surprise company show up at my door. (I mean, I will probably be in pajamas and no bra, but my house will be in pretty good shape.) I’m not saying things are spotless or that you could eat off my floors – I have a dog, a cat, and four kids – but if you wanted to come in for coffee I wouldn’t be mad. I still don’t live in a Pottery Barn catalog or a blank white box, so those toys on the coffee table are actually supposed to be there, as is the downstairs laundry basket, the art supplies on the dining room table and the bins of small plastic things. The look I am going for is “well-loved and lived-in family home not occupied by hoarders”.

Are you dying to know the secret to my success? Do you want the link to my eBook on how to solve your messy house once and for all? Am I so smug you can’t wait to poke holes in my system? Let me tell you how I have accomplished this 180 turn around from trash heap to nice home. Here it is, my secret to a clean house:

You just have to f**king do it.

There aren’t any tricks. There isn’t a magic organizational chart or schedule or Pinterest board that made my house clean. I have to do all those stupid, repetitive chores every single day to stay on top of the mess. Even my laundry system boils down to “Oh you put away three loads of laundry yesterday? DO IT AGAIN.” I sit down less. I see something that needs put away and I get up and put it away. I don’t let things “soak” in the sink for five days. I pick up the same toys five times a day and then one more time after the kids go to bed…then I do the same thing the next day. It is never-ending. It is stupid. It is necessary.

It sucks.

The peaceful sleep of a child who isn’t living in chaos, made possible by the fact that I made my bed. And then I had to make it again because he slept in it.

But it is starting to get easier. It’s become a habit to clean the sink and clear off surfaces as soon as I can. Same thing with the laundry – I finally remember to throw in a load/switch to the dryer/empty the dryer several times a day. I’m learning to value how 20 minutes of work can help me stay on top of the housework instead of constantly playing catch up. I mean, I am ALWAYS playing catch up. Always. I have four children. I am very tired. But by constantly climbing towards the top of housework mountain I don’t end up buried under it.

It would be foolish of me to say this is a permanent change. I doubt I will ever be someone who finds it easy to stay organized. But by changing my attitude from “I need a strategy” to “Just f**king do it” I’ve made definite progress. You too can have a sort of clean home if you sleep fewer hours, relax less often, and follow your children around cleaning up their messes as they make them.

*I ordered medium sized laundry baskets for every member of the family at the advice of a friend. That way when I’m throwing clean clothes out of the dryer I can throw them into the baskets and putting away each person’s laundry takes a lot less time than sorting from one giant pile. These baskets are the perfect size: http://amzn.to/2mO0gmx.

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