February 2017 Goals

I was determined to be on time with this month’s goals, so I think publishing on February 2nd is a win! It’s hard to believe the first month of 2017 is already in the books. How are you doing with your monthly/yearly goals? Still dreaming big? Keeping track? Let’s take a look at my January goals first and see how I did:

1.) Organize my closet: A+ I’m super happy about this one. My goal was to figure out a system that worked well for us while we budget for me to turn an extra room into a big closet. Bobby generously offered to give me the whole master closet! His hanging clothes now live in the extra room closet. he doesn’t have many so they all fit, and now I have the master all to myself! I still need to buy a few more hangers, but I pretty much have everything how I want it, and now I can actually see all of my clothes and  not wear the same thing over and over.

2.) Fix my workout routine: B- This is still a work in progress, but getting better! The past two Saturdays I have been able to go on long runs. Also, in addition to my two Orangetheory workouts every week, I did a day of cross training. I still need to figure out how to fit one more workout in, but I am happy with my progress so far.

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3.) Eat better: C- If you will remember, I kind of wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted this to look like. Because of that, my goal wasn’t measurable, and I set myself up for failure. I had little “spurts” where I would pay more attention to what I ate, but I don’t feel like I got a handle on it. I need to be more specific with my plan. Learn from my mistake!

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February goals:

1.) Track my food intake 1-2 days a week: As a measurable goal, I feel like this will work better for me. I use the My Fitness Pal app to track food, and it is a good reality check for me. However, I hate being a slave to calorie counting, so I will not do it every day. I think if I check in on myself and my habits one or two times a week it will help me out.

2.) Take Emma Kate to Disney: She has been asking to go see the big castle again, and she hasn’t been since before Christmas. It’s time to take her back since we live so close.

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3.) Time Block My days: I have been having a hard time staying focused the past couple of weeks. I end up on rabbit trails on social media, or wandering from thing to thing in the house not really getting anywhere. I am going to start using my journal to (loosely) time block and see if that helps me stay on track this month.

QOTD: Did you meet your January goals? Have any February ones?

5 Ways to Tame Your Kid Clutter, While Teaching Them Valuable Lessons

I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest areas of clutter to tame in my house has to do with the tiny dictator that runs our house. Our almost two year old somehow has more stuff than my husband and I combined! Her birthday is coming up soon, so I know that will bring even more stuff. I decided to do a major overhaul of her things recently, and here are some tips that not only helped me, but I’m hoping are teaching her some valuable life lessons as well.

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1.) Get rid of a toy before bringing a new one in: We have a rule where if we buy our daughter a bigger toy (not talking about Happy Meal toys here), that she has to get rid of something before the new toy comes in the house. Right now she is too young to understand, so I just pick something for her. Luckily since she is changing so quickly right now, she “outgrows” a lot of her toys so it’s easy to choose something that needs to go. As she gets older I plan to let her do the picking.

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2.) Don’t buy toys every time you go in the store: I know a lot of parents use toys as a reward for good behavior while shopping, or to keep a kid quiet in the cart for a few minutes. However, in my opinion, this is a bad habit that leads to an expectation every time you go into a store. Sure, there are times Emma Kate gets a special toy or treat, but certainly not every time. We avoid the toy aisle, and I make sure she has things that she already owns to keep her occupied while I shop. Not only does this teach a good lesson, but it keeps random toys you weren’t expecting on having from popping up all over your house from impulse buys.

3.) Find a cause and donate: There are some great organizations out there that will take gently used toys, furniture, books, etc. There may be a family in need in your community that would love to have your child’s toys. Check with a local church or daycare, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Again, this is a great way to teach your kids about families less fortunate than yours, and also get rid of some of the toys they no longer play with.

4.) Have a home for everything: This applies for everything in my house and I discuss it in my book, but I have found when I don’t have a specific “home” for something, I end up just throwing it wherever and that leads to clutter. We use lots of bins and baskets as well as shelves for Emma Kate’s toys. If something doesn’t fit or have a home, we either get rid of things to make room, or create another bin/basket so the toy doesn’t just get lumped in with random things.

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5.) Teach you kids to enjoy experiences and not things: Emma Kate is still a little young to understand this concept, but we would much rather do something fun with her than buy her things. She loves simple things like the splash pad and the playground at Chick-fil-A. These things are entertaining for hours and don’t clutter up your house. Our kids really just want our time and attention anyway, so save yourself some money as well as space in your home, and expose your kids to new experiences. Those memories will last forever!

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QOTD: What is your best tip for taming kid clutter?

How I Organize My Day

I have often had people ask me “how do you fit it all in?” when they find out I work three jobs (Orange Leaf, Travel agent, and blogger) and Emma Kate is only in daycare three days a week. Well first of all I will say, I DON’T fit it all in! Things are constantly having to be taken off my plate, because I am just one person and when I work too much I get sick. That being said, I am able to pack a lot of things into a day by keeping a schedule and trying not to have too much idle time perusing Facebook or playing on my phone. I decided to write a blog post with some general guidelines I follow in hopes it might help someone get organized.

1.) Get a planner: I know a lot of people are into google calendars and such these days and while I loosely use that for some things, I really prefer to have something I can physically write in. It helps me remember to remember things better I think when I write them down and see them all working together in blocks for the days and weeks of a month.

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2.) Use the monthly blocks for “big” out of the ordinary things and the daily blocks for more mundane tasks. Let’s face it, the blocks in the monthly calendars aren’t that big, and no way could I fit everything I need to do in a day in them, so I use the monthly space for things like doctors appointments, Bible study, events at church, community events, dinners with friends etc. Then I go back and use the daily blocks to write in things like my workouts, going to the grocery store, etc.

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3.) Download the Any List app. We stumbled upon this app a couple of years ago and I LOVE it. Bobby and I have a shared list on it, and we use it for grocery shopping. No more losing your list in your purse or leaving it on the kitchen counter, and no matter where you are you can add to it, and it will show up for the other person as well. We add to our list whenever we think of something we need or if we run out of something, and then I will also text Bobby when I am on my way to the store and tell him he has ten minutes to add anything to the list. That way he can’t say “oh but you forgot xyz!” if it’s not on the list, it’s not my fault for not buying it. It has worked really well for us and makes grocery shopping a breeze. We also have a hardware store list, and you can make a list to share with some of pretty much anything you want. It’s a great way to stay organized on your phone when multiple people are involved.

4.) Don’t get sucked into social media. I know. It’s SO HARD, especially when you need to be on social media for a living. I have learned to limit my time during the day because a 30 second scroll can turn into a 30 minute rabbit trail. Don’t say you have never done it! How I combat this is by getting on social media for about 10-15 minutes every morning to see what I missed and to check on my blog, etc. Then after that, I try not to get on again until I’m eating lunch or going to post something, and even then I don’t linger. I have known some people who set timers for themselves. I have yet to have to resort to this. In the evening when I’m relaxing or watching TV, I allow myself to search and browse all I want. This way, I don’t get hung up during the day because I know I can “catch up” later that night.

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Bella likes to help vacuum the rugs. Not. She is terrified of the thing.

5.) Have a chore list. Ah, the ever messy house. It’s so frustrating, especially when you clean your kitchen from top to bottom in the morning and by the evening it looks like a bomb went off. Why even bother right? I have just started doing something that is helping me not be overwhelmed by the big/monthly tasks and keeps me doing some housework every day, but not all. In the morning I try to:

do dishes, make the bed, and do one load of laundry along with one daily chore. In the evenings, I do dishes again, clean off counters, and pick up toys.

The daily chores I do in the morning are one per day 5 days a week, and you could always double up if you have extra time. Monday: sweep/vacuum. Tuesday: bathrooms. Wednesday: dust. Thursday: mop. Friday: Anything undone like extra laundry, extra baby messes, random picking up, changing sheets.

On Saturdays I do a monthly chore such as: baseboards, clean windows, clean microwave and stove, trim bushes outside, wipe down cabinets, etc. I try to do 2 of these on Saturday if I can.

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6.) Plan a time to workout. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done, and since I much prefer to workout in the morning, I look at my week first to see what kind of workout I need to do that day (gym or home) and then decide how to plan things based on the “big things” on my calendar. For instance on daycare days for Emma Kate, I can change into my clothes before I bring her to daycare, then either head straight to the gym or back home to run. This way it’s done and out of the way and I already feel accomplished fairly early in the morning. It also gives me energy for the rest of the day. If I don’t add it into my daily schedule. IT WILL NOT GET DONE. I know this about myself so I PLAN AHEAD.

7.) Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are absolutely times my daily chore doesn’t get done or I skip a workout, and that’s ok! I just try to make it an EXCEPTION and not a habit. There are a lot of days I got to bed with my house a mess, but just knowing I have some guidance in place for the next day helps keep me on track. I like structure, but loose structure. I could never plan out my day hour by hour, because some things just take way longer or shorter than expected and I think I would stress out if I got off task, so my loose plan works for me. Good luck!

QOTD: How do you organize your day? Do you use a day planner?

PS- I am hosting a GIVEAWAY with some other fabulous bloggers on Instagram. We are giving away a Kate Spade purse, bangle, and $100! Enter before tomorrow!

Tips for De-cluttering Your Home

About a week or so ago, I randomly came to the conclusion that we have too much stuff. The things we have aren’t particularly expensive or fancy…just…STUFF we have accumulated over the past 10 years of knowing each other. Also, we have been in our house almost a year now, and there are things still in boxes that I haven’t touched. I mean really, if I haven’t needed it in a year, there is a good chance it should be tossed anyway.

It’s kind of overwhelming when I think about purging things from my home, and to be honest, I have to be in a particular “mood” to get this done, if that even makes sense (hopefully someone knows what I’m talking about so I don’t feel crazy? Well, at least not crazy in this instance.)

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I decided to just do a little at a time as I felt like it, and start where I felt I could do the most damage…I hit up our bonus room and guest bedroom closets and just started pulling things out. I ended up with a couple of huge piles of things and I already feel better and cleaner. I wanted to share a few tips that I used to help me decide what stays and what goes.

What Stays and What Goes:

1.) Pick a room: Pick a room and focus on it until it’s completely done instead of hopping all around your house. This will help you feel more accomplished once you get a complete room done.

2.) Make multiple piles: I like to make a “donate”, “sell” and “maybe” pile as I sift through my stuff.  Sometimes I end up going through a room and will have a huge maybe pile of things I’m just not quite sure I want to part with. At the end of it after going through everything and having some time to think about the contents of the maybe pile, I can usually go back through and get rid of a large portion of it.

3.) Pick a price: I sell a lot of things locally on Facebook yard sale groups. My rule is if it’s going to sell for under $10, it gets donated. I am not going to sell an item and then spend an hour conversing back and forth with someone about a time and a location to meet, then wasting my gas and money to go meet someone in the Wal-Mart parking lot to sell a stapler for $2. I sell a lot of baby clothes to the local consignment shop so I don’t have to waste as much time handling it myself. Also, my parent shave a used bookstore by their house that you can trade in books for money to use in the store to buy other books. I love it, so I always send my mom books I don’t want so she can go get some different ones. Search around and see what you can find!

4.) Pick a good cause: If you do some searching, you will find lots of places that will take donated items that you may not have even thought of. Find somewhere you really want to help, and that you believe in. It may soften your heart and make you more willing to give up some of your possessions for those truly in need.

5.) Do the wear test with clothes: Turn all your hangers facing a certain way. Then, as you wear an outfit and hang it back in your closet, turn the hanger facing the other way. At the end of the season, anything with a hanger turned the first way (meaning you haven’t worn it all season) pull out of your closet and sell or donate.

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6.) Get rid of multiples: Yes you may need more than one ink pen in your house, but do you REALLY need 50? (guilty.) Do you have 5 of the exact same sized pot? Are you really going to be using those pots all at once to cook, wanna-be Martha Stewart? Consider maybe keeping 2. What about your cups/water bottles/glassware? Yall, I had so many water bottles before we moved last time, it was a sin. I got rid of about 10 and still have too many. I do dishes constantly, so it’s not like I run out of clean ones. GO through your house, especially your kitchen, and consider ditching things you have multiples of.

7.) Get a file cabinet: If you don’t have one already, get one. Yes you, the one with five different stacks of mail, magazines and papers you don’t know what to do with sitting on your kitchen counter. Sit by your file cabinet with a trash can, and make folders for bills, receipts and other important paperwork, and trash anything you will never read again (or won’t read once!)

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I spy a stack of papers!

8.) Clean out that pantry: When we moved a year ago, I was embarrassed at some of the things I found in my pantry that had been expired for a YEAR. a year yall…just let that sink in. The truth is we probably all have food in our pantry that is expired, we didn’t like and never threw out, or we just plain forgot about. Clean out your pantry and stop hiding things in layers behind each other so you can SEE everything in there. The same rule goes for your medicine cabinet. Get rid of expired meds and get a basket for each person in your house to put their medicine in so it’s easy to grab when needed.

9.) Buy some bins: You know those big storage bins with lids? We have a bunch of them in our attic. I prefer the clear ones so I can see the contents, but any will do. Anything in my house that I want to keep but I haven’t necessarily used in the past year like photo albums, keepsakes, etc. go into the bins and into the attic so they don’t junk up the rest of the house. You can even keep an inventory sheet of what is in each container in case you forget or are looking for something. (Keep the sheet in your file cabinet, NOT on your kitchen counter. Smile)

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10.) Get rid of excess toys: Kids rooms can quickly become a breeding ground for toys. I don’t know where they come from…they just kind of…appear… I think a great rule (and this is one we plan to implement when Emma Kate is older) is that when it is Christmas or birthday time, she has to get rid of a few toys before she can get more. It makes sense really, because a lot of the things they were playing with last Christmas they will have outgrown or will be too “babyish” the next year. If you are saving toys for a younger sibling, put them in a bin in the attic, and get them out of your child’s room. Less mess for mom and dad to have to “help” clean up when there aren’t as many toys to make a mess with! I would involve your kids in this and not just take toys form their room if they are old enough to understand. If you are donating, explain that there are other kids who don’t have toys that would so enjoy the ones that they don’t even play with anymore. A great learning experience and lesson on giving!

QOTD: What is your best tip for de-cluttering your house? Ok I’m off to put some of my tips into practice!

My Home is Organized Chaos

 

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Piles of paper, magazines, clothes and fitness gear are nearly everywhere. Sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for, but typically I know where most needed items live.

Husband’s missing belt?

Last I saw it, on the dresser.

Flashlight? No, the backup flashlight. The good one’s broken.

On top of the roll top desk.

Cable bill?

On top of the microwave, next to our theater tickets.

My husband calls me regularly questions like these.(Today he asked where the Windex is kept.) You see, he works from home, which means we have piles of stuff everywhere in our 189-year old farmhouse in upstate New York. Plus, he’s taken over the kitchen and dining room tables as his workspace.

Like I said, piles everywhere.

As a result, I’ve needed to hone my organizational skills. I added shelving and bins to our spare room and his office, I reworked the pantry and laundry room. I introduced underbed bins to make up for the lack of closet space. (We have one closet for 3 bedrooms. And like 6 pegs, thanks 1824 ancestors.)

In the process, I also learned what types of messes I can handle, and more importantly, what I can’t handle.

Using all available dining room chairs as auxiliary tables- for printers, filing systems and laptops? No problem.

Playing an ongoing game of kitchen sink Jenga? Absolutely! I’m all about moving dirty dishes around the sink so I can use the faucet…without washing the dishes.

But ask me to clear off the sofa before I can sit on it and its all over.

Here are a few more tips to save your sanity.

Keep a basket near the bottom and top of the stairs. Toss items in rather than walking them upstairs each time or leaving them on the step (a huge pet peeve of mine and unsafe to boot.) When you DO head up, take the basket with you. When you head back down, don’t forget the upstairs basket

Have specific tasks assigned to each day. Clean off the counters on Sunday, scrub the toilets on Saturday, clean the stove on Tuesday. It’s not as overwhelming if the dreaded tasks are already part of your daily routine. They’re less likely to back up and take over.

Sift through drawers while watching television or on the phone. I often empty desk and kitchen drawers and wade through the contents while catching up on my favorite DVRed show or chatting with my mom. You’d be surprised what builds up when you’re not looking. I also use this tactic on the pantry, where I tend to stockpile canned foods.

Put small trash cans in every room. You’re less likely to leave trash lying around if you have a place to immediately toss it. This goes double for paper trash. Junk mail in our house goes directly into the recycling bin.

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QOTD: What’s your favorite not-traditional tip for clearing clutter and organizing your home?

Overwhelmed!

Ok so today has NOT been a good mental health day for me! We took the 5th grade on a field trip….as a teacher, field trips are very, very, stressful. I had the worst headache by the time we got back. So, I didn’t end up running and put it off till tomorrow. I took a nap when I came home and that helped.
So then I decided to try and tackle my closet. I. got. so. overwhelmed. I did a little but then I had to leave. I started looking around at how much I needed to do nd how I don’t have enough space to put everything, and I had to leave the room! Pathetic! I did take befre shots, so maybe once you see how BAD it is you will understand. I am so embarassed to post these!


AWFUL I know! How did I let it get like that! I may do some more later, but will probably wait till tomorrow. Also I have a 6 mile run planned tomorrow. Next week my plan is to do 2-3 easy runs before the race. It’s so close! I can’t wait!

****Giveaway!****
Shut Up and Run Is doing another giveaway. This time, for something called Yurbuds. They are headphones that are supposed to fit snuggly in your ears and not move. go check it out!