Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Mission: Organization...again

Currently this is our situation...

See a little problem? Yep. Me too. We have lots of stuff that needs to fit in a tiny small house. I don't want to throw away, sell or donate things that I know I'll want when we eventually move to another house. Or they are sentimental or I just plain like it. I'm definitely not a pack rat, thankfully, but I do believe in keeping something you know you may need down the road...even if it doesn't work currently. Otherwise, I just end up buying it again and that's a waste.

So once again I find myself in the need to reorganize our closets, baskets and other storage options. It seems that this is a yearly task at least. This all kicked off with my own closet. For a small 1950's house, we actually have his and her closets. Granted not very big but at least we don't have to share. Because that would be bad. Very, very bad.

One night, as I'm once again searching for a shoe and tripping over bags and coat hangers, I decided to work on a little re-do. The boys were on the bed playing and watching TV so I could keep them contained. Do you know I totally forgot I had some cute clutches I found in a bin? Score! In my excitement I forgot to take a before picture. Ooops. But here's the after...and yes, this is MUCH better than before. Keep in mind "lots of stuff, small space".

At this point when I showed Daniel the closet, he said "it's just a place for bags and shoes. You have a problem!" To which I replied, "no I don't, it just looks that way because I don't have alot of room."  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

You'll notice in the above picture that the clothes (shirts, tops, jackets are all on top) are organized by color. I started doing this many years ago and I highly recommend it. Makes it so much easier to find things that coordinate since color is often the primary factor. I've tried others ways (t-shirts together, blouses together, etc) but it always was hard to find the right coordinating item. I was even able to use those 3M hooks and get a large overnight bag hung in the dead space above my clothes (instead of underneath where it took up valuable space).

One of my favorite blogs, YoungHouseLove, had recently blogged about a week of re-organizing (although I didn't realize it at the time since I was waaaay behind on my blog reading). So thus inspired, I tackled the kids toys on Saturday.

First, I've heard read heard and read that kids will tire of toys quickly since they see them all the time. That seems to be the case with us. We have three spots where toys are stored: living room, boy's room and the guest/office/man room. The more I thought about it, the more I decided we should give him fewer options. I plan on rotating out the toys every 6 weeks-ish in order to keep them interested. So up went a huge bag of toys to the attic. Plus, a few that had balls were useless given that all the balls are lost. I'm sure we'll find them eventually. In fact, I vaguely remember one being in the fireplace.

First step - sort through all the baskets, bins and toy boxes to figure out what belongs to what.

Second step - put away all the baby blankets, burp clothes and other paraphernalia for babies that we don't need (for now). In other words, clean out this corner cabinet in the boy's room.

Slowly but surely I found all most of the missing pieces to their toys. I even found the lost duckling that goes to the red barn. It's one of his favorite toys since the four little barn animals all make sounds. It's how he's started learning animal sounds. (thanks Aunt Carol/Uncle Si!)

And we were left with bliss this...

side note: I'd like to move the chair in the corner back to it's rightful place so the basket can go there but we have a baby jumper where it belongs. So yes, this space is a little cluttered still.

Now I have a better place to store their shoes plus I have an extra basket that's totally empty! Whatever shall I do!? I'm sure I'll find something to store in there.

Perhaps the most dramatic change was their cabinet and reading corner. Take a look at the before again.

And now...

Ahhh. I love looking at the before and after. There's so much more room and that empty basket makes me want to leap for joy! Even Daniel commented on how much cleaner things were looking. Charlie even started playing with toys he hasn't played with in months. Seems to already be working. Well until he finds an electronic, dirty dish from the dishwasher, or cell phone he's not supposed to play with.

Next up...the dreaded bathroom, guest/office/man room closet, hall closet and hall cabinets. We also will need to clean out our bedside tables but more on that project later since we got a nice little surprise this week.

Here's a snap shot of what lurks behind the bathroom cabinet. It's amazing we can even get ready each morning.

Anyone have any great ideas for organizing under a small bathroom sink that has the pipes horribly placed right in the middle? Any other cute, crafty ideas for organizing?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The "To..." List

Now that life has settled own a bit...well for our "normal" anyway. I know to some it seems we still are running around like crazy but lets face it. That's not going to stop for quite a while with two little boys 10.5 months apart and still under 2. I feel like I need to create my "To..." List - you know "to do", "to get", "to sign up for", "to try"...

So here goes...

My "To...." List
  1. Check in to Living Social and possibly sign up for said site.
  2. Buy an iPhone since my blackberry doesn't seem to last very long.
  3. Clean out all closets and drawers and re-organize to make more efficient space.
  4. Sign up for Groupon. I dread more emails but I think it might give us some deals.
  5. Create a swing set for the boys.
  6. Create a sandbox for the boys. (thanks to Nana and Pop-E!)
  7. Organize toys and pull half out. I want to be able to switch them out to keep them fresh and new for the boys. 
  8. Refinish dresser (paint red).
  9. Pay off remaining credit card balance.
  10. Save for and buy king size bed.
  11. Once previously mentioned king size bed is purchased, decide what to do with side tables (keep? paint? sell?)
  12. Start using more coupons for grocery items. 
  13. Stop being so picky on all brands of food for above said couponing.
  14. Paint bedroom to match new coverlet.
  15. Visit more antique, thrift and consignment stores for deals and steals. (I'm sure hubby will be thrilled. not.)
  16. Finish Cole's scrapbook before his 1st birthday party.
  17. Re-finish kitchen table.
  18. Apply varnish or wax to kitchen chairs and table. 
  19. Schedule all our favorite shows to record since changing out the cable box and sadly losing everything.
  20. Check out To be sure I can use this somehow.
  21. Add photoshop to my "want" list.  
  22. Paint old window to hang on shed. 

Of course I can't do all of this in a month or even two but I feel better when I have lists. Makes it easier not to forget things. Because you know, I don't have enough things to remember on a daily basis. 

What's your "To..." list? Share! Maybe I'll think of something I forgot on mine! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

All things Cajun, Creole and French

Recently Daniel and I traveled to New Orleans for a wedding (hubs was a groomsman). Doesn't he look handsome in his tux? It was a nice excuse to visit a city we probably never would have gone to on our own...and it was a nice excuse to have a weekend without kids. My parents watched the boys, which of course they all loved. Who wouldn't enjoy being spoiled by Nana and Pop-E?

Daniel and I were excited to walk around the French Quarter (I love all things French) but most of all we were excited to try all the yummy food. I of course need to post about it now.

Thursday night we had the wonderful pleasure of eating at the Chop House. Our very sweet friends, and Daniel's clients, set up the reservations for us and, gulp, treated us. It was THE BEST I've ever had! My filet literally melted in my mouth.

For our appetizer we enjoyed a seafood platter that included garlic shrimp, lobster, lump crabmeat and crab bisque (four different items, not all together). I could eat the bisque for days on end, every meal. It was that good. I always like a ceasar salad so we split one of those as well.  For dinner we opted for the filet mignon and split it because I was already getting full. We also tried the onion rings you see in the picture. DELISH. Dessert? That huge chocolate cake you see in the picture. Did I say that this was one of the best meals we've had?

I'd like to say I slept well that night but my body was still accustomed to getting up with the baby so I woke up at 3am and then again at 5:30am and couldn't go back to sleep. Afterall, that's my normal schedule back home, which is an hour ahead!

We were told that we had to go have beignets at Cafe Du Monde. For those of you who don't know what those are, they are a French doughnut. Basically like fried dough with powdered sugar but better. The Cafe was established in 1862 and serves the original coffee that includes chicory as well as regular coffee served regular or au lait (with steamed milk). We opted for beignets and cafe au lait and ate them in the courtyard. Wonderful start to a lovely morning!

We strolled around the French Quarter that day before we had to head off to the rehearsal dinner. Our next big meal that's noteworthy was on Saturday at Red Fish. Of course it was going to be our last meal in the French Quarter so we got the full she-bang. We started with a trio appetizer of fried oysters, crab claws and seafood crustinis. The wonderful part is that they bring you a hot french baguette so we could sop up the sauce from the crab claws. I'm sure it was healthy. Butter, butter, butter with a few other ingredients mixed in. Daniel followed with the alligator and sausage gumbo. I had a bite and it had such wonderful flavor. We each had a poboy (me = oyster, Daniel = shrimp). I was so full that I just ate the oysters off of mine and left the bread. We also enjoyed the chocolate bread pudding for dessert. I made a point to take a picture of the menu with the Grilled Cheese Vegetable Sandwich. Daniel really wanted to order that too so I thought maybe I could make one similar at home.

By the time we finished that meal, I was toast. I couldn't eat anything else that had heavy cream, butter, fried or any note of richness to it. Even at the wedding reception, which had a tremendous amount of local food, I barely ate. The food was heavenly but I couldn't eat like that on a regular basis. Speaking of wedding receptions, somehow Daniel was roped in to having the bride sit in his lap while the garter was removed. He didn't know what hit him since he was literally grabbed at the last minute. Traditionally the best man is supposed to have this duty but it was the groom's father. Can we say awkward? So Daniel it was.

My one purcahse was a cookbook that looks to have some yummy seafood recipes that I want to try once the boys can have shellfish. I'll be sure to post any good ones.

New Orleans verdict: definitely a place to visit for a weekend but not somewhere I'd recommend for a lengthy stay and definitely not a place for kids. We came, we saw and now we can check it off our list.

Anyone else taken any fun weekend trips where the local fare was delicious?