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Converting A Hall Closet Into A Second Pantry

One of the things that has been really challenging about having 5 kids in our current home is the size of the pantry. Oh my gosh, the size of the pantry. It’s tiny and shallow and pretty much the bane of my existence. For years I have complained about it and brainstormed ways to expand it but there really is no good way to make it bigger in our kitchen. Then, last month I was walking through the house trying to figure out an area to keep the dog food bags and had an epiphany. We have a large walk-in closet in our hallway underneath the stairs. It was filled to the brim with junk. We never opened it because it was full of junk. Y’all, I had a real light bulb moment. It took me 2 days to completely empty out and clean the closet from floor to ceiling. I don’t have a before picture, mainly because I was too horrified at the clutter to remember to take one. It was awful. I found stuff in there that I didn’t even know we owned. I found an unopened box of size 1 diapers. My youngest kid is 5. It was THAT bad. I’d say 70% of the stuff in there was donated to charity, a bunch was trashed, and the little bit left was relocated to more appropriate areas in the house. 


After it was cleaned out I brought a short black shelving unit in from the garage and bought 2 taller metal shelving units from IKEA for $14.99 each. I ended up with a L-shaped wall of shelves to help me get organized- 11 shelves in total! I originally just wanted to be able to put our extra food products in the new pantry but I quickly realized that I had enough room to store the toilet paper, paper towels, and extra household products as well. 


I’ve mentioned before that I’m now doing the grocery shopping only twice a month. I was shooting for once a month but it was just too much at once. So I do Wal*Mart on the 1st and the 15th of the month, then I do smaller trips to Aldi once a week to pick up produce, fruit, and anything else that I need to buy there. Having this second pantry allows me to be able to do the large Wal*Mart trips only twice a month which is in turn, cutting my grocery budget down by a significant amount. 


I’ve switched to a monthly meal plan again and it’s so nice being able to organize the ingredients. I buy 2 weeks worth of dinner ingredients at a time. The things to prepare the current week’s dinners are kept in the smaller pantry in the kitchen. The ingredients for the next week’s dinners are kept in the second pantry and the new refrigerator/freezer in the garage. I’ve also made it a house rule that I do not buy snacks in between Wal*Mart trips. So if the kids eat all the Goldfish during the first week of the month then they won’t have any more until I go back to the store on the 15th. I don’t make extra trips for snacks. 


I added several battery operated push lights inside the new space to make it easier to find stuff. After I filled the shelves with our extra food products, I dedicated a shelf for cleaning products at the bottom. The black shelving unit holds all the toilet paper and paper towels as well as extra grocery bags and dog treats. I have room to slide my containers of touch up paint underneath the black shelving unit. I also added some command hooks to hold my swiffer mop, the swiffer duster, the cooler bags, and my purse. I was even able to fit the downstairs vacuum cleaner in there!


It’s been about a month since I completed the second pantry and now I’m wondering how I ever lived without it. This has seriously changed my life. It seems like such a small thing but being able to keep the kitchen clean and organized by having a designated area for the overflow items is such a blessing in my house right now. 



How & Why I Created A Functional Capsule Wardrobe For My Kids

It all started with the laundry. Isn’t that always how it works? One little moment of frustration leads to a whole change in the way you think and that leads to a massive project. About a month ago I went to put away the little kids’ laundry and couldn’t find a hanger because their closet was so full. It was ridiculous and I was fed up. In a fit of “ohmygosh, these kids don’t need all this crap” I pulled every single item out of their closet. I was flinging things right and left while the two little kids stood there with mouths hanging open. Matt called it Laundry Gate ’15. For the record, I do not recommend this method of closet clean out. While it felt great in the moment I still had to clean it all back up again. And so the great closet clean out of 2015 began. 

I sorted everything into like piles (tops, shorts, leggings, etc) and then made the kids try on everything I wasn’t sure about. I found at least 12 tops in Zoey’s pile that haven’t fit her in at least a year. So why were they still in the closet taking up valuable space? I know why. Because there was entirely too much in the closet. Mase had 4 plain blue tee’s all in the same size. I bought him the same pair of shorts twice because I didn’t remember buying the first pair. Insanity. I was ruthless in getting rid of stuff. We’re lucky enough to have people to give our hand-me-down clothes to- my nephew and a family friend with a little girl. So I don’t feel bad about clearing out stuff. 

Now that the closet is totally cleaned out and we’ve paired down the little kids’ wardrobes I have made some ground rules for myself to hopefully avoid a repeat of Laundry Gate ’15 in the future. 


1. Buy bottoms that will match any tops. Now that doesn’t have to mean gray or khaki. Zoey has a lot of tops with pink in the design so pink shorts work great for her wardrobe. Mase has a lot of tops with red in the design so red shorts work well for him. They both have khaki, navy, gray, denim, black, etc. Added bonus- it’s easier for them to dress themselves!

2. Limit high maintenance clothing. I got rid of anything that needed to be ironed, or hand washed, or dry cleaned, or was too fussy for everyday wear. We don’t go anywhere fancy so why did Zoey need 5 fancy frilly dresses in her closet? She didn’t. I know myself well enough to accept that I’m not going to break out the iron for a 4 year old’s shirt so there’s no point in keeping it. Now when I shop I really look at the item and decide if it’s going to be wash and wear before I buy it. 

3. Only keep what you need for a week or so. Zoey had 28 bottoms in her closet. 28 y’all. She’s 4. Now I didn’t buy all of that- that number was comprised of hand-me-down’s from Maliah and a good friend with a daughter a size ahead of Zoey. I only bought maybe 4 of those. Still- 28 was an unmanageable number. So I paired it down to a more reasonable number. She has a handful of “nice” shorts, several pair of play shorts, a couple of skirts, and a handful of fun capri leggings that she loves. 

4. Separate play clothes. I didn’t include play clothes in the capsule wardrobe. My kids are messy and they like to play outside and get even messier. I keep a stack of play shirts and play shorts folded on a shelf for them to wear. They know which clothes are play clothes and they can grab them easily. 

5. Keep a running list of what they need. I have a list on my phone of exactly what my kids need so when I’m out shopping and see a great sale I don’t end up bringing home 5 tee’s when Zoey already has 10 in her closet. When I see an item come out of the laundry ripped or stained I check to see if it needs to be replaced and if so, I add it to the list. Then I wait for a sale. 

6. Keep up with purging the closet. I now keep an empty basket in the bottom of the little kids’ closet and every time I do laundry I sort. If I see something that didn’t quite fit when I did laundry then it gets put in the basket. If I notice that there’s an item that one of the kids just doesn’t wear then I pull it out. When the basket gets full I bag up the clothes and drop them off for my sister or our family friend. It cuts down on clutter and the kids don’t pull out old stuff that they just “love”. 

My goal is for the kids to have a functional, mix-and-match, easy care wardrobe. We lay out clothes for the next day as part of our bedtime routine so having less choices is always better. I’ve been using this system for a couple of months now and it’s working out great. The kids are dressing themselves (in matching pieces) and the laundry is so much easier now! I highly recommend pairing down your kids clothes into a smaller, more manageable, mix and match wardrobe. It’ll make your life easier!


Putting The Spring In My Clean

Once the weather warms up around here I start to feel the itch to clean and purge. It happens every year and I can’t even explain it. I can’t sit still, I can’t focus on anything else, I feel like I have ants in my pants. I need to purge and organize all the things. This year is no exception. The weather has been steadily warming up for a couple of weeks now and it’s as if I suddenly woke up and discovered what a disaster my house has become during the long winter. That’s Disaster with a capital D. It’s bad y’all. 


I started last week with some easy organizing. I went through all the papers that had been cluttering up my counters and desk for the past few months. I tossed the outdated stuff and organized the rest into the proper places. Then I moved on to the drawers in the kitchen that had been driving me nuts. Finally I tackled the laundry area. It felt so good. Next up were the closets. I got Maia’s done in one afternoon and then did the little kids’. I couldn’t believe how much my kids had outgrown. All 3 of them needed new shorts and tees- very few things from last year still fit any of them. The kids went through all their toys and books and made a huge pile of stuff to donate. 


I’ve just started my own closet and holy crap- where did all this stuff come from? I swear I just cleaned it out a few months ago but I can’t find anything and I have nowhere to put the new stuff I just bought. Time for a major purge. I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past 6 months- over 22 lbs to be exact- and I need to weed out the stuff I don’t want anymore. I’m not keeping my fat clothes. Period. Knowing I don’t have any bigger clothes should keep me motivated! I bought me some new spring clothes for the first time in awhile and it feels great! Now I just need somewhere to hang them!


It just feels so good to clean up and get ready for a new season. I moved everything off the hardwood floors and mopped them down this weekend. I did the baseboards. I still need to do the big windows in the living room but those are going to wait for another weekend. I added them to my rather large to-do list that just keeps growing and growing. I think this coming weekend I’m going to focus on cleaning the carpets and cleaning out the front closet. I’m sure there are a ton of shoes in there that need to be tossed out or taken to Goodwill. Speaking of Goodwill, we took a huge trunk load of stuff over there this weekend and I swear I feel 10 pounds lighter.


If you need some spring cleaning inspiration and ideas, check out the video featuring Sabrina Soto!


I may be compensated for views and/or clicks on video advertisements in this post.

You can see more videos like this at ulive.com.



How To Maintain A Clutter Free Home




Over the past 30 days I have shared with you how I de-cluttered my whole house and my whole life. That was the easy part. Well, not easy but easier than maintaining it! In 60 days I went through every single bin, bucket, basket, drawer, cabinet, and closet in this house. I got rid of about 60% of the stuff we had accumulated over the years. Stuff we didn’t even know we had! It feels great…but now I have to maintain the clutter-free environment.


5 Easy Steps To Keep The House Decluttered


1. Clean out the fridge, pantry, and cabinets every time you grocery shop. I do this before I go to the grocery store so I can make note of what I need to replace. I throw out anything that’s expired or almost empty. I also get rid of any excess of those grocery store plastic bags and take them with me to recycle them. I always know exactly what is in my pantry and fridge/freezer. It makes meal planning so much easier!


2. Keep a running list of the clothes and shoes the kids need. When I cleaned out Maia’s closet I found 6 plain white long sleeve tees. 6 in the same size. 3 had tags still attached. So now I keep a list in an app on my phone of what each kid needs and every time I buy something off the list I delete that item. My kids have clothes that match and their closets stay organized


3. Set a time limit on magazines and newspapers. I’m working towards getting rid of all my subscriptions that are not e-subs but for now, I still have a bunch of magazines coming in the mail each month. I give myself that month to read them and then they have to go. So all of the magazines I get in August will be tossed by September 1st. Anything I want to save I tear out and file in my Magazine Reference Binder


4. Go through the mail immediately. I am notoriously bad for letting the mail stack up on the counters and I’ve had to make a real effort to break that habit. Now I open the mail over the trash can so junk mail and excess paper gets thrown away immediately. Bills get entered in the Bill Paying section of my Household Management Binder. Anything that requires action gets done within 24 hours. I still have a hard time with this one but I’ll tell you- I’ve noticed such a huge difference in my kitchen since I’ve started doing this. My counters are clear and clean. It feels great.


5. Find a home for everything. If it doesn’t have a home, it doesn’t get to stay. It’s that simple. You’d be amazed at how much stuff you will get rid of if you adopt that philosophy. I had a great serving platter that was really too big to fit in my kitchen. It floated around the house being stashed in different locations until one day I decided if I could not find a real home to store it then it had to go. After looking around and really thinking about it I decided to give it to my sister. I had no room to store it, the platter only got used once or twice a year, and I truly didn’t need it. So off it went. 


De-cluttering the house doesn’t happen overnight. For me it was a long process that left me frustrated and annoyed on many occasions. The end result however? Worth all the hassle and now that I know how good it feels to live in a de-cluttered space I am committed to never going back!


Thanks for joining me on my 31 Day Journey to an Organized Life. If you missed a post you can see all of them right HERE




Creating A Locker Style Mud Room In A Closet




About a year and a half ago I decided to redo the front hall closet in our foyer. We do not have a mud room- yet another thing I would change about this house- so I had to create a storage area to serve as a drop zone in our house. Because let’s face it- 5 kids and a husband and a dog….there’s a lot of stuff that gets dropped by the front door. The system worked well for awhile but soon I found myself shoving and tossing things in the closet just to hide them whenever someone knocked on the door. Pretty soon, we were back to square one.




I made a few tweaks in the hopes it would help keep us organized and avoid the last minute “mom, I can’t find my other shoe” disaster that seemed to happening every other morning. Seriously, why is it only the mornings when we are running late? This is the closet before I hauled everything out and started all over again.




Eek. I know. It was bad. I started by adding 2 new command hooks on the inside of the door to hold jackets for Matt and myself. That freed up all the hooks on the wall for the kids stuff. I took all the off season items out of the closet- the winter coats are now in each kid’s closet until it gets colder outside. The gloves and hats are stored in one bucket instead of separated into multiple buckets. All the sandals were removed and only the shoes worn on a regular basis were put back in the closet. I also gave the kids their own shoe space this time instead of having them share. They just have too many pairs of shoes now to share space. They still have one hook for their jacket and one hook for their book bag plus some open space on the shelf below the hooks for things they need to remember to take- like library books or projects. 













It functions so much better now. No more piles of shoes cluttering up the floor and spilling out into the foyer. Hopefully we can maintain this level of organization for awhile!


You can see all the posts in my 31 Day Series HERE. New posts are added daily. 


**Last chance to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card by telling me how you define a family! Msg for 21+

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TDC Before and After

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