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The Organizing Of My Garage




Oh the garage. There just are not words to describe the way our garage was before the big clean out. Horrifying. Disgusting. Appalling. None of those even come close. I don’t even have a full before picture because I couldn’t fit all the clutter into the frame of the camera. It was that bad, y’all. See, the garage door broke at the end of 2011 and we couldn’t get it fixed until February of this year. That’s over a year of not being able to open the door. So what do you think happened once we weren’t putting our cars in their anymore? Yep. We filled it with clutter overflow from the house instead. 


This was the job I was dreading the most. These photos show you just one half of the garage while we were in the process of cleaning it out. Matt had a 4 day weekend and we spent the entire weekend working on the garage. Every single thing was sorted and organized. Just imagine, these are the photos when we were half way done with the garage so can you picture what it looked like before we started? I hope y’all appreciate the difficulty I have sharing these before pictures. It’s totally embarrassing and these aren’t even the full extent of the mess!


The Before:










 Did you cringe? I’m still cringing right now and it’s my house. You know the worst part? We didn’t even really know what was in that garage. We hadn’t needed anything in there for over a year. So clearly it was just all clutter that we had allowed to pile up until the job became so big that it seemed impossible to clean out. 


Over the 4 day weekend we sorted through it all. We made 2 huge piles: donate and large trash. We cleared out one side of the garage first by moving everything to the driveway and used that side of the garage for our 2 piles. Also, I must mention, we gave ourselves a deadline. We set up a large trash pick up through our city for the Friday after our 4 day weekend and also set an appointment for the National Kidney Foundation to come pick up our donate pile on the same day. So we had to get it finished, no putting it off!


We went through everything in that garage. I could not believe the amount of stuff in our 2 piles when were finished. I forgot to take a picture of the 2 piles when we were done but oh my gosh….unreal. The few things that were left in the garage were sorted and organized into the white cabinets we have along one wall. And there’s hardly anything in there- tools and some art supplies, that’s about it. I can’t tell you how nice it is to walk in the garage and find the hammer without having to search through piles of junk! 





Zoey looks so little sitting in the middle of all that open space! You can see in the left corner the start of our donate pile. It covered almost the whole side of the garage! It felt great to donate all that stuff to a worthy cause. The National Kidney Foundation is near and dear to my heart. My dad is a kidney transplant recipient and we give thanks every day for the gift he was given- for the gift we were given. 





Look at all that space. Oh it felt so good to get it all cleaned out! The first thing I did after the donate truck left was park my minivan inside the garage for the first time in over a year. One thing I am so looking forward to is not scraping the snow and ice off my windshield in the morning so I can take the kids to school. Nothing worse than 20 minutes of work for a 5 minute round trip drive to the school. 





The minivan looks happy, doesn’t she? I think she might be smiling. I know I am! This was the last big project of my huge whole house clean out and I sure did save the biggest for last! I can’t believe my 31 Day Series is almost over! Tomorrow I’m sharing my last project- the update of my front closet locker system and on Thursday I have a wrap up post with tips on how to maintain the organization after doing all this work! Then it’s back to regular scheduled programming!


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



How To Organize A Small Master Closet



I am cursed with a very small master closet in this house. Seriously, it’s so small it’s almost laughable. Except I’m not laughing. I love clothes and I have a whole lot of them. I also have quite the love affair with shoes…and scarves….and bags. See my problem?


A few years ago we had to redo our master closet system when the old one fell off the wall. Literally, it just fell off the wall. So we took the “opportunity” to install a closet organizer that allowed us to change the configuration whenever we needed to. I think I’ve re-configured the closet at least 25 times now, trying my best to pack as much stuff in there as I can! When we did the big house clean out this summer I purged the master closet with a vengeance. 






I gave myself a few rules when going through the closet:


1. If I hadn’t worn it in a year, it went to the donate pile. 


2. If it doesn’t fit me now, it went to the donate pile. 


3. If I don’t have anything it matches, it went to the donate pile.


You wouldn’t believe how much that I purged just by following those 3 simple rules. I had to be realistic. If I haven’t worn it in a year then it probably is not going to get worn again. The exception to that rule were a few party dresses that I need for fundraisers and things. They cost too much to replace! I also got rid of almost everything that doesn’t fit me right now. No more hanging on to clothes that are either 2 sizes too small or 2 sizes too big. I kept a small stack of jeans that I love even though I’m not wearing them right now. But all those skinny clothes? Gone. All the fat clothes? Gone. Also gone are all those items that I bought on sale but have never found anything that matches them. If I loved it enough I would have found something to wear with it by now. 


I was shocked at how much space those items in the donate pile were taking up in my closet. I even found a brand new pair of boots that I bought last year on sale at the end of the season. They were hidden by piles of stuff I never wear. It was like Christmas, y’all. After I purged I sorted and organized everything. I’m not one of those people who organize their closets by color. I organize in order of what I wear on a regular basis. I’m not a morning person so being able to grab something to wear quickly without hassle is what matters to me. 





I brought the cube organizer that used to be in Mase’s bedroom into the closet and used it for accessories, shoes, jeans, etc. It made such a difference. Things are lying all over the floor and I can find what I need without a search party. I was able to get the majority of my fall/winter and spring/summer clothes and accessories into the closet this time. Normally I have tubs of off season clothes stored under the bed. 


In an effort to try and maintain this organization I have made myself a new rule. For every one thing I buy I have to get rid of at least one item. I’ve been pretty good so far about sticking to it. As I get older I realize I don’t need 14 pairs of the same style jeans or 9 white tees. I’d rather wait and spend my money on a few good, quality, items that will last awhile than grab the trendy sale items that will out of style next year. Oh geez….I sound like my mother. I feel the need to buy something inappropriate right now. Ha!


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



Monthly Menu Planning Made Easy



 Awhile back I made the decision to switch to a monthly meal planning system. Planning a different menu every week was starting to stress me out. I would find myself scrambling on Tuesday night at 11pm to plan a week’s worth of meals so I could make a shopping list to use first thing the next morning during my weekly shopping trip. I was spending way too much money on groceries because I wasn’t taking the time to plan properly. 

I have been meaning to start a monthly menu plan for awhile but it really seemed like so much work. I kept putting it off and moving it down my to-do list. But honestly it doesn’t have to be a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be complicated or have 20 steps to complete. I needed a simple, easy to use, monthly menu planning system. Once I identified what I wanted to get out of my system I was able to make one that fit me and my family. 


 After I organized all my recipes and worked out what I wanted to accomplish with my monthly menu plan, it was easy to create a system that would help me plan a monthly menu while still staying on budget. The first thing I did was make a spreadsheet where I separated all my dinner recipes into lists: Crockpot, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Seafood, and Pasta. I also made a list of our family favorite recipes that I make every single month. After separating the recipes on my spreadsheet I listed the total cost to make the dinner next to it. I have a strict monthly grocery budget and I have to plan my menu around that budget. 

 As part of my menu planning I found a monthly menu printable to put in my Household Management Binder. Once a month I pull up my spreadsheet to plan our menu. The first thing I do is enter our family favorite recipes onto the monthly menu sheet.  Next I go over what I have on hand in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and see what meals I can plan around those items.  Then I check out my Pinterest recipes to try board and the recipes saved in my Magazine Reference Binder to find 2-3 new recipes to try that month. Finally I fill in the other days using my spreadsheet lists. I have a set weekly total for dinners so as I add a dinner I subtract the cost from that budget. This method makes sure we don’t end up eating 5 Chicken based dinners in a row or going over budget by $20 one week. 

Since starting my monthly menu planning I haven’t gone over my weekly grocery budget once and we have had a home-cooked meal almost every night. In our house, that’s a huge win! 

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


How To Organize A Recipe Collection




I have a huge collection of recipes but I was so disorganized that I found myself rotating between the same 5 or 6 dinner recipes every week. Even the kids were tired of the same old spaghetti and they love spaghetti. It seemed like such a waste to have all these delicious recipes gathering dust or lost in cyber space instead of trying them out. When I set out to organize our whole life this summer I made a plan to organize my recipes too. 






I gathered all my favorite recipes that were written on slips of paper or marked in a cookbook or torn out of a magazine. I sorted them into piles: main dishes, sides, appetizers, desserts and beverages. I used the website Key Ingredient as my virtual cookbook. You can create categories and collections of your own recipes. I searched through a lot of websites before deciding on this one and what finally made me choose it was the app. I can look up any recipe I need on my laptop, my tablet, and my phone app. So if I need to double check a recipe’s ingredients while I’m at the grocery store it only takes me a second to look it up on the app I have on my phone.  


It took me a few weeks to get all my recipes typed in and saved on the website but it was worth the effort. I was able to get rid of all those big cookbooks and random recipes torn out of magazines and written on napkins. Once I got started I added a few more categories: Thanksgiving, Holiday, and Breakfast. 


So that took care of my big collection of recipes that we had tried and liked over the years but what about the enormous pile of recipes I hadn’t tried out yet? I didn’t want to add them to my Key Ingredient cookbook until I knew they were something I would make again. Remember my Magazine Reference Binder I showed you? I have a section in there just for recipes. Whenever I see a recipe in a magazine that I want to try I tear it out and add it to a page protector in the binder. Once I try it I either toss it out if it was something I won’t make again or I go ahead and enter the recipe into my cookbook on Key Ingredient and toss out the paper copy. 


I also created a new board on Pinterest for recipes I want to try. Any recipes I see online I save to my recipes to try board. Once I try a recipes we like I add it to my Key Ingredient cookbook and move it to my dinner recipe board on Pinterest. Having a separate board for all those delicious looking dinner recipes that I know I want to try has made it so much easier to plan my menus! Tomorrow I will be sharing exactly how I plan my monthly meal plans. 


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



5 Habits Of Highly Organized Families




In my quest to become one of these highly organized families I spent the last few months studying families we know who are super organized and always seem to have it together. These families astound me- many kids, homeschooling, active in the community…I want to be one of those families. So I started asking questions and working towards making changes in my own family. I’m sure some of those moms I pestered with questions thought I was off my rocker but they were very gracious and gave me some tips. I’ve already implemented some of them and I’m still working on others.





1. The Family Command Center & Master Calendar. This was the number one thing mentioned by every single mom I talked to. They all have master calendars large enough to keep track of every family member’s activities. Some even color code each person’s activities with colorful sharpie markers- I really should start doing that too. One mom told me “If it’s not on the calendar it does not exist”. They also have family command centers to keep everything organized and easy to find. 


 2. The One-Touch Rule. I’ve heard of this before and always thought it was a good idea but never made a conscious effort to follow it. The One-Touch rule means you only touch an item one time. For example- you see your kid’s jacket lying on the floor. Instead of picking it up and moving it to the couch you take the extra minute to walk it to the front closet to hang it up. Or you see your daughter’s doll on the table. Instead of putting it on the stairs to take up to her room later you walk it up and put it away right then. I always thought it seemed counterproductive and quite frankly, like a lot of work. Since implementing this rule in our house I’ve been amazed at the difference in how picked up and clean the house has remained. 


3. Utilizing a Cleaning Schedule & Kid’s Chore Routine. This was huge for me. By creating a daily cleaning routine the housework never piles up and becomes this albatross around my neck. It makes it easy for me to whip through a room every morning and get the work done quickly. Giving the kids chores not only teaches them responsibility, it also shows them how to work together and function as part of a family unit. Plus, the kids doing the smaller chores frees up mom to take on the bigger projects. 


4. Limit Your Commitments. As one mom told me “there’s a fine line between being involved and being over-involved.” She was right. Lately I’ve found myself tired and stressed out with projects and time constraints pushing on me from all sides. I had to let go of a few projects and committees so I could focus on the ones that really matter to me and focus on my family. Being able to take a walk to the neighborhood playground for half an hour after dinner instead of rushing off to a meeting makes for a happier family and a more connected mom.


5. Break Large Jobs into Small Increments. Putting off bigger jobs because they are time intensive is something I do often but then they never get done. Breaking up the job by setting a timer for 10-15 minutes and doing as much as you can until the timer goes off is a great way to tackle big jobs. I did this with my Magazine Reference Binder– well, I’m still doing this with my magazine binder project. It’s nice to see some progress and I know the job is getting done even if it’s getting done slower than I would like. 


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

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