Monday, January 30, 2012

Family Room TV - Progress

Let me tell you a story about a dinosaur. A big, silver 32" dinosaur that ate about 1/2 of my family-room, space wise.

Then, one day, it refused to turn on. Now, I'm of the mind that I don't need to buy a new TV when I have a perfectly good working tv at home. But that doesn't mean I wasn't just a little bit happy when it died.

So we got a new fancy TV. And it hung out in the same location as the old TV, still eating up 1/2 of my family room. For about 4 weeks. The clutter gods were loving it.

And yes, this is what my family room normally looks like. *sigh* 2 year olds. So finally - FINALLY - we mounted it on the wall.

But, uh, what to do with the cable box and dvd player? Yeah - I had no plan for that. So as you can see below, we precariously put them on top of a slightly-too-small shelf with the cords draped everywhere. Still not much better. Although, I did get some more floor space finally. And by moving the TV from that corner, we could put the chair there, allowing for a more "out of the way" location for the toys. The many many toys.

So FINALLY this weekend, I put together a cheap $20 bookshelf that is the perfect depth to fit on the hearth. It can corral the boxes, as well as provide some extra storage for other bits of clutter.

We are calling this "progress" because obviously there are plans to have a true cord management system installed, but for the time being all the cords are out of the way of kids, and not easily accessible. And there is WAY more space.

You know the kicker? After having a neighbor help move the old dinosaur to the basement, Cedric decided to plug it in just to try it out. And it worked. Seriously. So now we have a tv in the basement play room.

And yes, I believe my TV pictures have shown you all the variety of programming we watch in our house - Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street, and Wonderpets!

Linked to Home Decor & Organizing Link Party @

Weekly Roundup and To-Do list - January 30th

Last Week's overview - What got done?

1. Christmas Decorations are packed up and put in storage. Finally!
2. Master Bathroom - under cabinet area & drawers completed!
3. New Media Shelf and temporary cable management for the TV area
4. New TV area in the play-room (more on that later)

What didn't get done:

1. The donation station. again. I have ideas in my head, but have not managed to complete them yet. Currently I am just keeping a cardboard box by the front door as a "donation" box, and when whatever Charity it is that comes by and picks stuff up is going through my neighborhood, I put it on the porch. I do have plans though. They just aren't completely formulated or executed.

2. Laundry. The bane of my existence. It is all washed, but i have piles and piles of clean laundry waiting to be put away and folded.

New to-do items for the week:

1. Toss junk in junk-drawer and organize
2. Clean under bed
3. Get rid of old medicine
4. Pull together all paperwork to complete your taxes
5. Tackle the clean laundry pile

Carry-over from last week:
1. The donation station

Inspirational Links

Junk Drawer Organizing

Link party with TONS of Junk Drawer examples
The How & Why of doing laundry every day

Other items of note this week:
"Pack This" list - comprehensive packing list for trips

Monday, January 23, 2012

Financial Organizing

Financial Organizing is one of those things where I once again use free software to really get an idea of things. One of my favorite tools to use is This is a simple aggregate software that dials in to individual bank accounts, credit card accounts, student loans, retirement, etc., to make checking accounts a one-stop-shop. (here is a review which goes more into detail with how mint works)

I pair this with my favorite tool of all time - google documents - where I have multiple google spreadsheets set up.

First, I have a simplified budget set up:

I have everything color coded (this works best for the way I think). Utilities are Green, Loans yellow, spending blue, saving orange, and income pink.

This is incredibly useful for me to gauge what my spending should / shouldn't be on a monthly basis.

The second useful item for me is my overall financial tracking spreadsheet. This is a sheet that goes through each day in the year. It keeps track of the overall balance of bank accounts, and is easy to "fill ahead" for the year. Think of it as a digital checkbook balancer. When I write a check, pay a bill, do anything - I input it into the spreadsheet.

I use simple rules to keep track - highlight yellow when the date / event has passed. Highlight blue when i write a check, and change it to yellow when the check clears. Highlight automatic payments (mortgage, student loan deductions) light purple, and change to yellow when they are pulled out of my account.

This spreadsheet works perfectly with because I can go sign on to, see what has cleared over the past day / week / however long it has been. And update my sheet accordingly.

(Also, if anyone wants a copy of the already-formatted spreadsheet - shoot me an email - i'm more than happy to share it!)

Edit: Linking to Home Decor & Organizing Link Party

Spices and Rubs and Extracts...oh my! :)

I decided to tackle the spice cupboard this morning. I'm definitely a few weeks off of the organization calendar, but I figure anything I get done is progress! The bottom two shelves in the cupboard by my stove house my spices, rubs, baking supplies, oils, etc. and it's always a hot mess!

I took everything off those shelves, combined spices (who needs five different boxes of cinnamon?) and re-organized. I am very pleased with the finished product. Everything is easy to find and you can actually turn the spice rack (top right) and the turn table (bottom left) to see what is included!

My goal for this week is to purge the extra stuff hanging out in our bedroom. We got a king-sized bed just before Christmas so things were just set aside, and our ginormous TV died (but it's still in our room), so there's lots to be done! Stay tuned for pics and progress! :)

Edit: Linking to Home Decor & Organizing Link Party

Week of January 28th - To-do list & Insperation

First - a look at last week:

What got done:
  • Go through spices & combine duplicates / throw away old spices - can you believe I have 4 paprikas? And they are all different brands so I know they were bought at different times! I haven't finished the full organization on this, but I was able to get rid of about 5 containers by combining duplicates.

What didn't get done:
  • The donation station. I'm beginning to formulate how exactly I want to do this. But its still on my to-do list. So I guess it will carry over to next week.
  • Put away Christmas decorations. Yikes. they are are 90% put away, but I haven't tackled the sun-room yet. This will hopefully be done by next week.
  • Declutter nightstand drawer.

New to-do items for the week:

  • Toss old skin care items
  • Get rid of hair items you never wear
  • To through master bathroom drawers / under sink area

Inspirational Links for the above projects:

Donation Station Links:

Bathroom Organization

Additional Inspirational Links from this week:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dog Area

Quick before / after of the dog area, featuring a table that I pulled out of the neighbor's trash. (yes, really). HA

We had a folding "crate" that we were using for a long time, and it was sloppy looking. worst of all, you could see in the sunroom from our family room.

When I saw this table on the side of the road I knew it was perfect for this. We don't use the crate to confine our dog - its just his "home", so no sides isn't a problem.

I love the view from the family room so much better now!

EDIT: This post has been linked to's Trash to Tresure link party.

IHeart Organizing

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Organized Kitchen Pantry

Our kitchen pantry is pretty much a black hole.  The shelves are quite deep, which I thought was a good thing, but things get lost.  It's very easy to just shove it all in there and push the doors shut, which is what we ususally do.  However, last Friday when I tried to "put away" pantry items, I found the doors wouldn't shut.  SO, I figured it was time to do some organization. 

I first took everything out and dumped anything that has been in there too long...which filled half a large black garbage bag.  Gross.  I then organized as I put things away.  Cans (found 10 cans of tuna!), oils, sauces, jars, and packets of rice on the top shelf.  Chips, pretzels, boxes of mixes, spice packets, and extra ketchup and dressings on the second shelf.  Pastas and cereals on the third shelf, along with cookbooks.  Large pots, more cereal, and extra paper products on the bottom.  I realized two things by doing this.  1...We have a LOT of food we can use to make dinner.  I need to use those things up.  2...Having a large pantry isn't so bad if you keep it neat.  I'm sure with three kids and a husband on the go it won't stay organized for long, but having an idea of what's in there is super helpful.  Now, what to do with those 10 cans of tuna?!  :)     

Monday, January 16, 2012

This week's to-do list & inspiration

Week of January 15th

  • Create a "Donation Station" (Transient items: gifts, donate, library, store returns)
  • Go through spices & combine duplicates / throw away old spices
  • Declutter / Dust cabinet tops (score for me - my cabinets are mounted to my ceiling!)
  • Declutter nightstand drawer
  • Go through freezer and throw away old food
  • Put away all Christmas decorations!!!!

A few good organizing links from this past week:
One Year of organizing checklists

9 easy ways to eliminate clutter

Friday, January 13, 2012

Organizing in the digital age - family style

This post is going to be a basic review of how free online software helps me keep everythign together.

The first, and 100% most important tool for me, is google. You might even say that google is running my life right now. Between gmail, google calendar, android phones, and even my TV, google is everywhere I look.

Google Calendar allows for multiple people to view the calendar, and is easy to add appointments to on-the-go (even from a "dumb" phone). Also, you can set up different calendars under one account, with different permissions for each calendar. Personally, I have my main calendar which is for personal use. I have a calendar set up for work, that syncs automatically with my outlook at work. And I have a calendar set up for each of my kids. This way, at a glance, I can easily see schedules and availabilities for everyone. My husband also has a calendar that he has granted me access to, so I view his availability as well.

My utter dependance on google calendar makes me this much more excited about a new program I found - called Cozi. This program is a "family organizer" and allows for my google calendar to be viewed through the program. (I don't use the program to input / change my google calendar - just to view it in certain mediums). But the best part about the program is the shared "to do" list and the shared grocery list.

It is accessible on a smart phone (both android and apple), and since it is a shared family account - I can be anywhere and think of something I want to add to our grocery list, and just type it in. Likewise, my husband can be at the grocery store - pull up the grocery list - and there is whatever I changed / added.

I found this program because we recently bought a google tv, and this is an app on the TV as well. Which means when we turn on the TV, on the "home" screen (how crazy is that to say?) is a short summary of our calendars, the grocery list, and the "to do" list. And if its on the TV, we will all see it! (I tried to take a picture of the tv, and it didn't turn out so well... you can see the blocks, but not the content - left is calendar, middle is groceries, and right is to-do list)

The program also has a meal planner and a journal that we don't use.

All-in-all - I'm loving the program so far. We'll see how well we stick to it!