Archive for the ‘Organizing’ Category

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200

Monday, July 6th, 2015

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

If you have learned anything from my past posts, you know that my desire is to make the most of every corner in our little home. Small space living requires works especially when want you make each room as functional as possible. I love how much it challenges me and today I wanted to show how we made over a neglected closet into a closet office as a birthday gift for our soon-to-be teen son. As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them to show how to help someone create a new space so today we are showing off our ideas for small space office that we think would work beautifully in a closet in your home. The best part is that this makeover cost us under $200 to pull off!

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

My son’s room is small and his closet is pint size like our’s (thus why I embraced the fashion capsule project so much).  Over time though, we have learned that these closets are just right for us and this closet wasn’t getting a lot of use now in his room. We had pulled his dresser in there to save space, but you can see how beautifully that all worked out (ahem!). Too small clothing and the piles of clothes given to this kid to put away in his drawers on laundry day had created a mountain of a mess. The first step was to weed through the pile and, with our recent growth spurt, we were able to whittle this pile down to nothing and give our great stuff to someone in need. The dresser was relocated to the end of our bed which freed the space up entirely for a new purpose.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

The hard part with this makeover was just getting this space prepped and ready for its new purpose. We removed all the old closet hardware and trim, painted the walls in our favorite shade of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (leftover paint from our shed makeover last summer) and sanded down the old eighties paint job on the high shelf to create a more distressed wood look to the shelf.

Here’s a fun fact! We found a little boy’s name scrawled on the side of the wood when we took it off the shelf. That is one of the best parts about having an older house…the sweet discoveries of little things like that add to its charm. We, of course, left it there for someone else to discover one day.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

Pictured Above: Better Homes & Gardens Traditional Task Lamp ($22.56)/ Mainstays Parsons Desk With Drawer ($53.53)/ Mainstays Contemporary Office Chair  ($45.00) /Mainstays Canvas Ironwork Curtain Panel ($11.18)/ Better Homes & Gardens Boule Bronze Curtain Rod ($25.38)

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

We hung a single curtain panel that helped frame the space and also could be a way to hide the inevitable chaos that will happen on this desk. As you can see, we hung the bar high to help prevent our chair from rolling into our curtains and also to make this tiny space feel bigger.

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

On the side, we moved our hamper so it is tucked away for tossing our clothes into. A giant pegboard was added to the wall for odds & ends and any art we want to display.  I hung his favorite hat on top of a thumbtack that I had pushed in. This sign made him laugh so we thought it would be a cute touch (found at Hobby Lobby). A task lamp with extension cord creates a well-lit space for doing our homework in this space.

Happy 13th birthday, Ethan! We hope you create your next artistic masterpiece in this new space we have created for you! Thank you BHG at Walmart for the fun challenge this month! We couldn’t be more thrilled with our space and to create a new purpose to a once cluttered closet!

How to Make a Closet Office For Under $200 from MomAdvice.com.

Live-Better-Network-Badge

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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Amy’s Notebook 05.20.15: M Challenge Technology Syllabus

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

m-challenge

Note: As a wrap-up of each month’s m challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will serve as a one stop shopping for the theme that you can refer to as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

May M Challenge: Focus on Technology

Other Links for Using & Managing Technology:

Efficiency Apps via Buzzfeed

Source: BuzzFeed

 

Great list of apps that will make you more efficient.

20 tech hacks – game-changing secrets for the stuff we use daily.

How to use The Cloud to organize your life.

Do you think you could go paperless?

List of top apps to try this year!

Ways to organize your home with Evernote.

Tips to maximize the power of Gmail.

How to make your Wi-Fi signal stronger.

 

Driven-by-Decor-Hack-an-Office-Organizer-to-Create-a-Super-Convenient-Family-Charging-Station

Source: Driven By Decor

 

DIY a decor-worthy charging station for the whole family.

Or dedicate a mudroom cabinet for family electronics.

Simple ways to declutter your online life.

An app to help kids earn screen time – and helps parents manage it!

10 tips to keep technology from taking over your family’s life.

How to talk to teens about distracted driving from smartphones.

17 apps that can save you money.

Could you detox from your smartphone in 7 days?

5 easy steps to clean up & organize your desktop computer.

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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The Top 7 Apps to Organize Your Life

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Note: In honor of our M Challenge focus on Technology, I’m reposting this because I still can’t live without my iPhone, and these apps are still some of my top favs! Please chime in with any you use now, too!

If you asked me the one thing that I could not live without, it would be my iPhone. Today I want to share the top iPhone apps that have organized my life and my family. This gadget has brought more organization to my life than I dreamed possible and is what I rely on daily to tackle the day-to-day tasks as a mom. Of course, you don’t have to have an iPhone to benefit from these apps, almost all of these are available to any smartphone user. Here are my top 7 apps to get your family organized.

Cozi App

Cozi

Whenever I talk about the best apps to organize a family, I always think of Cozi first. Over the years, this app has evolved so much and fits perfectly into our family’s everyday needs. Cozi is a calendar app that is made with a mom in mind. It is easy to use, color-coded (for each family member), includes pictures of your sweet little ones, helps you with your grocery list, and offers text message alerts to you for appointment reminders…all from one central location.

My favorite feature that has saved our family countless fees and embarrassment is their text reminder service. When I input our family’s appointments, I can have a text sent to myself or to my husband that reminds us about that appointment. The reminders can come whenever you designate them (one hour ahead, one day ahead, one week ahead, etc..).  Does your child have jean day at school? Super silly hair day?  Little things like that are even input in this handy calendar and a text reminder goes out to me first thing in the morning to save my children from their mom’s forgotten dollar or the super exciting monthly “skip your uniform,” day.

(Free. Available for the iPad, iPhone, or Android.)

 

Mint

If you are looking to get your family’s finances back on track this year, my favorite and most reliable financial reporting comes from Mint. Mint can be set up through your home computer, your smart phone, or tablet.  An account with Mint can be set up in less than five minutes and gives you the chance to set budgets to your spending categories and track them with handy pie charts and graphs. In one glance, you can monitor your checking, savings, investments, and retirement at any moment during the day.

Most of the spending categories are immediately categorized for you while unfamiliar categories (like your favorite local restaurant or doctor’s visit) may need a quick categorization for accurate reporting. For tax purposes, you can also tag items for reimbursement so that it can help later when filing your taxes.

The best part, I have found, is that Mint will alert you via email when spending or withdrawals seem high. Did the mortgage company take out an extra payment? Did you have an unusually high amount of withdrawals in one month? Was a large deposit made? Mint sends you an email to alert you of unusual transactions happening in your account which could potentially save you from being the victim of credit card fraud.

(Free. Available for most devices.)

 

Grocery IQ

Making and sticking to your grocery lists has never been easier thanks to the Grocery IQ app. With Grocery IQ you can type, speak, or scan grocery list items into your list. The list automatically adds your items into categories and then alerts you if coupons are available for any items you might be adding to your list. Coupons can then be sent to your email when your list has been made or (if you have a wireless enabled printer) can be sent to your printer for printing. As you gather your items from your list, simply check it off and the item moves to the bottom of the list. Once your whole list is complete, everything is shifted towards the bottom and then can simply be clicked to add those repeat items back on the list for your next visit.

Since I always have my phone with me,  switching to an electronic grocery list has been much easier than I thought it would be. The coupon feature helps save our family money on items we were already planning to buy and the list helps keep our family budget on track. I also love that I can sync my list from my iPad to my iPhone so I can use whichever device I have handy to add items when we need them.

(Free. Available for the iPad, iPhone, or Android.)

Evernote

If you are trying to stop the paper pile-up from school, Evernote is a fantastic tool for  clipping and saving those papers in one spot that you can access from your phone or computer. When items come home to us that I might need to reference for our family later, like the cafeteria lunch schedule or the recess schedule, I can either take a photo of what I need or I can scan that item into Evernote and tag it with, “School,” for easy reference.

Things that I often refer back to, like our library card numbers, gift card numbers that I want to store on my computer, receipts for purchases, or even keeping track of the books my children are reading in a particular series are all housed in my Evernote account for easy accessibility when I need them.

No more scraps of paper all over the house or hanging on to newsletters for one paragraph of information, Evernote has become my virtual notebook to keep us organized.

(Free. Available on most devices.)

SpringPad

Menu planning can be a challenge for families and keeping track of all of those recipes you want to try can be a challenge when your Pinterest boards are overflowing with ideas. I have come to rely upon SpringPad for creating our family’s weekly menu plan. I think of SpringPad as a virtual notebook where you can privately or publicly share things you want to reference to manage your life. Notebooks can be created on any topic, but I create weekly notebooks of menu plans for my family, adding those recipes into a notebook so that I can reference them later, whether I am cooking in the kitchen or I am at the grocery store and not sure if I added all the ingredients to my list like I thought.

Depending on how the recipe is input into the source, SpringPad will either pull the recipe right into your notebook so you can view it right from the notebook, you can manually add in the recipe, or a link to the recipe will be provided so you can access it from the page you found it.

(Free. Available on most devices.)

30/30

Setting a timer to get tasks done around the house is an old school method that works remarkably well for productivity that has now been brought to the future with this 30/30 app for organizing your day.  The idea behind this app is very simple: you work for thirty minutes and focus on a single task with no distractions. When your time is up, you give your mind a break and do something completely unrelated, also for thirty minutes. This 30/30 cycle is repeated until your tasks are done.

Type in what your ideal day will look like including blocking out times for a little down time like enjoying a cup of coffee, time wasting on sites like Facebook or Pinterest, or just time with a great book.  Then set up what the rest of your productive day will look like and use the 30/30 app to visualize if you are going to get your tasks done in the designated time.  It provides a countdown and a visual reminder of what you are working on and beeps when your time is done. Simple, visually pleasing, and highly effective, I can’t recommend this app enough to increase your productivity.

(Free. Available for the iPad or iPhone.)

8MM Vintage Camera

Capturing my children on-the–go is one of the main reasons I decided to get an iPhone. While I rely heavily on Instagram for capturing still images of our family from day-to-day I also love to capture movies of them.  Although we have many fancy camcorders laying around our house, the one recorder I always have with me is my phone. I am a huge fan of vintage looking film and pictures so I have found that the  8MM vintage camera app is a fun way to add a little vintage to our family’s most precious recorded moments.

($1.99. Available for the iPad or iPhone)

What are your favorite apps for keeping your family organized? Chime in here and share your family’s favorite tools!

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Free Printable Chore & Tech Time Tickets

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Tech-Chore Tickets Free Printable Note: Originally published in 2012, these tickets have continued to be a wonderful way to monitor both screen time and chores with our kids in a sort of “hands-off” way (meaning, it’s not up to me to keep reminding!). With our focus on technology m challenge, it seemed perfect to share again for those of you who are looking for a better way to manage screen time and make sure chores actually get done.

My husband created this great printable for summertime chores and monitoring computer time with the kids that I’m excited to share with you- free printable chore and tech time tickets. The tech hours punch-tickets in particular have helped both us and the kids know how much time they’re spending on technology. They can be printed and used with a simple hole punch to signify if the child has used their tech time or has completed their chores.

I really wanted to spend quality time with my kids this summer and I find that screen-time really distracts them from our time together. These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting. And they work hand-in-hand since the tech time can’t be redeemed until the chores are completed, so it’s a win-win.

How We Use The Tickets

– Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house.

– The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

– Punch the ticket itself at the end of the day, BUT morning chores have to be completed to redeem the first hour of time, then evening chores are completed and the second hour can be used.

As an example, this is what our list of chore activities to be completed looked like when my children were 10 and 6(alter as needed for your kids and needs):

6 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, sweep (with a quick vac) under the table after each meal, meal helper every other night, (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with laundry sorting.

10 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, wipe down both bathrooms, meal helper every other night (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with loading and unloading of laundry.

Reward- $5 weekly

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television.

A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

I will not lie, the first day was ROUGH. Two hours does go by quickly for everyone. That said, after the initial two days, we have really been enjoying our time together. We keep busy with fun outings and tackling our summer bucket list together. I find that breaking the day up with an outing seems to make the day go by faster and takes the focus off of the lack of screen time.

Today my son said, “Wow, that hour was really long!”  It was funny how he was whining about the hour being too short the first day. I think we were all losing track of how much time we were spending on our respective screens.

Everyone parents differently. This parenting strategy works for us and I hope it will help someone else out there too!

I didn’t want to waste anytime getting these printables out to you though because they are quickly becoming a valuable part of our summer time together and I think they could be valuable to you too!

Grab your Printable Chore Tickets.

Grab your Printable Tech Tickets.

 

Notes on the printable- There are three tickets per sheet. These are color tickets, but you can switch your printer settings to black-and-white or draft mode to save on ink.

 

How do you monitor screen time in your house? What does a typical chore list look like for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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How To Use A Home Management Binder

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

How To Use a Home Management Binder

Have you been using our free home management binder printables yet? I thought it would be good during this m challenge month of Loving Your Home to revisit the home binder that I lovingly call our family “Bible” for the way that it has become indispensable for keeping us organized (and me sane!). It’s hard to love where you’re at if nothing seems to be working right and I’ve found that keeping a list of to-dos (both what we have to do and wish to do) can help you feel like you’re moving in the right direction – creating a place that truly feels like ‘home’ for your family.

A well-designed binder helps you manage everything in your household in one place. After a number of years using a home management binder, here’s the way that I’ve found it works best:

How to Use a Home Management Binder

~ Keep the binder in a central location in your home where everyone can access it

~ Include your family calendar and keep it up-to-date

~ Add important contact information that you want to have at a moment’s notice (particularly for someone who might babysit)

~ Use it as a meal-planner with weekly meal plans, grocery lists and a price sheet, as well as a list of family favorites (when the family’s raving about the meal, easily jot it down in the binder and you’ll have your family’s favorite dishes at your fingertips to make future meal planning easier!)

~ Add sheets that you need to run your family’s finances smoothly, like budgeting and planning for large purchases.

~ Use it as a central To-Do list for your home, both routine maintenance and any plans for updates. I’ve loved being able to see how far we’ve come and all the improvements we’ve made to help make our house into a home we love!

 

How to Set Up a Home Management Binder

~ I recommend this binder, both for it’s size and the view pockets for the outside.

~ Then purchase a set of pocketed dividers where you can tuck important information that you might need to easily find. When school starts, in particular, you will find your mailbox filled with fliers for events, important forms that need to be filled out, appointment reminders, and invitations. Instead of piling them on a desk or tacking them on the fridge, use the pockets so you always know where to find these items when you need them.

~ Keep an extra pocket or two in the back for the randomness in life- consider it another junk drawer, if you will.

~ I have also found that a good spot in the home for daily reference is in your family’s command center.

~ Print out any header pages for sections on heavy-duty cardstock so that they can hold up to the abuse of being referenced daily.

Family-Management-Binder-Collage

Of course, you can use any printables you want, but we are pretty attached to ours! Our set of binder printables is free to all who subscribe to our weekly newsletter simply by entering your email below or in the sidebar. We will then send you the link to your packet as our thank you for being a subscriber (look for it in the final welcome email). The binder set includes the following pages:

  • Family Budget Pages
  • Grocery Price Sheet
  • Grocery List Sheet
  • Menu Planner Sheet
  • Family Calendar
  • To-Do List
  • Contact Sheet
  • Header Pages for Each Section

Wondering about our newsletter? The Mom Advice newsletters are a recap of all the happenings for the week and will make sure you never miss a post. It’s also where our subscribers can access the free printables and any additional freebies that we may offer ONLY TO NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS.  It is beautiful, simple, mobile-friendly, and fast to scroll through.  I promise, I will never send you junk. I know your time is valuable and so is mine- I am committed to a very useful newsletter!

Note: If you can’t seem to get the form below to work with your browser, just look over to your right in the sidebar. You will see a handy form there too that works with all browsers! We appreciate you so much! Thank you! 

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 This post contains affiliate links.

 

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Our Bathroom Makeover Reveal

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

Spring is in the air and with it comes my urge to continue creating a beautiful space in our home that we will love for many years. Today I wanted to show off a space that we recently renovated and how we brought our ideas to life  in this space.  As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them this month to showcase how you can add a new color into your home utilizing the products from BHG that are available at Walmart.  For me, the color that we are working to add into our home happens to be gray and so this month’s feature is all about that beautiful hue and how I was able to accessorize my new space with their help. Before we accessorize though, let’s take a look at some before and after pictures of our space.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Here are a few before pictures of our basement bathroom that we planned to renovate. This was actually the first room that we did ourselves when we moved into our home eleven years ago. When we purchased the home the original room actually had about four layers of wallpaper on it that we attempted to remove and then discovered mildew had been residing between the layers making all of that drywall unusable. The previous owners had used it as a laundry room,  but it lacked the ventilation needed to keep mildew at bay. We had one of my husband’s uncles and his father help us rip all of the walls and put in new ones which was a really big job for these newbie homeowners. We were on a tight budget so we added sticky tile flooring and my husband added this wainscoting detail on the wall with a ledge. With a coat of paint, we were satisfied with this space.

As our kids get older (and the sticky tiles began to shift beneath our feet), I started dreaming about how we could transform this half bath into a full bath so that we could have two showers in our home instead of one. I have never had two showers in one space in my entire existence so entertaining this idea was, seriously, exciting for me. I began to put together my vision boards for this space. After all, if we can turn our old storage shed into the bonus room of my dreams, why couldn’t we do the same in this little space? If there is one thing I have learned about renovating our tri-level home, it is that every corner must be looked at with potential. Why shouldn’t this empty bathroom corner become a fully functional shower for our family?

My inspiration came from this photo on Houzz. After putting together a million idea for my husband, we sat down one night and both agreed that this is the style of the bathroom we wanted. The best part was that the Hilton Head Island Architects & Building Designers took the time to answer everyone’s questions about the materials that were used in this room. I jotted down some notes and took these ideas to All Pro Renovations to see if we could make something like this happen in our space.
Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

 

Here were the original ideas that I wanted for this space. You will see that I rethought some of this (even frantic texts as close to midnight on the paint color). The initial ideas though of a ceiling with a 1×8 v-groove pine with fresh trim were painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove, the standard (3×6) subway tile on the walls, additional lighting was added, and the standard hex tile with a gray grout all ended up being implemented in our space.

To save on cost, we ended up just using a shower purchased from our local hardware store, ditched the sconce lighting (since we added additional lighting in our fan), and gave up the idea of raising the ceiling since it was going to be another $1,500 or so just to reroute some of the heating & ventilation that were all funneling through this room.

In an effort to interject a little color, I ended up painting the walls in Benjamin Moore Gray Owl which kept things fresh and modern, without looking unfinished or the fear of a dirty white walls and white flooring/tile.

 

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Can you believe this corner was just sitting there unused and now houses a pretty generous stand-up shower? Although we had talked about making this a custom unit, I am so happy with this unit we purchased that was all ready to go from our hardware store.

 

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

How gorgeous is this new space? Would you ever guess that this is in the lower level of our home? Although the ceiling is slightly lower with the addition of the pine planks, you really don’t feel closed in due to the lines of the boards and the fresh white paint. We left our existing fixtures and lighting in, but did add a light that looked almost identical to our original that added a fan in the space. We had a medicine cabinet installed that helped add additional storage and also provided extra mirrors for getting ready in the morning.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

To add more pops of gray and to organize our space, I headed to Walmart to snag some new additions to the space. These included some beautiful plush towels in gray flannel,  some modern chevron print towels for our hand towels,  new jars to organize the odds & ends in our storage unit, and the perfect cushy chevron bath mat for our feet. This brought more of the gray in and added those modern touches that I wanted for our space.

Bathroom Makeover Reveal from MomAdvice.com.

I’m so proud of our new space and love the fresh new colors that we are bringing in to our home! Thank you to All Pro Renovations for the beautiful workmanship they did in this space!

 

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

 

The Power of Living Small

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

The Power of Living Small from MomAdvice.com

Small space living comes with many challenges, but the rewards for a family on a budget are great. For a long time I considered our smaller home a temporary means to get us by until we could afford more.  As the years have gone by though, I have truly discovered the power of living in a smaller house and making the most of what we have been given. I can fully admit though, that it is all about our approach towards making our space our own, more than it is about the amount of square footage in our house.

Small space is all relative, of course, isn’t it? In full discretion, our home is 1,500 square feet for our family of four. While that may sound like a lot or a little, the space is made smaller and more challenging with a tri-level floor plan. If it was spread on one or two levels, I am sure it would feel much larger. I think it has been the floor plan that is more of a challenge than the square footage of our home. Regardless, spatial challenges have existed and we have learned a lot from working through them.

One thing that people remark on though is how our home doesn’t feel small at all and I recently had a visitor who said she was so impressed with how efficient our home was (world’s best compliment- by the way!). I attribute it to one part renovation, one part smarter selections for our home, and one part major clutter-busting. The investments that we have made have given us a new appreciation for our space and have helped us fall in love with this house.

Now if we moved, I know I would never be as happy as I am right here.

That’s a good feeling to have.

Regardless of your square footage though, I wanted to share with you a few ideas for learning to embrace the power of living in the space you are in right now. There is so much that I have learned over the years about making our home the best that we can and I wanted to share with you some ideas on how to make the most of the space you are in right now.

Transforming-Corners-In-Your-Home-15

Reconsider Your Furniture

Furniture can truly make a room feel larger or smaller depending on the size of it and the purpose it serves in your home. Our larger furniture that we purchased for our previous home was not well-suited for the home we had now, but replacing it was not a cost that we could really afford.

Instead, consider scaling back on the amount of furniture you have in your rooms. Do you truly use the side tables in your home? Is the coffee table really needed or would your space benefit from an ottoman that could serve as dual storage? Try removing pieces of furniture from the room and see if they make the flow of the space feel bigger.

The Power of Living Small from MomAdvice.com

When you do replace furniture, try buying items that could serve as a dual purpose or could maximize your smaller rooms. Our ottoman in our family room is the perfect place to tuck our record collection in our home, for example. One piece, but two functions to everything helps to make the most of the corners in our home.  The furniture, as we have begun to replace it, serves multipurposes like beds with bookcase and drawer storage.

Basement Before 2

Cut the Clutter in Half

The best part about living in a smaller space is that it has forced me to edit the belongings I have and has kept me from buying as much as I would in a larger space. If your home closets that are small, if you don’t have a basement, if there is no garage…than these situations can truly work for you as a way to keep your clutter naturally under control. Here is my spot where I like to throw things I don’t know what to do with- we all have ‘em. I am a work in progress just like the next person, but I am proud to say that I have reduced our clutter by 50% this year thanks to a few new decluttering & minimizing challenges I have embraced.

Lately I have been trying to live my life by the infamous quote from William Morris, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” If it is not bringing beauty or usefulness to my space, then I can feel good about passing those items on to someone else in need.  Suddenly, my kitchen counters feel spacious, the basement really does have a spot for everything in storage, and the house really does have enough space for us all. It’s all about perspective and investing in the things you really do want in life.

Consider making a weekly date with yourself to devote an hour towards improving one spot in your home that you struggle with. If it is a drawer that never opens, an office that is filled with useless papers, a basement that has become an avalanche of misplaced items, spend your hour making those spots in your home better. Make it a goal to cut the clutter in half in these spots to make them more livable and enjoyable.

The Power of Living Small from MomAdvice.com

Make Wise Renovation Investments

Once you cut the clutter in your home, you can begin dreaming of new ways to use that freed up space. Renovating your home can be costly, but it is not as costly as it is to buy a brand new home. The best part is that you can take your time with it and tackle one corner at a time, personalizing it to your own personal style. If there is a particular area in your home you want to improve, consider getting an estimate to make your space more livable. Many homes have unused corners and smaller spaces that could be improved upon to make the home more livable.

Our little house got a much needed renovation to make our space work for us for many years to come that has been one of the wisest investments we have ever made.  With one wall knocked out and putting unused basement storage to work, our home was renovated into a spacious family room and a quiet home office in the basement. Each year we tackle one project (at least) to make our home look and feel spacious and loved. We have updated our backyard shed into a useable bonus space, we did a beautiful stamped patio & firepit that could act as an extension to our indoor space outdoors, and we added little things like a fireplace in the office that cozy up the home, and knocked out walls to let the sunshine in through big open windows. As we speak, we are adding a shower to our little guest bathroom so that we can make this home a two bath house.

With a ’60’s home, there will always be projects, but I actually love the dreaming and scheming of making these spaces in our house uniquely us.

As my husband’s grandmother says when she visits us, “I love coming here because there is just always something new to look at!” That is probably a very true statement since we are always working on our little fixer-upper.

Begin really thinking about the space you are in and how you could make it work for your family. Look for guidance in home magazines or consider spending the money on having an architect coming to evaluate your home to draw up a plan for making more out of the space you are currently in. You may be surprised to discover how much more square footage you might have right where you already are.

Family-2014-1

Make Your Space Feel Permanent

If you look at your home as a temporary place until you find something better, you might be overlooking the chance to really make the space you are in work for your family. I found that when I finally told myself that this was my home (whether I liked it or not) and put the elbow grease into it, it transformed not only the space…but my attitude towards it.  As with all things in life, it is what you make it and I am choosing to make it the best that I truly can!

If you are living in a smaller home or apartment, just remember to consider your blessings. Not only do you have a mortgage or monthly payment that you can afford, but you have less of a home to clean, a natural way to edit the excess from your life, and more importantly….cozier quarters that force your family to always be together. What could be better for a family than that?

We have a sign hanging in our home that reads, “Small homes grow tight families.” It is truly my belief that  our little house fosters just the kinds of relationships that I want with the best people in my life.  I can continue to maximize the square footage on the existing space, but I love the togetherness that our smaller space brings.

How have you learned to embrace the space you are in right now?

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Declutter Your Space & Rid Your Life of Clutter Forever

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

How to Declutter Your Home from MomAdvice.com

This year I went on a journey towards being truly serious about decluttering our home of unnecessary items. I would conservatively say that we have reduced our belongings easily by 50% and I still feel that there is more that we can do this year. Is your dream to declutter your space this year and rid yourself of clutter forever? It is a common resolution and I am living proof that this is achievable, although I will always be a work in progress. Please avert your eyes from my basement storage area & garage for a bit (ahem!).

Today I want to share with you a few resources that have helped our family on the journey towards reclaiming our home- the transformation is so worth it! These are the resources I used to start the journey towards a clutter free space and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Join me on the Goodwill Tips blog today to learn how to declutter your space & rid your life of clutter forever!

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Healthy Fridge Makeover {& No-Bake Energy Bites}

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Healthy Fridge Makeover_1

As I shared with you, when I attended college I lived on junk & convenience food and I had the inevitable “Freshman 15,” to prove it from my bad eating habits throughout the year. I only wish I knew how great I would have felt and how much better I would have performed if I had stocked my fridge with healthy options.

Now I know that there are healthy ideas for stocking your refrigerator – whether it’s a dorm sized mini-fridge, your first apartment fridge, or the huge family-sized fridge many of us graduate to – and I’m making sure that my kids do know that the foods that are good for your body are easy to keep on hand, too. In this healthy fridge makeover, I’m sharing easy ways to keep good-for-you foods within reach along with a recipe for a quick to make no-bake energy bite that you can mix up in a bowl for easy snacks on-the-go that both kids and adults love.

Healthy Fridge Makeover_2 Eggs- Eggs are the perfect food for starting your day out right or for a healthy late night snack. Did you know that you can prepare an egg easily in the microwave with no special equipment at all? Simply spray or grease a bowl to prepare it and crack two eggs in it with a tablespoon of milk and whisk well with a fork. Place your bowl of eggs in the microwave and cook for one minute. Give it another little scramble with your fork and then cook for thirty second intervals, until your eggs reach the desired consistency. That’s it! Don’t forget that you can add your own fun add-ins to this versatile food like chopped up veggies, cheeses, or meats.

Berries- Berries are a great item to keep on hand to eat as a side, to grab by the handful for a quick snack, mixed in with a cup of Greek yogurt, or as a topper to a bowl of instant oatmeal in the morning. Cut berries can also be added to a water bottle and then allowed to steep overnight to create a healthy & inexpensive infused water.

Veggies- Cut veggies are the perfect item to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack. Some of my favorites for snacking are peppers (in every color), carrot sticks, celery sticks, & cauliflower. Pair these veggies with your favorite dips like a nut butter with celery or dip them in hummus for an easy snack.

Nut Butters & Nuts- Nothing is quicker or easier than keeping a package of nuts on hand for snacking. Did you know that you can even freeze nuts? Grab an extra package and store it in your freezer, up to six months, to make sure they don’t go rancid. Try a new variety like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or cashews for a little variety. These can also be added to bowls of instant oatmeal in the morning or mixed into a salad for a crunch topping.

Nut butters are great for an accompaniment to celery or cut apples. My own favorite nighttime snack is peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast with a glass of almond milk before I go to bed. It’s a satisfying and inexpensive snack!

Hummus- There are many different flavors and varities now of hummus and it is the perfect snack or spread to add to pitas or even smeared as a topping for your favorite sandwich. My favorite variety is the Red Pepper Hummus with sliced cucumbers or pita for an effortless snack.

String Cheese- String cheese is one of those grab-and-go snacks that I love to keep on hand in our fridge. Chop these up to add to your eggs to add a little cheesiness to your egg dishes without investing in bags of shredded cheese or wrap cheese with whole grain bread and a little deli meat into a “sushi” roll for a quick sandwich that can make lunches special.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites Energy Bites- No-bake energy bites are a fun snack to have on hand when you are craving a treat with a little sweetness. We all adore these at my house! The best part is that they don’t require an oven or mixer, making these an easy treat to make…and to eat! Did I mention it tastes an awful like cookie dough too? Yum!

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_3

No-Bake Energy Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  3. Once chilled, simply roll into balls.
  4. Store these in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_2

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The First Aid Essentials Every Mom Needs (Free Printables) & a $100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

A fresh new year is a great time to  not only declutter our homes of unnecessary items, but it is also a great time to stock up on life’s daily essentials. Emergency preparation has been something that has been on my mind these days and with the focus of our site being on health/wellness for the m challenge, I thought this would be a great time to address my poorly stocked First Aid Kit, a unique way to package it for the home, and I would love to give you the chance to win a gift card of $100 to create one yourself out of products from BHG at Walmart.  What do I know about First Aid essentials and preparedness. It turns out, not much.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit: ER Doctor Jamie Shoemaker

I am not an expert on emergencies and emergency situations, but lucky for me, I actually happen to know an ER doctor in town who has seen his fair share of emergencies at his hospital. Dr. Jamie Shoemaker is an ER Doctor for Elkhart General Hospital and GRACIOUSLY offered his expert opinion on what every mom should have in her First Aid Kit to be prepared for emergency situations.

It should come as no surprise that I barely had the bandages and cream category covered.

Ahem.

On his list of First Aid essentials, he suggested different size bandages, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Hydrocortisone creme, Triple antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, nasal bulbsuction, syringes for oral med admin, tweezers, tape, gauze of varying sizes, Ace wraps, aloe, nail clippers, antiseptic wipes, instant cold compresses, scissors, pairs of non latex gloves, thermometer, splint, safety pins, calamine lotion, flashlight, blanket, tooth preservation
kit, contact lenses saline and case and a first aid manual.

Don’t worry- we have a printable for all of this for you to take when you head to the store.

He also noted that aspirin should be avoided in children due to Reye’s syndrome so he did not include it on this list for moms.

Thank you, Dr. Shoemaker, for helping us get prepared for emergencies in this new year.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

I headed to Walmart with his list and wanted to stock up on every item, but also knew that I had to find a pretty way to package it. Thankfully, the BHG product line at Walmart offer a variety of cute totes, baskets, and other organizer essentials. Since I have nowhere to tuck my First Aid kit, it will rest on top of our little bathroom storage unit, on display for our guests. I wanted something attractive for storage so I settled on this handy Better Homes & Gardens Chesapeake Magazine Basket for under $13 that housed all of these fabulous First Aid essentials with ease and kept them tucked away without anyone knowing what is in there. How perfect is that?

Emergency preparedness is such an essential part of running a household and I know that this is something I should work on in our home. Whether it is being prepared with a bandage and some cream for the neverending injuries in our home or making sure our home is stocked with candles and flashlights for our neverending power outages or even more seriously, the need for disaster preparedness with canned foods and water…

Let’s face it, this stuff tends to fall on the shoulders of many mothers.

I know it falls on mine.

I can admit that I have done a pretty lousy job at stuff like that, but this year I want to do better and I want to encourage you to do better too. This month, the m challenge isn’t just about focusing on our own needs, but also on the needs of those we love. I hope this little push can help you this year to address key needs in your own household.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

(just a screenshot- click below for the printable please!)

I have prepared for you a FREE printable list of First Aid Essentials that you can take to the store of all the recommendations Dr. Shoemaker offers for us.  There is no need to stress about being prepared this year- we have you covered!

Enter below to win one $100 Walmart Gift Card from BHG at Walmart to stock your First Aid Kit for the new year. One lucky winner will receive this gift card to stock up on all the essentials. This giveaway ends on January 21st! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Live-Better-Network-Badge

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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