Thursday, March 6, 2014

Maybe She's Born With It.....

Or maybe she's not.  So maybe instead, she buys tons and tons of products to try to fake that she's born with it. 
Just sayin'.
You'll see what I mean.
Okay, so I know I have been MIA.  That's not really the case though.  It's more like I've been GIBOS.  What's that????  GOING INSANE BECAUSE OF SNOW!!!!
I can't handle the snow anymore.  I know I live in PA and this is somewhat "normal" I guess, but I'm not cut out for it.  I need to see grass.  I need the temperature to be above 32 degrees on a consistent basis.  Little things, really.  
Anyway, because of the snow, we have been trapped inside.  Because we have been trapped inside, we have been making messes.  It's like "if you give a mouse a cookie" thing just leads to the next.  It's been bad, but I think things are turning around.  The last storm missed us, so there is hope that even Mother Nature is sick of throwing snow at us.
Enough complaining and excuses though.  Onward and upward, right?
So, I saw this thing on Facebook called Forty Bags in Forty Days and I was instantly all about it.  You can read about it here:
The concept is just what it sounds like.  Get rid of 40 bags of stuff in 40 days.  The days happen to coincide with Lent, but you can do this regardless of your religion.  

I started yesterday with my LONG overdue Master Bath re-haul.  I have had bags, (you know the ones-the cute little gift with purchase bags and travel makeup bags) FILLED with random make-up items that I have held onto for WAY too long.  Why?  I really have no clue.  Maybe in OFF chance that I would need metallic silver eyeshadow again?  That happens oh so much around here (insert sarcastic snort)
I decided, after nagging my 8 year old to stop hoarding things, that maybe I should take my own advice and set an example. are some before pictures.  Let's just analyze together, shall we?

Here is a peek at all the random bags.  I wasn't joking.  They were all full of stuff too.  It looks like at one point, they were dedicated to certain things, but that went out the window.  NONE of this was used on a daily basis.  Not even an monthly basis!

Moving on.... All of THESE were found in a bin that had a label on it that said "lotions".  I remember that label maker.  It was before kids.  Check out what was taking up the most space:

Sigh...I love me a self tanner.  But 9 different ones?  Um...overkill.

I complain on a DAILY basis about not being able to find a rubber band for my hair, and often have hot pink ones from my daughter's in my hair.  Shouldn't have that problem anymore!

Same thing with bobby pins.  

So you want to see what filled my first bag for the challenge?  Pretty much ALL of this:
(do you see the multiple containers with blue eyeshadow?  Why, just why?  I know I bought some when Emily was an Egyptian for Halloween.  Then I bought MORE when Allie was an Egyptian, but still....why?)

"My name's Janell....I love lipstick.  If I don't have it, I go ballistic"....that was my intro when I was a pledge for my sorority.  Something never change.

I don't know if you can see it, but there were 4 purple eyeliners there.  4.  

So get the picture.  
I know everyone is aware, but just in case, I wanted to remind you that makeup DOES have a shelf life.  Here is a handy Expiration Guide to help you out.
Needless to say, the majority of what you see above was expired and thrown out. 

I have this great cabinet in my bathroom, that before yesterday looked like this:

Pretty much a hot mess of disorganization.  

After cleaning everything out and moving it around, it now looks like this:

Yay!  So much better!

And my makeup?  Well, it is all current and in one place:

I was able to clear out space in my cabinet and it fits perfectly.

So there are a couple of morals to this story. 
1. Don't hoard makeup.  There is no use. 
2. Don't judge.  Don't ever judge.
3. Don't ever feel embarrassed to have me over to your house.  Clearly I have seen some messes of my own making!

I'd love to see your messes!  Share them with  me!  Are you doing the #40bagsin40days challenge?  Tell me about it!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

It is too early in the morning for this....

That is what I said to my 8 year old this morning.  Truth be told, it was 8:15, which in this house, isn't THAT early, but still, too early for a meltdown over shoes.
She couldn't find her "black shake it up shoes" and the world was apparently going to end.  I tried to help her find them, but then the baby started tripping over the mound of shoes and we just found a different pair instead.
Enough is enough.  
The foyer and hall closet have been on my to-do list for a while, so I tackled it this morning when the girls went to school.

I posted it on my Facebook page, but again, here is the before.  A side by side view of both the closet and the bench/shelf in the front.  

Ugh.  Ridiculous.  

Okay, I need to confess.  I had a secret weapon in my mission. 
 I get that you probably don't have a superhero in your home, but I promise, you can still get the project done.

Okay, so CLEARLY, there was some major purging that needed to be done in today's area of the house.
Let's just take a look at the things I found while sorting:

 19 pairs of sandals and flip-flops.  
It's January.
In Pennsylvania.
To say those shoes were taking up prime property would be an understatement.
I know for a FACT that I used to go through the shoes when I switched clothing seasons over.  I'm not sure why I didn't do that this time.
Oh wait-I DO remember!  Because I have a baby now.  Because my girls are older and are involved in more things.  Because life happened.  That's why the shoes weren't top on the priority list.
Anyway-all of the summer shoes are now living with the bins of summer clothing.
I made sure that won't happen again this year.  I set a reminder in my phone for April.

Moving on-
These were all the empty hangers in the closet.  WHY I had 20 coats hanging on 5 hooks in the entryway is beyond me.  
Oh wait...again--another "a-ha" moment.  
I had all those coats NOT in the closet, because about 15 little spring jackets were taking up space.
THESE shoes right here.....these bad boys were in a bag all to themselves.  Because they are too small for any girl in my house.  So that tells me at some point, I took the time to sort them out.  And then I put the bag BACK IN THE CLOSET!
What?  Where is the logic in that?  
If you look closely, there are 2 boots that have no match.  Interesting, right?

So, I started sorting everything out.  All 5 us got our own pile where I threw our shoes.  I started a trash pile and a yard sale pile as well.  About half-way through cleaning the shoes off the bench area, I found them
The "black shake it up" shoes that started the whole thing.  I could have stopped there, right?  Wrong.  I was on a mission, and the caped crusader wasn't going to let me quit
You might see the shoe organizer in the closet and be thinking "isn't she part of a company that sells organizing things?  That doesn't look like a Clever Container product"
And you'd be right on both accounts.  I do sell Clever Container and that is not a Clever Container product.  Clever Container does sell many cool shoe organizers, but I don't need them in THIS area.  I have a system that works--well, a system that worked and will work again.  
That is the thing about organizing.  If you have something that works for you, USE it!  Don't buy something you don't need!  That defeats the process.
Anyway-I got off topic.  
So I got all the shoes loaded into the shoes shelf, with a few pair on top and few on the bottom of the shelf in the hallway.
Where I DID use a Clever Container product was on the door.  I love our curved over the door double hooks.  I added one on the inside of the door for hats.

So are you ready for the finished product?  Okay!  Here you go!
First up: the hooks being utilized

 But Janell?  You live up north!  Where are all your winter hats?  Your gloves?  

Here is a tip-when we are inside, our gloves go in pocket of our coats and our hats go in the sleeve.  It works great for us.  That way everything is together and we can just hang up our coat.  
I keep all of our hardcore snow gear together in the basement (snow suits, snow boots, waterproof gloves, etc).
If you have a ton of winter gear that you need stored in a closet area, let me know-I have some cool solutions for you!
Here is the inside of the closet now.  I took out about 4 big coats and a bunch of little spring jackets.  I also took out a music stand.
Yes-a music stand was in my hall closet.
Makes sense, right?

 And the front entryway?  Well, it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.  
There are 7 pairs of shoes on the bottom of the shelf.  Boots of the girls that were too big for the shoe holder in the closet, a pair of shoes for each of them that they wear on a regular basis, and a pair of shoes each for Ben and I.  The top of the bench can now be home to my diaper bag and the girls' back packs when they aren't in use.
The shelf above the coats had become Ben's catch all.  I was able to clear it off and he has a little dish for change and random things and the dog leash is up there.  I feel like the wall above needs something now!  
I know it might still look a little cluttered, but trust me it's not.  It's functional and organized.  Just what this busy family of 5 needs.
And no more morning breakdowns.  
At least over shoes!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I mean really....

Okay, so this desk project took way longer than I had anticipated.  Not because it was such a big undertaking, but because I was attacked (yes, attacked) with some vicious sinus bug last week.  I have not been that sick in YEARS!!  It was awful and just now, a week and a half after my first sniffle, do I feel somewhat human again.
Anyway, I told you I would give you the good, bad and the ugly when it came to the areas in my house that needed some attention.  I joked here about what I might find in my cabinets.  Well....get ready because it was interesting. 
For Starters:

I mean, why WOULDN'T there be yellow jacket trap attractant in my kitchen area desk?
Even sadder, we bought the traps at LEAST 3 years ago.  I'm almost positive we bought them to have in the backyard for Emily's 5th birthday.  In 2010.  Nice.  
This is now put in its proper place in the garage with the actual trap thingies.

Next, I joked about the yellow pages that were residing on the top shelf of one of the cabinets.  I guessed 2009 as the year stamped on the front.  

Um.....In November 2007, I still lived in Virginia.  So that means that the bottom yellow pages was here when we moved in and has been here for the past almost 6 years.  

Moving on.  I always kept some meds in the one cabinet (with the yellow pages).  They were in a basket and then the ones that we used more often, were just casually thrown on the shelf.  Well, I went through all of them today.  In the basket, were a TON of expired medicines.  
Just rancid old medicines taking up valuable space.  They have been properly disposed of now.

The other ones are put nicely in a box and placed up on the highest shelf.  I am looking into one of those locking box things, but for now this will do

I found this bag of art supplies that I used for Emily's Angry Bird party in 2011.  Why they were just thrown in a cabinet is beyond me.  Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose
If you want to see more from that party, you can here

Okay, moving on.  I kid you not, I JUST bought Thank You cards at Target the other day.  And then look what I found living in my desk area
A ton of pretty little cards.  Just waiting to be written on and mailed out.  I also found invitations to Allie's 5th and 6th birthday parties.  She'll be 7 in March. 

And the most ironic find of today?  This little jewel
Organizer Pro.  "The simplest way to get organized"

There were more interesting things.  Insurance statements from March 2012, preschool valentine lists (I haven't had a child in preschool in over 2 years), and the list goes on. 
The important thing is that I went through it and it is done, right?


If you have been to one of my Clever parties, you know that I give out organizing facts.  One of those facts is "About 80% of the clutter in your home is a result of disorganization, not lack of space"

I am here to tell you that is TRUE!!!!  I was convinced that I needed to buy another desk and set up shop somewhere else because I "didn't have enough room in this desk"
So wrong.  So, so wrong.  Embarrassingly wrong. 

After I cleaned everything out, and put stuff in its "right" place, my desk cabinets look almost bare!  It's almost like I have TOO much space now!  Big change!
So here is the after:
 Not a big change, but I did move my printer to the left side so that I can have a notepad on the right.  Since I am right handed.  It just makes it work a lot easier for me.  I also cleaned out the 18000 pens that I had in the caddy next to the computer.  A girl only needs so many black pens.  Am I right?
I put a different filing system up for my business supplies and, once I finish filing everything, I will be able to access it much easier.

Now onto the inside:

As a reminder, this was the BEFORE:

And now---in it's uncluttered glory:

I mean, it looks practically empty, right??
The green box holds my stationary and the blue box hold incoming mail.  My camera and photo paper are there, along with the box of (non-expired) meds on the top shelf and some office supplies on the bottom shelf. 
Beautiful, right?

The other cabinet was just as bad BEFORE:

And now?

I almost can't even handle it.  It's amazing, right?

Remember this hot mess before?

Well, guess what?  It is EMPTY now!  Completely empty!  I did find a bag of cookie cutters in that cabinet when I started cleaning it out.  Cookie cutters that we used in play-doh.  Oh, about 3 years ago!  Anyway, it is totally empty now.  We are thinking of putting our pet food in there, but for now I am just basking in it's clean glory.

So there you have it.  My desk is done.  You will notice there is no after picture of my cookbook cabinet.  I decided to leave it alone.  I did straighten it up a little, but for now it's good.  If I get anymore cookbooks, I'll have to purge some, but that system works for me for now.

What do you think?  Not a drastic overhaul, but much more user friendly now, right?  Thank you for not judging and for being patient while I fought the good fight against my sinus'.

I will be tackling my hall closet and foyer next.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Keeping it Real

Okay, so I said I was going to use this blog to show my progress on organizing my house.  I said I might even share before and after pictures.   Well, get ready because I have some doozies of before pictures for you.
I made a list of areas I wanted to organize.  I figured my "office" would be a good place to start.  I use the word "office" lightly.  I have a built in desk area in my kitchen.  That is my office.  It's not ideal, but it works.  The problem is my "office" tends to be a place where everyone's junk gets thrown.  
No more though.  The cycle ends today.
Or tomorrow. 
Whenever I finish getting it all in order.

Anyway, in the spirit of keeping it real, here are the before pictures.
Don't judge.  

From the outside looking in, it doesn't look TERRIBLE.  Not great, but not terrible, right?

Get ready.....

What is really sad about this cabinet, is that I can actually find stuff in it.  I am sure once I start going through it, I will find things I thought were lost forever, but sadly, it is still functional in this stage.  
Notice the phone books at the top?  Any guesses on the year on them?  I'm guessing 2009.  I'll update in the "after" post.

This is my cookbook cabinet.  I use maybe 3 of those cookbooks.  Everything else I do is online or in Pinterest world.

If you scroll down through my blog, I think there is a post about this cabinet from a few years ago.  It was my craft cabinet when the girls were toddlers and we did daily crafts and art projects.  Clearly, things have changed.  This is now the "cram it in and close it quickly" cabinet apparently.

I am almost scared to take everything out of this cabinet.  I don't know what I'll find.  Right now I know there is paper and bubbles.  And it looks like cat food.  That makes perfect sense.  (Insert sarcasm here)

 This is my filing system.  It is an amazing product that Clever Container used to offer.  It's not so much being used to it's capability though.  I mean, I don't remember reading "Shove it full of stuff, then put random things like gift bags and take out menus on top of" in it's description.

And last, but not least, there is this thing.  Appropriately labeled "stuff".  I see a note from Frankie, our elf on the shelf, caulk, tissues, and a pen.  
And I call myself an organized person. 
I'm living a lie. there we have it.  The Before pictures of my hot mess office.
Like I said, we're all friends.  Don't judge.  
I will post after pics as soon as I finish everything. 
I would love for you to comment on this and tell me it's not all that bad.  That I'm not a terrible slob.  That you have areas in your house like this too.....seriously a girl out here!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Well, Well, Well....

Here we are again.  Another year gone.  If you look back about 4 posts, you see that my resolution last year was that I was going to blog regularly.  Well, I was going to try all these Pinterest things and then blog about them.  
Neither happened. it is another year and another chance for me to try again.
I do want to blog on a regular basis.  This year my big resolution is to get my house organized.  You know, me....the one who sells organizing products and helps OTHER people get and stay organized.  I think it's about time I start practicing what I preach!
I already took care of the playroom.  That's always the way it is though.  The kid's rooms are always perfect looking, meanwhile my master closet could be on Hoarders, and my laundry room?  Well, we won't even go there.
My hope is to find great tips and share them on the blog.  I really plan on following through with this.  Seriously.  
I might even post before and after pictures.  I am straight up embarrassed to post some of the before pictures, but we're all friends here, right?  No judging, right?  RIGHT???
I mean, January is National Organization Month!  Did you know that?  No time like the present to get started. 
So...if I don't blog for a couple of days, or I go MIA, or I start talking about how I am on a Real Housewives bender, feel free to tell me to get up and get to work!
I'd love to hear from you as well!  Show me your organization nightmares.  We can all help each other!
I am going to keep telling myself this and make it happen!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Well, that didn't last long...

Well, it started out as a great idea.  I really thought I would be able to keep up with wanting to do 3 Pinterest pins a week.  Clearly I was wrong.  
I have good excuses though.
It has been really cold here.  It being really cold means that I am not leaving my house to buy things for various pins.  I know that sounds lame, but it is true.  
Plus, I have been busy obsessing over things other than Pinterest.  I have always been a crazy google doctor.  You know, the kind that googles things like "child with pain in right ear lobe and left big toe", and then I convince myself that one of my children has some rare disease.  It's not something I am proud of, but it is the truth.  I am aware of it and I really try to keep myself in check. Some days are better than others.
Unfortunately, I have had to play google doctor a lot lately.  Since November, Allie has been complaining of stomach aches.  She also has had random hivey rashes that come and go and her behavior has been crazy.  Those of you that know Allie know that she has always been our emotional one.  Very sensitive.  She wears her heart on her sleeve.  She gets it honest. 
But this has been beyond a little girl just being sensitive.  This has been bad.  Really bad.  Bad to the point that I have had to cancel things because I couldn't leave the house with her.  
So....I turned to google.  Basically everything I found pointed to some type of allergy.  What type of allergy wasn't clear.  We went to the pediatrician and he ordered some blood work.   A celiac panel and a food allergy panel.  So we waited.
While we were waiting, Allie washed her hands with a new hand soap that I had bought.  She immediately broke out into hives on her hands.  That is when it clicked.  She is allergic to dyes.  We decided to run our own little food challenge.  We started reading every label.  Now, I buy as naturally and organically as I can, but we are a one income family and to go completely organic is EXPENSIVE.  We don't eat a lot of junk.  The kids don't drink soda.  They don't eat crappy cereals, but still....dye is in so much!  
We tried our little experiment and guess what.  Her stomach aches went away and our sweet little bug was back.  No more crying fits.  No more anger bursts.  Our fun, spunky, hilarious bug was back with us.
It has been amazing.  
I am a little worried about Valentine's Day.  All the red candy is going to look so delicious to her.  Luckily she is old enough to understand that it is the dye that is making her feel bad.
So...that is why the pinterest project has gone by the wayside.  There are still things I want to try, but I am going to admit right here and now.  3 a week ain't happening.
There was a part 2 to my resolution though.  My 52 weeks of pics of my kids.  THAT I have been able to keep up with.  Check out my album on facebook to see my cute trio :-)
Taking pictures of my kids has ALWAYS been an obsession of mine, so that resolution was simple to keep up with!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Project Pinterest Week 1

Okay, so let me start by saying that I wanted to really diversify myself and try more than just recipes for my first week of 3 pinterest pins, but I ended up doing 2 recipes.  I need to get out and get some supplies for some crafty pins and it just didn't happen this week. Sorry.

But....the 2 recipes I tried were REALLY good!  The day I made honey garlic pork chops, I was all sorts of domestic.  I prepped dinner completely while Austin was napping.  I kept thinking to myself "why don't I do this everyday?"  Good question.  I'll keep working on the answer to that one.
Anyway, the pork chops were really good.  It looks like the recipe was originally for the grill, and I think that would be really good.  It calls for 6 cloves of garlic, but my cloves were pretty big, so I only used 5 and still managed to get heartburn just smelling it while it baked.  Really good though.  The ultimate test was Emily.  Emily doesn't like anything.  The next night was left over night and when it was time to make her plate she said "I want more of the pork from last night"
So....yeah.  Success.

I am always looking for different veggie side dishes and had tried roasted carrots before, but these carrots are our current faves.  I used baby carrots instead of chopping up regular sized ones and I don't think it made any difference in cooking time or anything.  Again, Emily gobbled these up.  So another success!

As I mentioned before, we spent New Years Eve here at home hanging out with the girls.  We had lots of fun and there isn't anywhere else I would have wanted to be.  In between the pizza eating and board game playing, I printed off this end of the year interview and filled it out with the girls.  My favorite answer was when they both answered (separately without hearing each other's answers) that their favorite thing to do is hang out with their family.  I hope they always feel that way!  But, if they don't, I have it in writing that at one time they did! :-)

In other news, the girls started swim lessons this week.  As swim lessons have ALWAYS been with the Gravitt girls, it was traumatic and there were tears.  I decided to change their group lessons to semi-private lessons in hopes that more individualized attention at their level will help us get over the dramatics every time they have a swim class.  I just can't take it anymore.  I mean...there comes an age where water wings and noodles just aren't socially acceptable anymore, right?

Also, I snapped our first pic for the 52 week album.  I decided, instead of trying to pose pics and have the perfect background, lighting, etc., I was just going to try to capture a REAL moment.  That is what it is about, right?
So, I got this.  The girls came in from school on Friday and immediately started reading to Austin.  He is so lucky to have them.

And they are really lucky to have him

And I'm lucky for all of them!