How I Gave Myself Free Flowers

Check out these beautiful tulips that I received today!

Free flowers vase recycling

Colorful tulips remind me of Spring!

How did I get them?  While I have been tempted to buy myself tulips to help escape the winter-blahs, I have been distracted by a clean- and purge-my-house-of-things-kick, meaning no time or need for flowers.  Fortunately, I found a way for my de-cluttering to payoff with free flowers.

It was simple – I had several glass vases collecting dust in my basement. On the bottom two vases, I found a clear sticker with the contact info for a local florist. I called them up and asked them if they re-cycled vases, and she said that they did, giving fresh flowers in return. AWESOME!

This was such a win-win-win situation: I get rid of excessive vases I don’t want, AND get fresh flowers in return. A win for the florist: they are able to stock up on vases in time for Valentine’s Day at a minimal cost (I assume)! And a win for the earth is always recycling! Finally, it was a win for Daddy O., who will not buy me flowers for Valentine’s Day (though admittedly he wouldn’t anyway after years of me telling him not to because they are so ridiculously marked up for the holiday, and I’d rather do something together as a couple instead of receiving a gift).

Search your own home and see if your local florist recycles vases too!

For organizing and spring cleaning tips, see my post from last January when a dear friend helped me organize my living room / toy chaos.

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Forget Spring Cleaning – Winter Organizing 101

Winter has us cooped up inside for most days, though Wisconsin weather HAS been quite kind to us as of late, so we’ve been able to enjoy playing in the snow. Still with all the indoor time it is a prime opportunity to get organized!!

A visit from one of my dearest friends, who has know me since 5th grade, was exactly what I needed to get inspired and start organizing.  Here’s how she helped me attack at least one room – our living room:

  1. Dump out one bin or focus on one area at a time. We have a lot of wicker and cloth bins, so we just dumped out their contents to see what toys were where.
  2. Start sorting like items. By doing this, we identified “themes” of play-things. We planned out bins for cars / trains, pretend-play, games, books, technology / music, dolls, blocks and one miscellaneous.
  3. Ask yourself – does this item need to be in this room? We had this conversation about my daughter’s hair-things. They were stored in a bag in the living room. “Why are they in the living room?” my friend asked. “Because I often do her hair in the living room,” I explained. “Why can’t they go in the bathroom?” she inquired. I thought about this, and realized, oh yeah, they CAN go in the bathroom closet instead. Good call, my friend!  You should also ask yourself, “Should this item be kept, sold or donated?” Build a pile each for keep, sell, and donate.
  4. Decide what fits where. Once we took some items out of the room to be placed elsewhere in our house, we started filling up my existing bins.  Before doing so, my friend (who is also a neat-freak) vacuumed out the cloth bins. We filled up bins and she found spots to place them that I didn’t think of before.  It was genius!
  5. Find “homes” for the remaining items. This meant I had a list of bins and plastic tubs to buy. I searched my own home first, so I could make the most of what I already had. Just shifting toys around a bit helped me find similar patterned cloth bins.
  6. Buy said bins / organizers & finalize the room.  It’s amazing what you can fit into bins that are more accessible for kids than a toy’s original packaging! Now I am ready to rotate my kids’ toys more often to keep them entertained this winter. Already, I feel like everything has its place, and we’re picking up before getting something new out.  Clean, organized house = one happy mama!

Here is my new & improved tv stand converted into toy storage:

organized toy storage

With a little help from my friend – the final result of my organization!

At my going rate, I hope to keep on organizing this winter, so come springtime I can be outside with my family!

How do you keep your home organized? Let me know if you have any tips that work well for you!

Smart Outfit Planning Trick

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Here’s a smart and easy trick I learned from an awesome mom of three kids all under the age of 3.5:

Use these crazy pajama or outfit hangers to put together matching shirts and shorts/pants/skirts, and hang them on a lower level closet rod. This way your child can still really pick out his or her own clothes each day, but can have mom-approved outfits!

Ok, I’ll admit that I have yet to do this, so for now my daughter really shows her creativity when choosing her own clothes. Someday we may implement this!

On a side note, I have been a little absent from blogging due to technical issues. The mobile site just isn’t the same! How to be more active really soon.  Until then have a great week!

Transition Back to Work

After being at my new job for a whopping three weeks, or six days, I feel like I can accurately share details about my transition back to work.  In a word:

GOOD!

I am very happy to have more structure, as I have to be more organized and productive in order to make my work days go more smoothly.  This means a few things –

  • Getting as much ready as I can the night before.  Kids stuff packed, my lunch packed in containers ready to go into my lunch box, items staged close to the door, dinner planned and prepped (if I can).
  • Wake up BEFORE everyone else!  This is key in getting ready quickly, so I can get out the door when I need to.  Plus, I love the quiet house in the morning.
  • Don’t get distracted.  I have a tendency to linger and putter around in the morning when eating breakfast.  On my word days I have to stop myself and stay focused on what I MUST DO instead of the “NICE to-do’s.”
  • Prep snacks for the kids because they are hungry immediately upon arriving home.  Instead of just throwing more crackers their way, I try to have cut up fruits and veggies ready for them.
  • Keep dinner simple.  We typically eat leftovers, crock-pot meals, or quick & easy to make meals.  Tonight it was pasta with red onions and black olives.  Yum!

Do I still have crazy moments in the two hours from daycare pick-up until my kid’s bedtime on my work days? Without a doubt! But together, my awesome teammate / husband and I figure it out and make it work.  It is only two days out of the week, so it has not been too difficult of a transition thus far.

Work wise, I’ve had to adjust from my larger, corporate marketing mindset to that of a small business.  I have to scale down some efforts to an appropriate level that matches our current resources with my time often being the limiting factor.  I work with extremely nice people; it’s too small of a business for office politics; and I feel like I’m already making a difference.  Of course there are some new ideas and changes that I’d like to propose, and I hope to do so in due time.  Until then, I’ll clock in for my two days a week and accomplish whatever I can to keep plans moving in the right direction!

How do you make your workdays easier?  If you transitioned from staying home to working, I’d love to hear how you make it work!

Un-decking the Halls

Does taking down Christmas decorations leave you blue?  I can’t help but feel that way as a “un-deck” the halls at our house. We had a lovely, busy, and festive holiday season full of multiple family gatherings, delicious food – and some tasty leftovers, and many wonderful toys.  Now as I take everything down, I can’t get motivated to cram the last few things into the big green storage bin in our basement.  Instead it sits on my husband’s already cluttered tool bench (though I’m not getting any complaints there).

Growing up our artificial tree would be up for what seemed like MONTHS after Christmas!  My mom once dreamed it was March and the tree was still up.  I think she too struggled with putting everything away – something I may have inherited from her! We also had Christmas lights permanently mounted to the main window indoors.  All you had to do was flip a switch and cha-ching – instant holiday year-round!

Is putting everything away part of the realization that we’re just going back into our typical, non-festive routine – a long stretch of hibernating during winter and cold without any EXCITING holidays for some time?  Shouldn’t I still be feeling the hope and excitement of a New Year?  Sigh…I don’t know.

Little by little, everything will find its place, from the Christmas decorations to the newly received toys that are overflowing from toy bins as we speak. I will get re-organized and re-energized at some point.

I already found a few inspiring places for motivation and kid’s organization:

Small Potatoes

Merriment

Attempting Aloha

For today, I’ll hang out with my 3 year old, who is boycotting nap time. How is “un-decking the halls” going for you?