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Spice Cupboard Makeover

I have been planning this makeover for quite some time. Every time I opened the doors, I was overwhelmed but also planning how I would tackle this project. Before I bought a bunch of bins and spice jars, I wanted to get an idea of what we used the most, what we didn’t need, and the best place for each item. Once I had a plan, I removed everything and gave the shelves a good cleaning.

Once I had everything out on the island, I threw out anything that was expired and organized the spices into two categories. I put all of the basic spices together and set aside all of the seasonings and rubs. The spices I had a lot of, I put into the glass jars with the wooden lids. I was lucky to find these at the Dollarama for a really great price. You can get these similar ones here.

I used the wicker baskets to store the ugly stuff. The left basket holds all of our packets of sauces and marinades. The right one is where I decided to put all the of special seasonings and rubs that didn’t come in the label packet. There is a sheet of blank labels included in the pack; however, seasonings like these usually come in larger spice jars and wouldn’t have fit in the clear ones I bought.

The wicker baskets are from IKEA

The metal baskets are also from IKEA. I love these baskets! The handle is so functional, they are sturdy, and they look great!

If you’re having a hard time ordering from IKEA because of shipping wait times, I found these similar baskets on Amazon.

These ones are a little bit pricier than the IKEA version, but I love the creamy colour of them.
These spice jars with these simple labels made the biggest difference here.
This set does come with it’s own labels. It was just a personal preferences to use the white ones. I think it’s easier to see the writing on the white. These ones would work just fine.

I love these spice labels from Lovable Labels. They made everything look uniform. They even look good on different sized jars.

This was a quick project, but I still learned a few things. Here’s a couple of tips:

1. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. Spices don’t last forever. If they’ve been sitting unused in your cupboard for six months, chances are you aren’t going to start cooking with it in the next six months.

2. Corral the ugly stuff. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I didn’t like how my handwriting looked on the blank labels next to the typed ones. I solved this problem by keeping the seasonings in their original containers out of sight in baskets. If I need one, I just pull out the whole basket.

3. Use the highest shelves for infrequently used items. This is where I stored the back stock. I can pull the basket down when I am ready to refill one of the smaller jars.

Happy Organizing!

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Five Elements of a Custom IKEA Kitchen

It’s hard to beat the price of an IKEA kitchen. I once had basic kitchen cabinets quoted elsewhere, and they came in around triple the price of the IKEA ones. So, although my dream kitchen will one day have custom solid wood cabinets with inset doors, an IKEA kitchen is what I could afford right now. How do you do an IKEA kitchen without making it look like an IKEA kitchen? I have a formula that works.

1. Elevate the Bones

It’s easy to get caught up in picking out cabinets, countertops, and hardware and forget about the room itself. Because IKEA is such a big store and so many people shop there, their kitchens can start to all look alike. Your IKEA kitchen will turn out so much better if you elevate the space around it. Ask yourself how you can make your kitchen stand apart from all of the rest of the IKEA kitchens out there. To elevate my space, I added shiplap to the ceiling, I added my own crown moulding, and I added unique flooring. The ceiling was a financial investment, eating up a good chunk of our budget, but I think the room would have fell flat without it. The herringbone brick flooring was more of an investment in time and a very sore body. I get so many complements and questions about the floor, and it’s not because of my awesome tiling job. It’s because it’s unique.

2. Less Is More

Sometimes no cabinets can be better than a straight run of cabinetry. Leaving some of the walls blank allows you to add something new and different to your kitchen. Don’t be worried about losing precious storage space. You can add a tall pantry or, because IKEA cabinets are so affordable, use more drawers. In normal cabinets, stuff tends to get lost at the back of the cabinet. This doesn’t happen with drawers, so you regain all of that precious storage space. In my kitchen, I left a space open between our tall pantry cabinet and the fridge to add some open shelving. We call this our “baking nook.” All of the baking supplies, like bowls and mixers, are stored in the drawers below this counter space. I also chose not to put uppers on either side of the window above the sink. This allowed me to add peg rails with a little shelf to display art and other special treasures I’ve found on my thrifting adventures.

3. Mix It Up A Little

If you don’t want your IKEA kitchen to look “cookie cutter,” don’t make all of the elements of your kitchen match. Hardware, lighting, and paint are easy ways to mix things up. I used latches on my upper cabinets and label pulls on my lowers. My sconces are pendants are different too. Pieces don’t have to all come from the same line to work well together. My sconces and my basket pendants were purchased at two different stores. Paint and cabinetry colours are other ways to set your kitchen apart from all the rest. You can do two different coloured cabinets. Use a darker coloured cabinet for your lowers and a lighter colour for your uppers or do a contrasting colour on your island. I thought about doing our baking nook a different colour, and I still might. For now, it’s easy to change the paint colour behind the open shelves or paint my kitchen door a fun new colour whenever I need change.

Don’t, I repeat, DON’T put a microwave above your range and lose an opportunity to boost your kitchen!
We welcomed spring with a fresh coat of pink on the door that leads to our mudroom.
The baking nook has already had a makeover and is unrecognizable as is this sweet baby boy!

4. Furnish

Furniture just adds so much to the overall feel of your kitchen. All of the IKEA kitchens that stand out in my mind have some type of furniture in them. It can be an antique cabinet that you slide in at the end of a run of cabinetry or simply adding stools around your island that you found at a thrift shop. It can be a beautiful old chair in the corner or a love seat under a window where you can sip tea or your family can sit while you prepare dinner. The freestanding piece in my kitchen is the island. I could have used more IKEA cabinets and built an island full of storage, but I wanted our island to be a showpiece. I built it myself to be exactly what I want. We’ve lived in a few houses with islands where all the seating was on one side. It looks clean, but makes it hard to have conversations. I wanted to be able to chat with my children face to face and learn all about their day. I wanted the island to be HUGE, so we could lay out all our Christmas baking and have big family potlucks. I wanted our island to be rough and add warmth to our white kitchen. I wanted our island to have imperfections, so our kitchen looked like it has been in this house forever. I spent a lot of time designing our island and a couple days building it. I think I achieved all of these things, and I think our kitchen looks a lot more custom because of it.

We use the big baskets for extra paper towel and potatoes and onions.
I found these stools for $5 each at one of my favourite antique stores.

5. Accessorize with Things You Love

Now that you have the flooring, the cabinets, the countertops, the hardware, and the lighting, it’s time for the fun part. Accessorize with things you love. It’s the pretty things that tell people that this is your kitchen. You’ve saved a lot of money on the cabinetry, so let yourself splurge on a couple of items. A beautiful antique looking faucet, a piece of original art, or some pottery to display on your open shelves will bring your kitchen to life. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, hit up the thrift stores in your area and add plants. I need a plant in every room!

I’ve been rounding up a list of all of my favourite kitchen finds. In the meantime, you can read about our kitchen renovation here.

Shared Bedroom with Built-In Beds

Everett and Sammy’s room is finally nearing completion! All I have left to do is install sconces above the bookshelves and hang some art. Even though he won’t be using it for awhile, I set up Sammy’s big boy bed yesterday. I plan to install a rail on his bed, so the boys can practice sleeping in there together before I officially move him in. I am so happy that the boys love playing in there and looking at books together. I think there is so much value in siblings sharing a bedroom. Even though Caleb and Charlotte have their own rooms, they shared a bedroom when they were little and got used to sleeping together. They still ask to do so now and again, and I can hear them chitchatting into the night. It truly warms my heart. Let’s take a look at how this room has come together over the past three and a half months.

I decided to turn Everett’s room into a shared bedroom for him and Sammy when we found out we were having surprise baby…which turned out to be TWINS! Looks like I’ll be designing a shared nursery in the near future! My challenge: fitting two growing boys into a bedroom that is a great size for one child, but a little small for two without building bunkbeds. The ceilings are just too low to have them at a comfortable height. I also hate making the top bunk, so they were definitely out of the question. I love the look of two twin beds with a window in between, but the window in here isn’t centered, so one bed would be covering it. The lack of symmetry would drive me crazy, so it was out of the question. Here is what I started with:

I wanted to make sure, as Everett and Sammy grew, that they felt like they each had their own space. I designed the built-in beds like this to meet all of my needs:

  • Beds that are close to the floor, so there was no issues with the boys falling out of bed and the windows weren’t covered
  • Storage for books and a few toys or puzzles
  • A window for each boy
  • Divided space
  • Headboards you could see when you stood in the doorway and style
  • Everett’s request: A secret fort

The beds are pretty simple to build. I built the bases out of 2x6s, then added the shelves/headboards which were built out of 1/2″ plywood. After that, I trimmed the platforms and shelves out with 1x8s and 1x3s and started painting. The hardest part was the fact that my “helper” was trained more for demo than finish work.

After the trim went up, everything (and I mean everything!) got caulked, primed, and painted. I used cabinet grade paint because BOYS! If you know, you know. Because Everett was still sleeping in his crib, I had keep it in here until his bed was ready. That made for a very cramped space to work in. I was able to salvage the wallpaper I had done the year previously and use it in the big kids’ closet and on the back of Everett’s shelves. I had just enough!

We lived with the room like this for a couple months, and I had one happy boy! Everett has adjusted to sleeping in a big boy bed so well. I eliminated his nap at the same time that I made the transition, and it has made a world of difference with his bedtime routine. I let Sammy play in here when I put the gate up and he loves it. Finally, his mattress arrived yesterday.

I am really pleased with how everything turned out. I wanted the bedding to coordinate, but I didn’t want it to look “matchy-matchy.” I think I achieved that. Everything is linked at the bottom of the post.

Thanks for sticking with me through this process. Check back soon, I’ll be sharing as I add the finishing touches, like a DIY banner project I made for Everett’s side of the room.

Sources:

Rug: Giant Tiger

Mattresses: Wayfair

Christmas Sheets: Costco

Mustard Plaid Throw: HomeSense Canada

Mustard Duvet Cover: Walmart *Huge sale

Duvet Insert: Ikea

Rabbit Cushion Cover: H&M (no longer available)

Rust Pillowcases: H&M (no longer available)

Navy Wool Blanket: Walmart

Ticking Stripe Duvet Cover: Walmart (no longer available)

Synthetic Duvet Insert: Amazon

Wall & Trim Colour – Barnhouse Gray: Behr

Budget Friendly Finds

It’s okay to treat yourself a little after surviving months of being quarantined. I mean, you saved SO MUCH MONEY by not taking your kids to the grocery store. Right? Now it’s time to spend that money! I am going to share a few of my favourite budget friendly finds that you can safely get online. Click on the individual links below to find them.

First up on my list is this super soft throw. I love the neutral pattern, and how I can move it from room to room. One day I toss it in the corner of my living room sofa. The next day, it’s on the end of my son’s bed.

These branches are a fantastic vase filler, especially if you’re looking for something to visually fill a large space. They are long but you can also bend the stems to fit the size of vase you’d like. I had these in my shopping cart for months, so when Sabrina from The Petite Press added them to her LIKEtoKNOW.it page, it was a sign. Click on the image to check out all of Sabrina’s finds. Her styling is perfection!

If you want to buy something small and affordable that instantly makes a space look styled without making it looked cluttered, these natural wooden beads are perfect. They are under $20. I bought two, and they came really quickly.

I bet when you saw the group pictures, your eye went directly to the art at the top in the middle! That is just one of the beautiful, original pieces made by my friend Alison. We are so lucky that she is local! I included Alison’s work here because, not only is she willing to ship her art to you, but she’s also easy to work with to make the art affordable. I’m not sure there is anything as special as having a piece of art in your home that was made especially for you. You can message Alison directly through her Instagram account.

How about that market basket? We both know I’m going to be hanging mine with a bunch of flowers in my newly finished mudroom. I used it as a purse the other day when I needed to bring a change of clothes with me. This is one of those things you can’t go wrong with. It instantly makes any space feel homey. This is from a local shop called Reimagine Designs that has an excellent website. You can buy something online and you have the option to have it shipped or do curb-side pick-up. They are having a 10% summer sale right now too. Just use code SUMMER10.

Summer used to be the time when I curled up and read book after book. Life just doesn’t allow me to do that lately, but that’s okay. I found a new way to maximize my time and get my books in: audiobooks! I have an Audible account that I pay around $15 per month for. This gives me one credit per month to buy a book, so I have lots of options. Audiobooks are also a great way to limit the kids arguing on long car rides. Where the Crawdads Sing is SO good. It gives you that small town, down south feeling of The Notebook. I couldn’t “put it down.” I remember staying up one night to finish listening to it.

I have been looking for one of these wooden wall racks at thrift stores for a couple of years. I still hadn’t found one…not surprising since, lately, everyone seems to want that bohemian vibe they give. As the mudroom progressed, I new it would be the perfect thing to have right beside the door for guests to hang their coats on, so I checked out Amazon. I found this one, and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Shipping did take quite awhile, so if you are thinking of getting one, don’t wait!

This little dish scrubber set is perfect beside your sink. I keep mine on a pedestal with my soap and a little plant or vase of flowers. The wood is natural and warm. The dish comes with a little pad on a spring. Fill it with a little dish soap and push down before you pull the scrubber out. It’s great for quick clean-ups. The price just dropped to $12, so I’m going to stock up. With a pretty set of dish towels, they make cute housewarming gifts!

Finally, la piece de resistance: the coveted large olive tree. I think every blogger on Instagram has one or makes you want one. I know I have been on the hunt for a large, affordable one for so long (especially in Canada). I couldn’t bring myself to spend $600 (actually I could, but Ryan probably wouldn’t be too happy), so I found this gorgeous one by Unique Forest Arts for $240 on Etsy. It is 70” so not quite 6 feet but when you prop it up in a planter, you can make it grow a few inches. It looks really realistic and the branches are bendable, so you can mould it how you like. There is also a smaller option for around $150. It took about 2 weeks to arrive.

Thrifted Thursday on Saturday Because I Thought It Was Monday

Thrifted Thursday is making a late appearance on Saturday. You know, because I like to keep you on your toes, not because I thought it was Monday all day yesterday. I also left the house wearing two different shoes and since we now live outside of town, I shopped in those mismatched shoes all day! On Tuesday, I took a little road trip about two hours away to pick up this antique Persian rug…it’s hand-knotted, faded in the most awesome way, and I own it because I’m kind of a competitive person.

Online auctions are so fun. You get to browse through a catalogue of antique/vintage items and imagine yourself owning them for basically nothing. That is, until you’ve actually won the item for a little more than you planned, drive the two hours to pick it up, pay tax, pay the buyer’s fee, and then pay tax on top of that. There are hidden costs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

I have slowly fallen in love with this rug. It is just over 4’x6’, so it’s a little tricky to fit into a space. Initially, I was thrown off when I rolled it out to have a look at what I had just paid for. In the pictures online, I loved the wear of the rug, but it looked a lot more blue/purple in the photos. When I picked it up, all I could see what red. I knew things could look different in different places, so I gave it a chance and brought it home. I instantly knew it was a good purchase when I saw it on my new mudroom floor. I probably won’t keep it here because mudroom rugs don’t last long with Canadian winters and four children, but at least I know it will look good when it’s time to change out the floors in the rest of the house. Hmmmm

If you’d like to see what you can score, you can sign up for free and browse the items in the upcoming auction HERE. It’s free to do that. Just be careful, you might spend more than you planned.

What I Learned My First Year Homeschooling

1. It’s okay to work your pants off planning ahead. Kids learn to plan ahead.

2. It’s okay to wake up late and fly by the seat of your pants. Kids learn flexibility.

3. It’s okay to go on field trips. Kids experience adventure.

4. It’s okay to stay home and play in the backyard. Kids learn how to use their imaginations.

5. It’s okay to “give up” on math for the day. Kids learn the value of stepping away and returning the next day with a fresh perspective.

6. It’s okay to make them tough it out and make them get the work done. Kids learn grit.

7. It’s okay to hold back tears of frustration and survive through a bad day. Kids learn self-control.

8. It’s okay to cry in front of your kids and talk about it. Kids learn how to deal with their emotions.

9. It’s okay to be that awesome homeschool mom and do it all. Kids learn that their mom really does try to do her best.

10. It’s okay to be that awesome mom who sends her kids to school. Kids learn that their mom really does try to do her best for them.

This has the potential to be a long, very emotional post. However, if I write too long, I may just end up changing my mind again, so I’ll keep it short.

Our first year of homeschooling was amazing! I loved it! There were days when I hated it and questioned my decision to homeschool my then 10 and 7 year olds while caring for my 2 year old and brand new baby. Then there were the days (even before COVID forced schools to close and everyone was homeschooling) when I just knew it was the right decision. We have so many wonderful memories together from this past year. My children learned the value of family, living in the present, and lots of life skills…along with some other less important academics. We are so so so lucky to have had this opportunity and to have a daddy in the house who supports whatever I decide to do.

You might be surprised to hear that I’m not homeschooling Caleb and Charlotte next year and it’s not because I don’t want to. I loved the challenge and I’d do it again in a heartbeat! All year, Caleb expressed that he wanted to go to middle school, and he never gave up on that desire. So after going back and forth a hundred times, I finally decided (yes, even with all the new COVID regulations) to send him back. Charlotte would love to continue homeschooling, but I am sending her back too. After moving to a new community and having a lot of social programs close, she just hasn’t made many girlfriends here. Charlotte really needs that interaction because she’s surrounded by boys here and her sport of choice (horseback riding) is private. Also, Charlotte needs the added challenge of French immersion. They both love being in French and, although I took All my classes in French right up to second year university, I have lost a lot of it over the years. Honestly, my accent is embarrassing! I don’t think they’d be reaching their full potential in that area with me, and I’d be doing them a disservice by keeping them home.

I was so torn up about this decision. It was really hard for me, but I feel like I’m making the right decision for everyone. Time will tell, so if things aren’t going well, I am not closing the door completely on homeschooling. I love teaching, so I am channeling that energy into planning some fun preschool activities for Everett. It won’t hurt to give the little boys more quality time with their mama as well.

3 Simple Changes I Made for Quick Curb Appeal

It’s no secret that the inside of our home has undergone some major transformations. I practically had the kitchen gutted the day we moved in. I have always had some plans for the outside of our home, but with so much energy and time spent on the inside, our yard has been a bit neglected.

1. GET OUT THE PAINT

Last year, I painted the railing to our front steps black (it was that orangey brown colour). I think it made a huge difference. It is one of those things that you don’t really notice but something just feels off. Once the change is made, it just feels better! So number one, get out the paint. Paint has this wonderful way of quickly making a huge impact and it’s not too expensive. You don’t have to paint your whole house (although THAT would definitely make an impact) to add to your curb appeal. You could paint the front door a fun colour, paint your shutters, paint your shed, or even paint the skirt around the bottom of your house. I think any one of these has the power to transform how you feel when you look at your home.

2. COVER UP THE UGLY

Our home has a glassed-in front porch across the front. When we first moved in, part of the skirting (you know, the criss cross stuff people use to hide underneath their deck) was broken, leaving most of the underneath of the porch exposed. It was so ugly, and it only got worse! Over the winter, all of the insulation and vapour barrier that was u see the porch fell down and was blowing all over the yard. When spring finally arrived, we priced out doing the foam insulation under the porch. With COVID shutting down our business, it just wasn’t in the budget. I finally got fed up and decided to change up the front yard. I took the flat stone the was bordering a giant bed in the front of our yard and stacked it like a faux stone foundation along the bottom of the porch. Wow! Did it ever make a difference! Mess gone! Well, it was still there, you just couldn’t see it!

That insulation and broken skirting was embarrassing!
A simple, free fix

3. MAINTAIN & CONTAIN

Once the rocks were stacked, I was feeling pretty good. That is until I blinked and the weeds took over the entire yard! I plan to get rid of the bed in the front near the sidewalk and just do grass. The bed right in front of the stones is staying. I always had a plan to simplify it to just a few shrubs and hostas and add black mulch. I kept putting it off because it is so dang hard to get any outside work done at our house because my son, Everett, is three and a runner. You have to be right on top of him or he’s gone. I finally got a babysitter for a few days and was determined to get it weeded. I pulled everything out and drove into town to buy the mulch. I’m not quite done. I have a bit more weeding to do on the side and some more mulch to buy, but the transformation is awesome! I’m so proud of it. ☺️

So the third change is not so much a change, but a habit. Continue to mow your lawn regularly, weed the flower beds if you have them, and keep things neat and tidy. Each evening, I try to get my kids to run around the yard and put all their toys away. It makes a big difference to the appearance of your house if the lot it’s sitting on is well taken care of. Luckily, I have a very eager son who decided he wants to start a lawn care business.

As the weeds grew, our pretty stone disappeared.
After some hardcore weeding (free labor by yours truly.

I’ll be updating the front yard situation as I progress.

Cheers!

Jenny

Our home has a glass in front porch across the front front of it. En we first moved in, the

Mudroom Progress

Well, clearly I’m really bad at keeping secrets! 🤫 Plus, I truly believe in sharing the process. So here is a happy/frustrating day for me. Ryan and I were just saying how I’ve worked hard for the past two months to get to this satisfying moment of painting the built-ins…and then I run out of paint! 🤦‍♀️ So here is my progress pic: half of the lockers have the two coats of paint they need, no floor yet (I’m a messy painter), and I only found four of the six baskets I need (I’ve been on the hunt for the past couple months). Even with all of this, I see it and I love it! This could be the project I’m most proud of to date.

The colour is perfect! I think this might be the first time I haven’t second guessed my colour choice when I started painting. It is a really earthy olive green, but in the evening it looks almost black in here. This is perfect, because I was having a hard time choosing between the two.

The baskets I found are perfect as well! I was having such a hard time finding anything because every time I searched, I always found something not available on Canada or too expensive. These ones (turned sideways) fill the shelves for maximum storage. They have a leather handle which I really wanted, and they are a natural material. Black wire baskets would have looked great here, but only when they were empty. Once I fill them with winter gear, I don’t want to be able to see it.

Finally, look at that faux vertical shiplap! I probably saved over a thousand dollars, and it looks amazing! I can’t wait to share that process with you and the best paint brush for painting the cracks.

That is it for my little sneak peek into the mudroom. There is so much more awesomeness to come! Check back soon. I need to wrap this project up, so I can start on the deck!

Thrifted Thursday

I decided to try something new! Each week, I’m going to share something I found while out thrifting. As the bigger projects in the house slowly come together, the unfinished spaces that helped tame the little shopaholic in me aren’t quite doing their jobs. I am finding it harder and harder not to buy those special pieces when I see them. I have collected a few beauties over the past year or so, and I just feel like these girls need a proper introduction!

The vase I found at one of my favourite stops. I was on the hunt for a large black vase and found exactly what I was looking for in the corner of the shop with a bunch of crocks. Nothing completes a relaxing day fishing on the Miramichi like a good thrift find! I paid $60 for this vase and I found it at Route 8 Big Wheeler Antiques and Collectibles. I love this place! It’s always jam-packed with goodies. I have made it a tradition to bring home a model car for Caleb whenever I spot one, and this place has lots!

I love this vase! She’s so elegant with her hammered look, goes in every room, and makes the most basic flower pop. I’m going to call her Martha. Yes, that’s also a new thing! I’m going to name all these beauties. I can’t wait for you to meet Big Betty!

The stool the vase is sitting on is a recent find. I finally had a chance to check out Old Tyme Collectibles and Antiques on Main St. in Fredericton. By “had a chance” I mean Ryan drove around with all the kids in the van for an hour while I enjoyed some much needed me time. I am obviously a homebody, but I don’t care what you say. Being cooped up in a house with four kids for months ain’t easy! I saw this stool with another shorter one the first time I stopped in. I didn’t buy either. So silly of me! I went back the next week and the shorter stool was gone. Looking back, I would have bought both in a heartbeat. Old Tyme is reorganizing their shop, so they have a huge sale on until the end of June. EVERYTHING in the shop is HALF PRICE! That’s right! I am going back once a week because I know as people buy things, more treasures will be uncovered. That place is overflowing with goodies! Don’t forget your mask. You will need one to go inside.

The seat has this hand-painted picture I was tempted to sand off, but the stain is just perfect as is. I think it adds to her charm, and it’s nothing a plant can’t hide. And those legs! I have this thing with turned legs of any kind. I went through a mad phase of collecting Jenny Lind spool beds. I think I had six of them at one point, and only two kids.

I’m going to call her Sharon and leave you with that. Until next week!

How to Purge Your Home Now in 5 Simple Steps

    I want to share with you what I am working on right now, daily, to ensure that my family’s summer is a little bit more peaceful.  Like many of you, I jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon. I watched the shows and listened to her audiobook. I was so excited to purge my entire house, and I did. Well friends, that was a whole year ago. I know, right? Time flies! Since then, we’ve had Christmas, two rounds of “birthday party season,” and kids growing up and out of things…not to mention the endless potty training bribes. Our house is overflowing with STUFF! Like most moms out there, I have become the Manager of Stuff. The only problem is, a raise didn’t come with the title! Lately, I’ve been really overwhelmed by all the extra stuff and it’s stealing my joy. I don’t want to spend my summer organizing toys and being constantly irritated by the mess. It’s time for a little maintenance! I want to do more of this:

I don’t know about you, but when people say the dreaded words “spring cleaning” or “purge,” I shudder. When you are a busy mom or working outside of the home, it just seems like there’s no time. I am not super attached to things. That’s not why I have a lot of stuff in my house. I have a lot of stuff because I find it hard to get everyone to cooperate with my quest for minimalism. I wanted to create a simple plan that is realistic to follow. Let’s be honest, I can’t pull everything out at once. I can, however, devote 15 – 30 minutes here and there. Okay, so let’s do this!
You are going to follow the same 5 steps for however many categories you come up with to suit your home. For example, someone with four children will have different categories than someone who is about to combine homes with their partner. I am going to share my version of categories to get you started. Here are the 5 steps:
1. Pile
2. Sort
3. House
4. Donate 
5. Toss
Sound simple? It actually is. I will give you a few tips for each category. I didn’t do all 5 steps in one 15 minute to 30 minute chunk, but I did complete all five steps for one category in one day. For example, this morning I ran around grabbing all the toys I could find in big baskets and bins and carried them all to the homeschool room. I left them in a big pile until a couple hours later when I had time to sort through them. This is actually pretty motivating for kids too. My kids were able to see how many toys they had all at once and even they could see it was too much. 
Step 1: PILE
    – Pile the items you are going to purge in the room they will be housed in/where they are used most often. I do clothing as I go through each child’s room. For the husbands out there, just nag inspire them to keep only what they truly love and to follow the “one in – one out rule.” 
Step 2: SORT
    – Keep a garbage bag and donate box handy. Anything broken/damaged or expired gets trashed. 
    – Toys I remember picking up off the floor and putting together (unless that’s the purpose like LEGO) are totally worth donating! If my kids cared about them enough, they wouldn’t constantly be on the floor in pieces. 
       – I group like items together quickly and toss all the little random things in a bin by my side. At the end, I go through the bin and remove anything that doesn’t belong. Usually, most of this stuff ends up getting trashed. 
        – For clothing, I keep a basket in my younger children’s closets for clothes they’ve outgrown because they grow out of things so quickly. When something is a little snug, I toss it in the basket. About every three months, when they either outgrow everything or the seasons change, I empty the basket all at once.
Step 3: HOUSE
    – Quickly grab each sorted pile and put them in their designated bin or home immediately. If it’s clothing, hang it in the closet or fold it and put it in the dresser. 
    – If you don’t already have bins or baskets to house the items, use whatever you have. I sometimes use old boxes that someone named Amazon keeps leaving on my doorstep…
    – Once you have the items organized, it will be easier to see what you have and how many/what size bins or baskets you will need.
Step 4: DONATE
    – I think this is the most important part! Listen carefully, see those boxes of items you have decided you can live without but still have some life left in them and could make someone else happy? Pick up those boxes and walk them to the trunk of your car right NOW.
    – If you are able, drive them to the donation centre immediately. Nothing is more appealing to a child than a box full of toys you’ve decided to donate. I guarantee you, if you don’t get rid of the box, all those toys will be all over the house and mixed back in with the keepers in no time.
    – So they are gone? Excellent! Feel that weight lifted!
    – If you have some items you want to sell, give yourself a deadline like 1-2 weeks. If the item doesn’t sell, donate it!
STEP 5: TOSS
    – This step is pretty simple, tie up the bag of trash and take it out to your outside trash bin. 
    – I take all the trash out while I’m at it.
These categories do not need to be followed in order. Start anywhere you like because it’s better than not starting at all! If you are putting your child’s laundry away and have an extra ten minutes, start pulling all the clothing that is too small and pile it together. You can sort it and fold it later.

I created this checklist to help me visualize the areas I need to purge. It also feels great to check an item off the list. Feel free to download and print this list off. You can add or eliminate anything you see fit. I haven’t completed this list yet either, so let’s do this together.

*Toys*
        – Collect all the toys that have made their way to every nook and cranny in your home, and put them in a big pile in the room where your children play the most often. I chose to do this because I have gone back and forth on toys in the playroom only and toys in bedrooms and toys all over the house. I have found that if there are toys allowed in my children’s bedrooms, I end up constantly cleaning four kids’ rooms AND a playroom. I’m not willing to spend my short Canadian summer cleaning toys out from under beds. I want it to finally be possible to click the a button on the Roomba as I walk out the door and it make it more than two feet before it is stuck on a toy. Obviously, this depends on your children’s ages and personalities. My oldest son is 10 and mostly plays sports, plays with outdoor toys, and plays video games. My daughter is 8 and very particular about her collections, as well as organized, so she gets to keep those in her bedroom. All other toys are in the sunporch in a few bins. These are mostly the toys my 3 and 8 month old play with because they need to be supervised. I love that to have tidy rooms, my children just have to make their beds, put their laundry in the hamper, and do a quick tidy of their decorative items.

I hope this helps You get past the overwhelming task of purging a little bit. At the very least, I hope it helps you get started. Happy purging, friends!

Xoxo
Jenny