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How to Make Mornings With Kids Less Stressful

Big thank you to Mom It Forward Blogger Network and IKEA for partnering with me to share solutions for morning madness – #first59

I’m a firm believer that the quality of your day doesn’t depend on outside forces or experiences – it’s all about your attitude and choosing to be happy :) But getting your day off to a good start, during that first hour in the morning, can help make having a good attitude much easier! We’ve all felt the stress that comes with a disorganized morning… Can’t find your keys or the kids’ shoes. Someone reminds you last minute about a game or teacher conference you forgot about. There’s nothing for breakfast, or you forgot to pack lunches. There’s yelling, nagging, grumpiness, and everyone starts their day stressed out. Which is NO good, right?

Beautiful Sunrise - How to make mornings more manageable for busy moms #first59 [Read more…]


Kitchen Makeover: Organization Tips on a Budget

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Duck Brand. All opinions are 100% mine.

We’ve lived in this house for about 3 years now. But just finally closed on the sale and made it official a couple months ago. {Yayayayayaya!} So, I’m starting to work on some projects I’d kind of put off for awhile, and get this place whipped into shape. We entertain a lot, so the big projects are the kitchen and living room. The kitchen is right off the patio where the pool is – so it’s the most “seen” room when people visit, since that sliding glass door is our usual entrance – I figured it’s the first place to start.

Red Kitchenaid Mixer

The kitchen has got good “bones,” if you know what I mean – nice cabinets and appliances, a great kitchen island, and awesome tile.  Everything is very neutral colored, so I decided to decorate based on my favorite thing in the kitchen – my red KitchenAid mixer. I’m working on a couple of pieces of wall art, and have some shopping to do – but first job is organizing cupboards and drawers.

Using Duck brand shelf liner

First step was emptying out drawers. Next step? This super pretty Duck® Brand shelf liner. It’s not an adhesive liner, so you don’t have to worry about a mess or any damage when you want to remove it or change styles. It’s machine washable, which is really cool. And even though it’s not adhesive – it still “sticks” when you put it down. Like, just stays in place really well.

Using shelf liner in kitchen drawers

There are like a million styles and designs – check ’em out here: Duck Brand’s Shelf Liner. You just measure, cut, and place in the drawer or on a shelf. And you know what’s crazy? The patterns match up awesomely – this is two pieces of shelf liner next to each other. You can barely see the difference in the pattern – and I did NOT try at all to match them. Cool, right?

Why use shelf liner? [Read more…]


Laundry Room Mini-Makeover: 5 Tips to Get You Organized

Do you guys remember my super messy laundry room that I showed you last week? {You know, the one that’s not even a real “room” – just a little alcove section in the hall…} Well, with the help of a couple of smart little gadgets, and some amazingly sturdy Banker’s Boxes in a pretty print, I have tackled the mess, and now have a space that’s more useful, and much nicer to look at! Check it out….

How to store your mops and brooms [Read more…]


Join Me: Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life

I found an absolutely amazing site today, where she’s got a pretty awesome challenge going on… The site is called Modern Parents Messy Kids, and the challenge is called – Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life. Sounds simple enough, right? Lol. But seriously – she takes on an enormous sounding challenge like that, and breaks it down into totally do-able tips. One of my favorites so far is the Mega Cleaning Action Plan. She links up to a seriously huge list of other resources, gives you realistic ideas to make a plan that will work for you, and makes it all actually seem kind of fun. {You know, if cleaning your house can be fun….} But honestly, the main challenge I have in my home is having enough time. Working on her projects will help any of us build better routines, which saves a ton of time = meaning less stress, and happier moms. What more can you ask for?rules for survival: parenting

Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: Join Me!

I’m going to be making these challenges a part of my weekly routine starting this week. {Love her Parenting Survival Routines above. She’s so cleverly funny.} So, make sure to check out her site, and learn a little more about this project – then I’d LOVE to have some of you ladies follow along too! Every week I’ll take on a new part of the project, like Meal Planning, Routines for Kids, or the Mega Cleaning. I’ll link back to her amazing posts filled with info, and let you guys know what kind of progress I’m making. SUPER excited for this. I really think this is going to help me a ton.

What’s YOUR Biggest Home Challenge? Share in the Comments…


Love your kids, but hate their toy clutter – Smart Storage Solutions!

Love your kids, but hate their toy clutter? Then keep reading…. Most of you know about my Master Bedroom & Playroom Makeover Challenge I’m working on…. Due to some extra family living with us for awhile, Abby is sharing the Master Bedroom with me for another year. I thought that babies had a lot of gear – but transitioning to a toddler has brought SO many more storage challenges! Toddler = Lots and lots of toys. I rearranged our space to make more of a playroom area for her and I wanted a way to store all of that toy clutter out of sight, while still making it easy for her to access to play and put away. I have found a PERFECT solution – The ClosetMaid Cubeicals 9-Cube Organizer.

storage ideas for kids toys

5 Ways ClosetMaid solves your toy storage challenges

This ClosetMaid Cube Organizer comes in 5 different finishes, and the fabric cubes are available in single or double packs in over 20 awesome colors – which means you can totally customize this piece to match any space in your home. I love that it coordinates perfectly with our Catskill Craftsmen Black Storage Chest & Bench, and I was able to find a fabric bin that matches our storage buckets too! {Those are a fun dollar store find, that we personalized with stickers to spell Abby’s name.} Here are a few of the reasons I’m lovin’ it –

  1. It’s well made. This organizer is made of laminate, but is so much more sturdy than a lot of other laminate pieces I’ve looked at. It’s strong, without the slightest hint of a wobble – which is incredibly important when it’s going to be used by a toddler.
  2. It’s durable. I have a laminate desk in the same finish, that scratches SO easily. In over a month of use, there is not a single mark on the ClosetMaid organizer. The finish has a great texture to it, and holds up great with a toddlers wild playtime antics.
  3. The bins are super helpful. This gives me a way to hide all of Abby’s toy clutter out of sight, but it’s still easy for Abby to access things when she wants them, and simple to pick things up when playtime is over.
  4. Fun way to display. The cubes without the fabric bins in them give us a super fun way to display some of Abby’s favorite dolls and toys, and make the playroom area look super fun!
  5. Easy to reach. The organizer is just the right height for a toddler – she can easily reach all of the cubes, to get all of her favorite toys!

So, it’s a well built piece that gives you a fun way to store toys, while keeping clutter hidden out of site – what more could you ask for, right?

toddler toy storage ideas

“Having a two-year-old is like having a blender without a lid.” – Jerry Seinfeld

See how easy it is for little hands to pull out a bin of toys at play time? Each fabric cube is sturdy enough for storage, but also can collapse down flat if you decide not to use them. And, since they’re fabric, they can take some abuse – like when my little girl crawls inside one of them to read a book, lol. They have handles on them too – which is great if you want to bring a toy bin to another room to play. We’re thinking about making decals for the bins, like the ones on the toy buckets, to label what goes in each one –  Dolls, Cars, Blocks, and Music – as she gets a little bit bigger.

ClosetMaid is a busy moms dream come true…

ClosetMaid is known for durable storage solutions at affordable prices – perfect for busy moms. They even have some cool tools on their site to help you design your own perfect spaces and places in your home – check out the uDesign tool to create your own one-of-a-kind organization designs, very cool.

Want one too? You can get the ClosetMaid 9-Cube Laminate Organizer online today, or look for it in major retailers like Target and Fred Meyer.

More Fun Ideas and Get Connected

Stay updated on cool new products and promotions by following ClosetMaid on Facebook and Twitter. And for more super fun toy storage ideas, check out my Playroom Storage inspiration board on Pinterest – and feel free to pin these ideas to your own boards too.

{Disclaimer: I received a complimentary organizer product to review – all opinions, photos, and tips are 100% my own! Love this product, and I know you will too.}


Smart Solution: Seriously Simple Shared Schedules

Is the Mister going to be home for dinner? Does that business meeting conflict with basketball practice? Game night, girl’s night, date night… keeping everyone’s schedules straight in my work and family life is a herculean effort. To manage everyone’s coming and going, I need something more than just a place to jot things down (sorry, paper calendar). What I need is a system that truly supports me and helps me get through my day, one commitment at a time.

Google Calendar

That’s why I can’t live without Google Calendar. Let me count the ways I love it: I can use it anywhere (so every device I have gets me where I’m going), it’s easy to share schedules, so I can coordinate efforts with co-workers and significant others, aaaand it’s free.

Watch this week’s Twirl to learn to see why gCal and I have a standing appointment….

Um, can you say life changing??

Ok, maybe that sounds dramatic. But for me – it’s true. Let me tell you a little story about how I found out about Google Calendar…. I have an incredibly packed full calendar. Between my family, freelance work, my Examiner column, and work for this site – there are a lot of deadlines, appointments, and commitments to keep track of. I was struggling to keep it all straight – and had asked around for suggestions. Google Calendar sounded like the best fit for me, so one night I open it up, and add a couple of things to it to see how it worked. Seemed cool, figured I’d mess around with it later the next day, when I had some free time.

Technology is Freaky Smart

The next morning, an alarm went off on my iPhone, reminding me of a conference call I had in an hour. Whaaaat the? I did NOT add an alarm for that??!! Then I realized, I had put that on the gCal. How the heck did it sync itself to my phone? I have no idea. Seriously, I’m tech challenged like that. {Which is why the tips from Digitwirl are so perfect for me} – but now, I’ve been sloooowly learning how it all works, and I can’t believe how much more organized I am!

Are you a gCal girl?

I can’t wait until Digitwirl shares some user tips about gCal, to help me learn all of the cool tools better. Do you use it too? If you’ve got questions – Head over to their Facebook wall to post ’em up! They are SO great at helping me whenever I need a great product suggestion, or when I need help figuring something out. These ladies are total genius rockstars, no lie. Check them out – Digitwirl on Facebook.

Find more Smart Solutions for Busy Moms, and Tech Tips Made Simple on Pinterest!, Carley KnoblochDigitwirl is the weekly web show that offers simple solutions to modern day problems. In 3 minutes, Digitwirl brings busy women the very best time, money, and sanity-saving technology, and then teaches them how to use it, step-by-step. Digitwirl was created by technology lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch, who uses lots of technology to manage her busy life as mom of two and entrepreneur. Become a subscriber to get weekly show alerts and exclusive deals at, or follow Digitwirl on Twitter at @digitwirl.


Bloggers Have Messy Homes & Other Thoughts on Housework…

“My House was clean yesterday. Sorry you missed it.” – I want this wooden sign. I want to hang it over the front entry way of my home, so people know what to expect. But, I saw this picture on Facebook, with no link, so I’m unsure of where to buy it. I searched the web, and all I can find is some shopping site from the UK, but I don’t have UK money. I don’t know what those little L shaped dollar signs even mean. So if you find this for sale in US dollars, please let me know. Better yet – Tell Santa. He knows where I live.

A Clean House is the Sign of a Broken Computer


“A Messy House is a sign of Creativity”

There are tons of bloggers who have beautiful homes. People like the couple over at Young House Love – they blog, and they blog about the amazingly creative upgrades that they do to their home. And their home is clean. Not while they’re doing projects, of course. But even when they’re ripping out a wall and building something from wood that probably came from a tree that they grew from a seed, and then cut down themselves with hand tools {they’re amazing, and I’m sure that they do this} – Even during those big remodels, I’m pretty sure their house is still less of a disaster than mine is. So, while many people say “A Messy House is a sign of Creativity” – the creative bloggers I’ve seen all have amazing homes. I try to keep up with housework – while I wait for my camera to upload new pictures for a review, I throw a load of laundry in. I blog while I cook dinner. I multi-task. Yet still, between bottles and snacks and backpacks and homework and writing and giveaways and bath time and story time and answering emails – the housework lingers. It mocks me from the messy corners, knowing that I don’t have time to leave my computer chair and tackle it. I should tackle it too. Football style.

“I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.” – Joan Rivers

Surprising fact – I like cleaning. I get excited over new kitchen sponges with cool designs. I love buying the latest cleaning gadgets – the Black & Decker Steam Mop thrills me ten times more than my new iPhone. I’m a bit {ok, my family would say a lot} OCD – I insist on all of the drinkware being put away on the shelf in rows: juice glasses, mugs, then tall drinking glasses. In rows, people – we’re not animals. You don’t just stack a drinking glass in front of a mug? Who does that? And the canned goods should also be in rows, according to type, with all labels facing forward. Who puts a can of corn in the green bean row? Right? Books and DVD’s should be organized according to color. Why is this so hard for the savages that I live with to understand?

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” – Phyllis Diller

The problem is this – 2 years ago, I lived alone. Just me and my cat. She was a neighborhood stray that adopted me when I moved into my new house. I asked her what her name was; she said “Meow.” Weird name, but I don’t judge. So I lived in a clean, neat, and organized home for a couple years, just me and Meow. Then life threw some curve balls, as it tends to do when things are going along too comfortably. First, my mother moved into the spare bedroom – with her 4 little dogs. Then, my brother and his 2 boys remodeled my basement, and moved in too. They brought a few fish – but they had a tank, so that was ok too. Then I found out I was pregnant. Woah. So my boyfriend moved in with me. He brought a dog. My house was now a bit different. And by “a bit”, I mean like flipped upside down. Flipped like one of those rides at the fair that I’m much too old to ride.

“I will clean house when Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner.” – Roseanne Barr

What at first was going to be a temporary arrangement has become the new normal. Our house is filled with messes, craziness, and mayhem – but it’s also filled with love. I drink much more coffee now than I ever have before – {and if you know me, you know I drink it by the bucket!} – just to keep up with it all. My mother and I decided to buy a new home together last November – it’s not that much bigger, but it has a pool, and a really big property, and is in a much better area. I love this house. I love the view from my back door, of the beautiful snow-covered fields and trees. And I love the view inside – of Abby smile when she’s dancing in the kitchen with Grandma, while Daddy cooks us a great dinner, and Uncle James plays with those wild nephews of mine. My brother and the boys will probably move out sometime this next year – so for now, I try to ignore the chaos, and enjoy having them all here. With a full house, Abby can’t yet move to her own room, and is sharing the Master Bedroom with her Daddy and I. But while she may not get her own room – she gets to play with her cousins every day. She gets to see Grandma and Uncle James every night. She’s surrounded by a big bunch of people who adore her. And a house full of family, love, and happiness is about as good as it gets. So, I suppose the cleaning can wait…

“And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”
―Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

What do YOU think?

Share your stories in the comments… Are you a blogger who actually has a clean home? How do you feel about cleaning up after kids? Do you clean up after kids? Or do your children play board games with the dust bunnies? I love hearing from you guys.

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