How To Get A Clean, Clutter-Free Home... With Young Kids!

This post was originally written 4 years ago when we just had 1 child. I thought it'd be a good time to re-share it, as our house is currently on the market again, and we now have 2 children as well as a dog living in our tiny home. :)

About 6 months ago, Ken and I decided to put our house up for sale. Our son was about 1 1/2 at the time, and we were quickly accumulating a lot of... stuff. Our house is small by many standards - 1092 sq ft - 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and one "great room" that serves as main living area, dining room, and kitchen. It's a beautiful home - it's just kinda small. And, we wanted something bigger. We were looking to upgrade into a home at least twice the size, to hold all of our new "stuff". But first, we needed to "stage" our house. Basically, this means you get rid of photos, nick-nacks, clutter... nothing... so potential buyers see your house, not your stuff. Needless to say, we relocated A LOT of our stuff to the garage, so our house would show better.

And, something happened. Our house went from feeling small and cramped to feeling amazing! I enjoyed not having a lot of clutter. I felt relaxed and calm. It changed my whole mood. Part of me didn't want to even sell anymore. I wanted to get rid of all of my junk and clutter, so I could have the picture perfect house that I was in. I realized that we didn't necessarily even need a bigger house. We just needed less junk.

Our kitchen & dining room area
So, our house has been on the market for almost 6 months now, and while we've had quite a few showing, and even a bid - we have yet to sell. And, that's fine with me. If we get an amazing offer within the next few weeks, things might change. But, I'm pretty sure we're going to stick it out quite a while longer here.

And, remember all of that junk that was in the garage? Well, it turned out that I didn't miss it much at all. We've recently started bringing stuff back into the house... and I started to feel my spirits going down. My nice house was starting to turn into a mess again. And I hated it. So, the stuff brought in from the garage quickly became "stuff to donate" or "stuff to put in the attic".

But what about ALL of Phoenix's toys? Well, they were pretty much taking over the entire house, and had quite a bit to do with our desire to upgrade into a bigger home. His closet was packed with toys. Toys were all over his bedroom. Toys were everywhere in the living room. Toys were in the computer room. And, you know what? He hardly ever played with any of them. They'd get thrown all over... and, in the end, he'd just play with his few favorites. But, his lack of interest in many of his toys is actually a blessing in disguise.

I read about this on a website - Small Notebook For  ASimple Home - and it makes COMPLETE sense. Too many toys were overwhelming Phoenix. He doesn't need 50 books to choose from. He doesn't need a million little cars. Toddlers thrive with fewer toys to focus their attention on. They're able to focus, and play with just one thing. So, keeping this in mind...  

  1. We've taken some of the "big" toys he never plays with, and are putting them in the attic. There's also a BIG bin of stuffed animals going up too. This alone has done wonders for organizing his toys that he does use. We'll bring one down every now and then... but in general, there's no sense in un-used toys taking up valuable real estate in a small house. And, since they're toys he hardly ever uses, it just makes sense.
  2. I scrapped the elaborate bin system I created (small toys, shapes, cars, balls, soft toys, shapes etc.). It just took up WAY too much space having so many boxes in his closet - and things never ended up in the right boxes anyways. Now, he has 2 medium-sized tupperware containers for his closet. 
  3. Toys that hang (like a drum kit with a strip), or can be put in a bucket with a handle - are all hanging in his closet on hangers. Instead of having tons of magnetic numbers, duplo blocks, shapes, and small parts in one "small toys" box, they're separated out - making them easier to find and play with.   
  4. I removed all but a few books from his shelf in his room, and put the rest in his newly-renovated closet. This freed up an entire shelf in his room. 
  5. He now has 3 shelfs of toys to play with at any given time. I'll rotate them out with the toys in the Tupperware bins in his closet.
And, when I was finished, something crazy happened. Phoenix got a toy of the shelf... something that had always been out - but hidden in the clutter - and he started playing with it. And, he played with it for longer than he ever had. I almost couldn't believe it - having fewer toys was working!

In fact... do you know what Phoenix loves to play with the most? Things that aren't toys. He'll play with the vacuum cleaner extension parts, he'll play with our cats, he'll climb all over Daddy or Mommy, he'll help me with laundry, and he'll jump on a matress, or review what he's not allowed to play with. Times he's playing with toys are few and far between... and it's almost always a toy car he's playing with. 

There's still more work to be done, but I feel like a switch has gone off in my head. I feel better living a cleaner, more organized, less cluttered home. I no longer have a desire to accumulate things. In fact, I only have the desire to get rid of more of my stuff. It's true what Tyler Durden says in Fight Club - "The things you own end up owning you."

And, to perhaps help you on your own journey to de-cluttering your life, I'll leave you with the following Buddhist story:

Releasing the Cows - Told by Master Thich Nhat Hanh

 One day the Buddha was sitting in the wood with thirty or forty monks. They had an excellent lunch and they were enjoying the company of each other. There was a farmer passing by and the farmer was very unhappy. He asked the Buddha and the monks whether they had seen his cows passing by.

The Buddha said they had not seen any cows passing by. The farmer said, "Monks, I'm so unhappy. I have twelve cows and I don't know why they all ran away. I have also a few acres of a sesame seed plantation and the insects have eaten up everything. I suffer so much I think I am going to kill myself.

The Buddha said, "My friend, we have not seen any cows passing by here. You might like to look for them in the other direction."


So the farmer thanked him and ran away, and the Buddha turned to his monks and said, "My dear friends, you are the happiest people in the world. You don't have any cows to lose. If you have too many cows to take care of, you will be very busy.


"That is why, in order to be happy, you have to learn the art of cow releasing (laughter). You release the cows one by one. In the beginning you thought that those cows were essential to your happiness, and you tried to get more and more cows. But now you realize that cows are not really conditions for your happiness; they constitute an obstacle for your happiness. That is why you are determined to release your cows." 

I've found a few nice storage bins have been a huge help in the decluttering process. By putting things in bins, and putting them in the attic, I'm able to see how our family does after getting rid of certain items, without getting rid of them yet. Items that have been in bins for 6 months to a year that have never been needed are safe to sell at the flea market or donate to Goodwill. Here are a few bins I recommend for storing unwanted items in the attic, basement, or garage.

My Favorite Spring Looks #StyleSaturday

The other day, as I was looking through my closet for something to wear, I came to the realization that I'm desperately over winter clothes. I'm really looking forward to some of the fun, colorful warmer weather styles. Here are a few that are a bit outside of my comfort zone, but I'm definitely going to shop for once the weather warms up a bit. :)

A form-fitting, slouchy, grey tee with coral accessories.


A casual, classic navy blue & olive green outfit.


This bright coral outfit with tan accents really make the colors pop. 


A bright & fun outfit, perfect for the first day of spring. 


A coral & mint outfit perfect for a date night. 


Everyday casual with mint & white. 


Thank you so much for stopping by! What are you looking forward to wearing this spring? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)


Easy Bread Machine Cibatta Rolls Recipe

Bread Machine Ciabatta Rolls Cibatta Rolls - Bread Machine Recipe

Give any sandwich an instant upgrade with these easy, delicious homemade cibatta rolls... made easy with the help of a bread machine!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4  cups flour (bread flour or white flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

Instructions

  • Add ingredients - liquids first to bread machine.
  • Start dough cycle.
  • After dough cycle is complete, place dough on lightly floured surface, cover with large bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Lightly flour baking sheets. Divide dough into 12 pieces, and place onto baking sheets,dimple surface, and lightly flour. 
  • Cover & let rise in draft-free place for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Dimple dough second time, and place loaves on middle rack in oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. During baking, spray loaves with water every 5 minutes for a crispier crust.
Preparation time is approximately 4 hours.
Feel free to make this recipe your own by customizing it with your favorite spices.

Recipe inspired by this Cibatta Bread Recipe.

Don't forget to leave a comment with any suggestions you have. :)

12 Tips To Grow Out A Pixie Like A Model #StyleSaturday


Lately when it comes to hair, I'm starting to look toward Pintrest for inspiration, especially when it comes to growing out short pixie hair. There certainly is no shortage of beautiful ladies on Pintrest growing out their pixie. Here's a collection of some model-esque ladies working on growing out their pixies... or just rockin' short 'dos that can easily be inspiration for anyone looking to grow out their pixie cut. Enjoy!


#1. Experiment With Color - Like A Short & Blonde Choppy Bob


#2. Try A Fun Textured Bob


#3. Grow Out Longer Pieces on Top First


#4. Long Side-swept Layers Make A Bob Fun To Grow Out 


#5. Keep Hair Funky & makeup Fresh Like This Adorable Grow-Out Look


#6. Grow Out Layers On Top & Keep It Trimmed To The Neck


#7. Grab Your Curling Iron For Fun Textured Waves Once Layers Have Grown Out A Bit


#8. Avoid The Post-bob Mullett... It's All In Keeping It Trimmed To The Neck At First


#9. Keep Styling Those Longer Layers As Long As Possible


#10. First Year Goal - A Perfect Chin-Length Bob


#11. Tuck Long Ends Behind Ears & Add Some Body In Back


#12. Blow-Dry Upside-down To Get This Fun Flip










Thank you so much for stopping by! Do you have any tips for growing out a pixie? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)


Our Last-Minute Disney World Vacation

Ken and I had never planned on taking our family to Disney World. Ever. Our dream vacation was always more along the lines of getting a private beach-front hut in The Bahamas. Well, when Ken's mom decided to buy a condo in Florida recently, she knew there was one way to get us to come and visit her... to offer to pay for our entire Disney Vacation and also spend some time visiting them in their new condo. Despite the fact she knew we wanted nothing to do with Disney. But... she knew I couldn't turn down a free vacation, and before we knew it, our family was having the most amazing vacation at Disney World and in Florida. A million thanks to my amazing mother-in-law for making this vacation happen.

The photo opp we couldn't mess - the family standing in front of Cinderella's Castle on Main Street in Disney World.

A great photo of Phoenix & Ken riding the carousel. Yes... that's Ken back there...

"When I was a kid, we actually had to stand in line and wait for rides..."
Well, not any more! Here's Phoenix playing with some drums while in line for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Ariana having a blast with the bee roller-coaster while in line.



Phoenix & Ariana ready to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with grandma. :)

Another ride with grandma... The Teacups!

Ariana flashing the "I love you" (or is it the rock 'n' roll salute?) sign as Phoenix stands tall.

Phoenix couldn't wait to get the White Rabbit's autograph... after he razzed him for always being late!
The White Rabbit started gesturing at his wrist watch like crazy and jumping all over the place...
the friend he was walking around with even asked me what Phoenix said to get such a reaction out of him! 

Talking about their sleds with the lovely Princess Anna of Arendelle. Phoenix had a blast chatting her up!
Anna was very interested in hearing about Phoenix's & Ariana's red, curricular sled which was pulled by
a mommy, and not reindeer, like Sven's sled. She thought it sounded very cool, and said she wanted one!

Hanging out with Queen Elsa of Arendelle. She told them how they played hide-and-seek with Olaf!
He's tricky to find because he hides his head in one room, body in another room, bottom in another room,
but the hardest thing of all to find is his carrot nose!

Hugs from Cinderella.

Cinderella hugs for Phoenix too!

Ariel charring with Ariana.

Phoenix showing Ariel the tooth he just lost!

Hugs with Ariel...

But Phoenix wouldn't let her go that easy! He's gearing up for quite the long conversation with her right here...
and Ariel totally played it up with our talkative boy!

dddd

The key to dressing for Disney World in February? Layers! Lots of layers!

Enjoying a few moment to myself as Phoenix & Ariana played at The Boneyard at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

What you get 99% of the time when you try to snap Ariana's picture!

Posing in front of a massive postcard at Downtown Disney.

Special treats for the kids at Goofy's Candy Company... Phoenix picked a marshmallow & chocolate Olaf.

Ariana opted for a pretty pink Minnie Mouse-shaped macaroon. 

For me it was a massive Mickey Mouse shaped rice crispy treat, dipped in chocolate and covered in Butterfingers!

A great photo opp with Donald & Daisy Duck!

They also snagged a photo with Mickey & Minnie.

Down-time at Downtown Disney included building some cool Lego creations.

Phoenix's Lego creation.

Phoenix getting ready to test his vehicle at the Lego test track.

A quick pic of Ariana, before she got a moment to hide!

Another great photo of Ariana.

We all had such a great time at Disney. It was one of those vacations that felt like we were gone for a month!

I think February was a perfect time for our family to go, because we had really short lines (15 minutes at the most)... if there were any lines at all! Rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan's Flight we were able to walk right on. And, because we spent so little time waiting in lines, we were able to do so much in a short time. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! have you ever been to Disney? What's your favorite memory? Feel free to leave a comment, as always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)