The Paper Pickle {31 Days of Life. Contained.}

Life Contained 2014 button

This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Life. Contained. Want to catch up on the entire series? Click here. Want to stay connected and not miss another post? Follow me on facebook.


Paper. What do you do with it? It is surely the monster that threatens to consume my very existence or at the very least, my sanity.

the paper pickle

As of this year, we have three girls attending a charter school. This equates to piles of school papers. Piles.

What do I do with it all, I ask you? Short of hiring a personal secretary, I stumbled across this concept -keepsake boxes.

We began using them last year and it changed my life.

school paper organization

I went to Office Depot to pick up the very same colorful totes that Toni used for her kiddos. Clearly, I was making the right decision when I saw that they were buy one, get one free. I now had Office Depot backing me up. When you waffle on making decisions like I do, a sale sign seems paramount. It was like pushing the easy button but in the wrong store.

I rounded another corner, and boom. The hanging file folders were also on sale. Of course they were. This mission was corporate-approved, I tell you. Could a project be made any easier (and cheaper) than this? These childhood boxes were meant to be. I could not deny it.

children's paper storage

I grabbed up the colors that I needed in the totes as well as their coordinating folders. (Remember my children are color coded.)

school paper storage

I used my labeler to make the following labels for the files. While I used some of the same folder names as Toni, I did not follow her list exactly. Nor will you, if you should choose to try this organizational method. Obviously though, grades K-12, report cards, birthday cards, artwork, etc. will be necessary for any child. The more extracurricular preferences and interests will be the areas that vary.

  •  Birthday cards
  • Report cards
  • School pictures
  • Artwork
  • Toddler years
  • Kindergarten- Twelfth Grade (one file for each grade)
  • Church (Sunday School, AWANA, VBS, etc.)
  • Academic Awards

storing school papers

And yes, it was a little emotional to print labels such as these. The senior year of high school seems so distant, but then I remind myself, so did fifth grade and yet here we are. The years are like water in my hand, slipping by at a rate that is beyond my control.

I still have several empty files to organize new categories as my children continue to grow and to pursue new interests.

organizing school papers

Their boxes are stored on the top shelves of their bedroom closets for easy access. At the end of each semester, I sort through their school papers and decide which to keep and which to toss.

(A life lesson I’ve learned: Never sort and discard papers during the daytime — and certainly not in their presence. Tears will be sure to follow.)

memory storage for children

(As shown in the pictures, I have two totes that I’ve fully finished creating and labeling files. The blue and green keepsake totes are still being worked on.)

Pink. Purple. Blue. Green. I just need to go grab their orange one for Baby Van. ( By the way, I love being able to share her “name” now. It makes me smile just typing it.)

Orange would be the perfect choice for my October baby — Mama’s little pumpkin.


tip 24

How do you store your children’s handiwork, schoolwork and keepsakes? A designated filing drawer in the family’s filing cabinet? A cardboard box under your bed? Taking the time to sort and organize papers will not only help to better preserve their work, but will also help to reduce the amount of storage used. Tame that monster today.

Thanks for reading.


Sprucing-Up Living Rooms {HSU Challenge}

Holiday Spruce-Up 2014


Welcome to my Holiday Spruce-Up 2014 Challenge. This post is part of my seven week home series dedicated to preparing our homes for the holiday season. Join me every Monday morning for a quick lists of tasks for a dedicated zone in our homes. On the weekends, I’m sharing how I tackled the list in my own home. Sign up here to receive email updates delivered straight to your inbox or follow along on facebook for real time progress, tidbits and more.


Living Room (HSU)

I finished last week’s cleaning challenge and finally photographed it this morning. The weather was still not my friend as Mr. Sun was continuing to hide behind some rain clouds. Oh well.

I wiped down the windows with my homemade glass cleaner. This always helps to brighten up rooms a bit. I love seeing daylight pouring into a room through sparkling-clean window panes.

I only had to do the inside of these windows since I had washed the outside during the outdoors challenge.

cleaning windows

I also knocked down cobwebs, scrubbed baseboards and wiped down walls. Many grimy spots and tiny hand prints were cleaned away.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly dirt and dust can build up in my home. Tell me it’s not just my house.

All wooden surfaces were polished. I enjoy using all-natural products to clean my furniture. I use either my homemade furniture polish or simply buff everything really well with coconut oil and a lint-free rag.

Simple. furniture

Lamps and overhead lighting were wiped down. I used an attachment to vacuum the dust from each of the shades. What a difference this small job makes.

While I had the attachment out and ready, I went ahead and vacuumed out our leather side chairs, love seat and sofa. They were not too bad. Since we have our “no food out of the kitchen” rule that we try to live by, crumbs are not as big of an issue as they used to be.

Trust me. I’ve seen it pretty bad. Seriously. In times past,I could lift up my couch cushions and forage for days—never coming up chairs

The micro-suede couches were wiped down with a damp rag from top to bottom, inside and out.

And as tempted as I am to decorate for Christmas, I resisted the urge and left out my fall decor. I haven’t grown weary of them yet. Pumpkins still speak to me.

Of course, that’s not to say that I’m not eager to drag out my red and green stuff yet. I am. I’m just trying to make the most of each season and not rush the days. Time is fleeting enough as it is, without my nudging it along.

I mean, really, Thanksgiving is already next week. NEXT week. Wow. clearing surfaces

Moving on.

Pianos can become very grimy and dirty, especially the keyboard.

Taking the time to polish the ol’ ivories may be tedious, but it is well worth the task.

Pianos are lovely pieces to grace any room. Truly beautiful.

I so love having a piano in our piano keys

And ours is really getting a workout lately. Bunny is practically living on its bench. I even caught her trying to eat a bowl of cereal while practicing songs between bites. Yikes.

I sent her back to the kitchen, hiding a huge smile on my face.

She is definitely the daughter of a music piano

Washing my winter pillow covers and cozy throws were a must. This winter-white throw from Pottery Barn has been well loved for several years now.
This throw (as well as a green one) were both purchased during a great clearance sale, my favorite time to throws

My wreaths are still hanging on my wall (although I only have two up now). I love the texture and rustic feel that they bring into my living space.
living room decorA shallow basket on my coffee table is filled with metal spheres, wicker balls, twig gourds and faux pumpkins. Not only does this assortment give a proper nod to the autumn season, but it also camouflages the remotes. This is truly the method of “hiding in plain view” at its finest.

I just love my twig gourds and pumpkins. I bought them during an end-of-season sale at Michaels years ago for a nickel a piece. And every year I regret that I did not buy more. You certainly cannot beat that price.

fall decor

Last of all, I mopped the floors, on my hands and knees. And yes, I will probably pay for this technique in the years to come. I try to not do it this way very often, but sometimes they just need a good scrubbing and buffing.

Whew. It feels good to have this room clean. I wonder how long it will last though. Dare I hope that I’ll only need to do some light cleaning before Thanksgiving?living room floors

Well, judging from the pile of crumbs and toys and pencils/pens and hair and dust bunnies and just plain trash, nope….

It’ll need cleaned again tomorrow. ;)living room dirt

So how did you do this past week? Were you able to finish your living room or family room area? Ever sweep up piles like this? I hope that you are enjoying this series as much as I am. It feels good to do a little bit of extra cleaning to make my home truly shine this holiday season. Now are you ready to begin work on the heart of the home—the kitchen? I’ve already started a few odd jobs on this week’s list.

Happy cleaning,


Week 3: Kitchen {HSU Challenge}

Holiday Spruce-Up 2014


Welcome to my Holiday Spruce-Up 2014 Challenge. This post is part of my seven week home series dedicated to preparing our homes for the holiday season. Join me every Monday morning for a quick lists of tasks for a dedicated zone in our homes. On the weekends, I’m sharing how I tackled the list in my own home. Sign up here to receive email updates delivered straight to your inbox or follow along on facebook for real time progress, tidbits and more.


Kitchen (HSU)

Did you realize that Thanksgiving is next week already? I know. It’s unreal. The days fly by, don’t they?

Speaking of holidays, we have our outdoor areas and our living rooms all polished and organized for the gathering of family and friends. Now let’s get our kitchens ready for all that cooking and baking that we’ll be doing next week, ok?

(I know. I’m issuing a new challenge without showing you the progress in my living room. I will have that post go up later today. Time and weather were not on my side last week and I couldn’t bear the thought of sharing rushed, dark photos. That would not be very inspiring, would it? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.)

Let’s roll up our sleeves, stick our hands in the suds and start scrubbing.

Well, …everything. :)

                                                          Week Three: Kitchen List

Wipe down walls and baseboards; knock down cobwebs; clean oven/stove. Wipe down the outside of all large appliances.

Polish/clean all lighting; wash inside windows (and outside if these were not done during week one); scrub the outside of all cabinetry; clean out microwave.

Clean flooring; polish kitchen table/chairs (if any); organize and clean any other furniture (desk, buffet/sideboard, etc.).

Deep-clean inside of  fridge and freezer. Wipe out, discard old food and organize the pantry.

Wipe out all kitchen cabinets, organize and donate any items that you no longer use. Scrub down counters and small appliances.


And if you still have a few tasks that you want to finish up outdoors and/or in your living areas, go ahead and do so if you’d like. Everyone has their own schedule, family and home to work around. This series primary goal was intended to inspire, not to hold anyone to a strict timeline. We are all doing the best that we can and that’s what really matters.



Denim and Boots

February 22, 2011 changed my world as I knew it forever. We were no longer a house of pink.

While I was certainly eager to be welcoming home Baby Pop, I suddenly found myself in an uncharted territory of motherhood. I was no longer just a mommy to girls. I now had a son.

A boy.

denim and boots

Ummm. Okay,…so now what?

I had no clue.

Needless to say, Pop sent me down the fast track of mothering boys. I learned the hard way—more than once, I’m afraid—that diapering sessions must be quick and brief. He showered me (and himself!) on numerous occasions. He also taught me that boys, from birth and on up, are always hungry. His appetite (once we got it kick-started) has never slowed down.

dress boots

Hollow legs must be a real issue.

However, one of the things that I used to struggle with the most was how to dress little boys.

What in the world could I put on him that is just stinkin’ adorable and cute?

hockey graphic shirtYou see, I was used to frills and lace. Hair bows, giant flower headbands, intricate braids and gorgeous ringlets. Doll babies and petite-sized pocket books. Poofy dresses, plastic jewelry and patent leather shoes.

But you know what?

khaki cargo pantsI’ve come to realize that finding outfits for my little man can be just as fun.

I’ve fallen in love with the cargo jeans, workboots and matchbox cars. Newsboy caps, sweater vests and corded pants. And maybe a lone dinosaur. Denim jackets, plaid shirts and cowboy boots.

jean jacketThese now make my heart skip a beat. Denim + boots. <3

I thoroughly enjoy dressing my little boy everyday.

fall casual outfit for boysJust the sight of him makes me smile.

fall fashion for boys

But then again, I am his mother.  ;)


Fall Fashion for Little Boys: Denim and Boots

Here’s the rundown of how I stretched my dollars to dress my little guy.

  • Old Navy Jean jacket- bought at a consignment sale for $5.00      (similar ….Old Navy would be cheaper, but they did not have any for boys online…other than this, secondhand is good too!)
  • Gapkids orange long sleeve graphic t-shirt- online clearance for $2.00      (similar ….Pop has this one too… in blue. Gap has usually had tees for really good prices on Black Friday in years past. Only $5 I think? And they are excellent quality.)
  • Gymboree khaki cargo pants- thrift store for $2.39      (similar ….Pop’s pants are more of a heavy material than these…chino perhaps? They just do not wrinkle which is every mom’s dream, I know.)
  • Gapkids orange and white striped socks (not shown) – $0.69      (similar ….Pop also has these socks as well. They do not pill. I pick up socks for my children’s gift tubs when they are marked down to  $0.99 with an additional 40% off + 10% Tuesday.)
  • Faded Glory “cowboy” boots- a gift      (same ….He loves these. I have to convince him to wear other shoes and to give these boots a break.)

There you have it. A casual outfit built with interchangeable, classic pieces for roughly $10 bucks—including shoes and outerwear.

How about you? How do you (or did you) dress your children without breaking the bank? Sales racks? Thrift stores? Sew your own? Ever struggle with dressing little boys in cute clothes? Leave a reply. I’d love to hear.