Christmas Clean Up.

cleaning-up-from-christmas

Sadly, we de-Christmased our house this past weekend.  I always feel like we are putting our decorations back like a week after we’ve put them up.  The time just flies.  The good news is I have a nice organized system (duh) for storing everything so I never feel like it’s going back to some big black abyss for the next 11 months.  Last year I wrote about a few things I use to keep holiday decor at bay, so I won’t go into those details again, but here is a quick picture round up of our Great Christmas Clean Up.

Clockwise from top: ornaments are wrapped in old tissue paper and placed in red ornament box on the left, while all other Christmas decor is stacked in tupperware bin on the right; one layer of ornaments nice and snug in their little square cube homes; all done – ornaments tucked away, mantel/table/window decor cozied up for the year, and lights off the tree and neatly strung for next year; B bringing A over to the naked tree to say “bah bah” – she insisted on wearing her hat and mittens.  Look at that droopy PJ butt.  So cute.

So with that, “bah bah” Holidays!  See you again next year when you sneak up on us, add ten pounds to our JUST “lost the last five from last year” frame, and then leave us with no days off until Memorial day.  Welcome Winter Blahs.

A Room With a Roll. And Tape. And Scissors.

First, some housekeeping items.  As I mentioned last week, Keep It Neat turned one this past weekend!  Happy Blogiversary to us! (Me & KIN that is).  To celebrate, I’ll direct you back to the posts from my very first week living in the blogosphere, right here and here.  Feels good to be going strong, although admittedly at this time of year it’s way too hard to find time to share my bits of neat-dom and I know I’ve been slacking.  Ironically it’s also the time of year that pushes us to our organizing limits.  Lists to make! Things to pack! Decorating! Baking! Presents to wrap!  New Year’s Resolutions & Cleaning!  I’m leaving you all hanging when you probably need me most.  I promise to do better.  You don’t deserve that.

So let’s talk wrapping.  It is that time of year.  Most gifts have been bought, but are sitting hiding in my guest room in their naked state.  Also stuffing the guest room to its fullest are boxes of winter clothes and boots, and empty boxes of Christmas decorations.  My main table downstairs is pushed to the side of my “dining room” to accommodate a tree in our 13′ wide home.  If you don’t get where I’m going with this, let me make it clear – I have nowhere to wrap gifts!  Forget the floor.  KP makes sure our floors don’t get cold by generously sharing her fur…all over them, pretty much at any time of year.

What I really need is a wrapping room.  A room dedicated to wrapping gifts and other crafts.  It would be heaven.  Ok, so I guess I don’t really need one.  I get my gifts wrapped fine without one every year (remember last year’s gift pile?), but it would be so much easier to have a dedicated space.

But in honor of this pipe dream, I decided to do a little Googling and see what kind of organized wrapping room eye candy popped up…

Here is a very classic looking wrapping and craft room.  It’s a pretty big room, so having spare space like this is really wishful thinking, but I love the organization and having all that room to work would be amazing.  And the woven stools, wicker baskets, and kraft paper toned board in the back bring in some nice natural tones making it feel cozier.  Love it.

wrapping-and-craft-room

This is another take on a wrapping and craft room, with a funkier twist.  What I like about this picture is it looks like they’ve taken a small hallway or space to dedicate it to wrapping.  You don’t need to have a full spare room…because honestly, who freaking does!

funky-wrapping-craft-room

One thing both rooms (and most that you’ll find out there) have in common, is an area to corral wrapping paper and ribbons on dowels.  So they are easy to roll out and use.  Here’s a shot of an organized ribbon station on crack…in a good way.

wrapping-room-ribbons

 

And here’s another picture where you could use “wrapping station” and “on crack” in the same sentence.  B & I actually saw this when it originally aired, and it blew our minds (yes, his too).  Candy Spelling let camera crews come through her $150 million dollar home as she was trying to sell it.  Her wrapping station is out of control.  And so is she.  I couldn’t find a good pic, but here’s a still of Crazy Candy in her room during the documentary:

candy-spelling-wrapping-room-still-image

Now back to reality.  I do not have space for a wrapping room.  Nor do I have time to spend my days in there, lolling around draped in ribbons.  So a wrapping room is not in my [immediate] future.  But look what $20 bucks and a trip to BBB can buy you!  Your very own wrapping STATION!  Easy to hang in a spare closet (god I wish I had one of those too), and tuck away when you don’t need it.  It’s a great solution for the realist out there.  It does look like it holds a decent amount too.  And you could switch it up at the end of the year to hold only holiday-themed items if you were pressed for space.  I’m just mad I didn’t find it until this late in the game.  Typical.

real-simple-wrapping-station

And somehow this image popped up in my Google search of “Simple Wrapping Rooms”.  I’m not sure I quite get it, but I do love me some fries and a good aioli.  It’s probably one of Google’s new tools or something.  “Slide in a picture of something you know the Googler finds delicious, it will get them excited and they’ll start Googling like crazy”.  Something like that.

oven-fries-aioli

I hope you are all enjoying your Holiday season, and finding pretty and unique ways to wrap all your presents.  And if you’re doing this in a wrapping room, I’m jealous – can I come over to drool?  I may not be back online before Christmas, so if not – Merry Merry!  See you in the New Year!  We’ve got lots to organize!

XOXO, Gossip Girl.

Or should I say GUY.  I didn’t see it, but sources tell me Dan Humphrey turned out to be GG.  What?!  Weird.  That show totally jumped the shark 2 summers ago when Serena stole a horse from the Hamptons Polo match and ran away.  That’s when B and I knew it was time to move on.

Stalling My Falling.

martha_stewart_entryway_fall_winter

Yes, Christmas is in 41 days and holiday decorations may be up already in my office, but it’s still not too late to prep your house for fall (and winter).  I stalled on my fall organization big time this year, but last weekend I got myself in gear and rearranged a few things to get ready for colder weather gear invading my first floor.  If you’re so inclined to go about it yourself, here are some things to think about as temps drop, along with some pics courtesy of Maaaahhhtha to give you an idea of what I’m babbling on about.

Boots/Shoes – with colder weather comes wetter shoes, and multiple pairs.  Personally I have a separate pair of  rain boots, winter boots, and a super old pair of Uggs that are perfect for walking KP – yes this sounds like excess but I assure you each pair has a distinctly different purpose…and they were not all purchased at the same time…they were investments over the past 6 years.  I like to put out a boot tray and an extra mat next to our front door for dripping wet shoes.  We have hardwood floors throughout our house so it also helps to keep the snow salt off their surfaces by leaving shoes at the door in fall and winter.  I also like to put out a big wicker basket to corral shoes not currently in use, since we don’t have a closet.

martha_stewart_entryway_winter_shoes

Coats – chillier temps also mean more coats.  And if you live on the east coast, we’ve had the wackiest weather over the past few years that you can’t put your lightweight coats away just yet.  Last week I was literally in a wool oat with scarf and mittens.  This week I’m sweating in a lightweight trench.  Hmm.  That seems to be a familiar look for me.   Again, since our 1800’s rowhome is missing a closet (among other quirks), we use a series of hooks to keep track of all our coats.  A coat rack could also be useful, and of course a coat closet would be downright outstanding.  But coats should always be hung up to let them air/dry out.

Scarves – these wrap around our faces and can therefore get a little germy.  I recommend hanging all scarves on hooks or a coat rack to let them air out, and if you’ve got an especially runny shnoz, dry out too.

Mittens/Gloves – another item that can get a little icky this time of year.  These should also be kept somewhere to air out.  Since a hook for mittens is most likely not practical in anyone’s home, I recommend a shallow mesh basket where you can toss these in and keep them together.  Then you won’t suffer a mitten loss, or a putting-on-wet-gloves start to your morning.  Because we all know that just sucks.

martha_stewart_entryway_winter_accessories

Umbrellas – interesting tidbit here – these should always be stored standing upright.  I never knew why, but it turns out that storing them this way protects their ribs.  (Isn’t it kind of cute to think that umbrellas have ribs?  I don’t know why, it made me laugh).   So throwing umbrellas into a basket like yours truly is probably NOT good for the ribs.   Get an umbrella stand, or a tall basket to store them in upright.  But don’t put them in there soaking wet – let them stand somewhere to dry off first before wrapping them up and tucking away.

martha_stewart_entryway_umbrellas

 

And after all that talk about winter gear, it’s only fitting that I will actually be leaving it all behind this weekend as we head down to San Juan, Puerto Rico for JB’s wedding weekend extravaganza.  This will be us:

Juuuuuust kidding.  B may be a little gangsta at times (ladies from the DA’s office back me up here), but we won’t be rolling like this down in PR.  At least not on this trip.  (And another tip that this won’t be him – he doesn’t root for the Devils).  Instead we will be trading boots and mittens for bathing suits and shorts for a  tough 3 days of pool, beach, sleeping in, and celebrating.  Can’t wait.

Puerto Rico, Ohhh!

 

 

Take Stock.

Chaptstick Stockpile

Ever see the show “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic Channel?  These people are cray cray.  We once watched a lady hollow out her bedroom door to hide fruit roll-ups and Lipton soups in there for when the apocolypse hits and she needs food.  But her husband doesn’t like her ‘prepping’ so she has to hide her items in inconspicuous places (like her bedroom door, duh) while he’s gone during the day.  Highly recommend checking out an episode or two.  It’s fascinating.

Well recently I decided I might have a little Doomsday in me, and I can’t decide how I feel about it.  Exhibit 1: picture above of my chapstick stockpile.  I am obsessed with this one kind of chapstick (The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Lip Care Stick – it’s non-scented and the absolute perfect mix of being thick enough to actually do something and have staying power, but thin enough that you don’t really notice that it’s there), and have been using it for 11 years.  That’s not a joke.  I know this because I can recall the first time I used it, and it was during college winter break in 2001 when I was visiting my best friend L at her grandparent’s house in Florida and her mom was using it (also a chapstick connoissuer) and I had to borrow it because I had sunburnt lips.  It used to be 2 sticks for $3.  I’m not even going to tell you what I pay for it now because it’s crazytown and embarrassing.  But I HAVE to have my chapstick with me.  I’m one of those people.  You should have heard me a few weeks ago at AC’s wedding, I had forgotten my chapstick and was freaking out.  MKY even snapped at me to chill out once (maybe twice) which doesn’t usually happen unless I’m being particularly annoying.

Why am I telling you this?  Good question.  I recently ran out of the stash B got me for Christmas (5 sticks didn’t get me that far!), and decided that rather than running out at lunch and buying the usual 2 to hold me over for a month or so, I was going to seriously stock up.  I’d never bought them online but I thought I’d give it a try – well, jackpot find on my part.  The Body Shop has all these discounts only available online!  Like a buy one get one half off, a three for price of two AND free shipping over $50 (I told you, it’s embarrassing how much I pay for these chapsticks).  I started adding some to my cart and doing the math on the side and discovered I could get 9 chapsticks for the price of 6 and get free shipping.  Score.  I didn’t have to even leave my seat AND I got them for less than what I would normally pay.  Success!

So the moral of this story is that stockpiling sometimes has it’s advantages.  And just because you have 9 chapsticks in your nightstand drawer (which you may have noticed in the shot above is still nicely organized with my DIY drawer dividers) doesn’t mean you’re in the same category with the Doomsers (although B will probably disagree).  So General Rule of Thumb: if it saves you time and/or money to buy in bulk and stock up AND you have the space for the items, go ahead and take stock.  If your loot is going to clutter your home or completely take over your drawers/closets/rooms, then it may not be worth it.  Always think before you stock.

PS – you can catch a glimpse of our new duvet cover in the shot above.  Still not sure how I feel about it.  It’s close to the one I was coveting here, but a little darker and busier.  I’m thinking of ways to chill it out a bit.  I’ll let you know what I come up with.

PPS – those squishy blue things in the shot above are ear plugs.  B snores like he’s sawing logs.

Goal Post.

April Goals

With March coming to an end tomorrow, it’s time to set some goals for the month of April.  I took some time this week to write mine down in my beloved planner.  April showers bring May flowers, so we’re possibly looking at the most “fruitful” benefits to be reaped from this month’s goals!  As you can see in the close up of mine below, I’m really hoping to put our home projects to bed (no pun intended), switch over clothes for spring, and up the ante on my training for the 2012 Broad Street Run.  I took a hiatus from racing while pregnant last year, so this year’s BSR will be big for me.  I don’t think I’ll best 2008’s 1:15, but I’m hoping for sub-1:25.  Not quite there yet but we’re working on it.  Anyone have any good goals for April to share?  What about BSR goals?  Happy almost April!

April Goals Close Up