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.

An Explanation.

For why I was MIA last week.  I think that’s only the second time this year I’ve left you hanging without words of neat-dom.  Not too bad, but not what I set out to do when I created this little bloggo almost a year ago.  Yep, KIN is almost ONE!  Just add ‘plan a bday party for my blog’ to the list I guess.

So anyway, things here are busy.  Not more than anyone else, I’m sure, but pretty darn busy.  And the picture below represents just how busy.  I give you, “Failed Africa Cake”.

Holiday-Potluck-WorldTheme-Africa-Cake

Allow me to explain.  Work is busy.  Home is busy.  It’s the holidays.  We have parties on top of parties, and to-do’s on top of to-do’s.  Last Thursday was the holiday party at both A’s school (annual potluck), and at my office (literally it’s in the office).  A’s holiday party ‘theme’ was Around the World, and her classroom was assigned Africa.  Not knowing what to make, and her being too young to turn this into a geography and/or anthropology lesson, I copped out and decided to make a cake, and decorate it with the map of Africa.  Don’t judge me.

Well I went to make said cake at about 9:30 on Wednesday night and noticed we were out of butter.  Great.  A quick google search (on my new phone), taught me that you could sub in applesauce.  Eh.  Worth a try though.  Cake went happily into the oven, I went happily into the shower, but A was not so happy upstairs in her crib and decided to let us know.  So B went up, leaving Africa cake to get a little toasty in the oven…for fifteen minutes too long.  Screw up #2 of the night.  When the cake cooled and I tried to move it, it fell apart in a few area, requiring glue by icing in multiple spots.  But, it did turn out looking pretty good, and it didn’t taste too bad, considering it had no butter…

Let’s move on to Thursday.  All day meetings required me to be out in West Chester (an hour west of Philly on a good day) and leave earlier than daycare would take A.  So while I battled the long ride out there B walked her to daycare…and forgot her shoes.  Unbeknownst to me of course until later that day.  I left straight from WC, Africa cake in the backseat, and went straight to daycare.  Mind you it was had been freezing out so now the cake had been frozen, then thawed.  This was really the cake that wouldn’t die.  I arrived at daycare, cake in hand, ready to clean A up to take her over to my office.  Only I noticed she had no shoes.  It never ends.

Luckily they found some extra shoes in the lost & found, and although they were clearly little boy shoes, they actually looked pretty cute.  So then we headed over to my office to meet up with B, cram some food down our throats (no alcohol though since apparently you can’t have a drink if you bring your kid…), take a pic with Santa (while A cried the whole time), and show A my office.  Which was apparently the highlight of the night:

A at work

Just look at those pudgy little fingers on the keyboard.  Kills me.

So moral of the story is I’ve been busy and have NOT been keeping things neat around my abode, or life for that matter!  But at least I’m keeping it real here on the blog for ya.  Nothing to hide – failed Africa cake story told to the public? Check. “Child Labor” photo shared with the interwebs? Check.

We did do some decorating over the weekend so I can share those pics soon.  I do have some answers to Holiday Q’s that I’ve gotten recently.  And remember you can ask any Q’s that you have here!

Clip Tip.

Tip to keep wrapping paper from unraveling using paper clips

A few years ago I was really tired of my wrapping paper rolls unraveling when I stored them away.  They would take up extra space and look messy, and the unraveled section would crinkle and sometimes tear.  (Yes, we’ve established I’m nuts.)  Taping the loose edge down was an OK solution, but that would rip up some of the paper each time you went to use the roll again.  Really annoying.  So I came up with the idea in the picture above.  Tightly re-wrap the paper around its roll and fasten both edges with a large paper clip.  That’s it.  A cheap and easy DIY solution for a problem you probably never knew you had!

Season’s Partings.

We spent some time last weekend taking down all of our Christmas decorations.  While it’s certainly sad to lose all that cheerful décor, it’s really nice to get some space back in our living room.  Especially since I refuse to let B put my enormous jogging stroller anywhere else.  He clearly doesn’t get its motivational presence.

Living in a small Philadelphia row home that is over 150 years old, we have basically no storage.  The only closets we have are in bedrooms, and those were only created in the ’80’s when the house was re-habbed.  We do, however, have a fairly large attic and we fully leverage this space to store things like sporting equipment, luggage, off-season clothing, and infrequently used kitchen appliances (ice cream maker, anyone?).  I store most stuff in clear plastic storage bins or in a box with a large white label so I can easily find what I’m looking for.  Our 3+ boxes of holiday decorations and wrapping supplies are no exception.  I try to keep my holiday stuff as organized as possible, because you really only pull it out once a year which makes it too easy to forget what you have, where you put it, how you used it last year, etc.

For tree decorations, I highly recommend using boxes made specifically for storing ornaments; they really are the best at keeping delicate ornaments from breaking.  I also save tissue paper from gifts each year, cut it into quarters, and use it to individually wrap ornaments before putting them in the box.  Any extra tissue can be used as padding for smaller ornaments.  The boxes we use have cardboard dividers that can easily be removed and folded flat so you can store other things in there as well.

I’m also a big fan of our Christmas light organizer, pictured above.  Yes, it stores your lights nicely and neatly, but the main reason I’m into it is that it makes it so much easier to string your lights up in the following year.  Planning in advance for anything is my forte, so this fits right in!  You don’t have to worry about crumpled up wires or knots to undo; all you do is unwind the lights and string them around the tree.  And even B, who has a fairly low tolerance for most of my neat-nick antics (except, evidently, when it comes to keeping jogging strollers in the middle of the house), loves this organizer.  He’s actually the one who told me to blog about it because he thinks it’s so handy.

The last holiday tip I have is to think about how you are storing things, and what you can do now to make decorating easier next year.  Are there certain things you like to display together, or earlier in the season?  For example, I have faux pine needles, pine cones, holly berries, and mini presents that I display on my mantel every year.  I make sure to store these things together at the top of a box where they are easily accessible, because I usually decorate the mantel before we’ve gotten our tree, or at least before it’s ready for its trimmings.  Holiday season is busy enough; you will be happy early next December if you did some of this planning now.  After all, at the time of this post, there are only 347 days, 3 hours, 49 minutes, and 47 seconds until Christmas 2012!