Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Quick Fix to a Disorganized Linen Closet

There are numerous places in a home I enjoy organizing, kitchens, offices, closets, drawers, basements, storage, I mean, the list goes on and on. One space that seems to challenge me every time is the linen closet. I don't know why, but I just really struggle with "loving" this space, no matter how organized it is. 
I thought this was all because our old linen closet in our apartment was such a strange space and doubled/tripled as a space for exercise gear, travel supplies, and other random things we didn't have the storage for. However, in our current home we seriously have one dynamite linen closet. It's huge! The shelves are deep and spacious. It has double doors making it super easy to get into. 
So why do I struggle so much with this space? Because sheets, towels and extra toiletries are difficult to make look pretty, to put it as simply as I can. Folded towels look perfect and beautiful when they're folded and stacked nicely in a closet. But once you grab a new one the look is lost, and every time laundry is done you have to make sure you can commit the time and dedication to folding and stacking everything perfectly again.
{lack of commitment}
Don't get me wrong, I used to do this. I used to have this time. This dedication. But somewhere between having a baby and figuring out when I last showered, I lost it. So, I needed to find a new system that worked for me, and it was accomplished by adding just one thing.  
Baskets, bins, boxes, and any other cubed shaped object that starts with the letter "B" is my new best friend in the linen closet
Everything is contained. Everything is organized. And you can't tell how well I've folded a sheet, or if I've even folded it at all! 
The other great thing about the baskets is they prevent us from owning more than we need. I have mentioned this before and it still holds true. Even with way more storage space than we need, we still have managed to own only two sets of sheets for our bed and two sets of towels each. And honestly, we've never been in a position to need more. 
I used gift tags from the Dollar Spot at Target as labels for all of our baskets. And because my handwriting is typically atrocious, I just used a label maker with clear background to identify each basket. 
The bottom shelf is dedicated to our carry-on travel bags for quick and easy access when packing. The middle four baskets contain bath towels, extra sheet sets, guest towels, and extra guest pillows.
The next shelf is dedicated to travel needs, as well as one basket for "healing", which has our hot water bottles, massagers, heating pads, and the like. 
The clear drawers are full of travel toiletries that we are slowly running through {seriously, I tossed numerous half empty bottles about a year ago yet somehow we continue to have an insane supply}. Also we keep all of our "apparel first aid" in the large bottom drawer {i.e. small steamer, buttons, needle and thread, etc.}
The two baskets on the top shelf are our laundry baskets, and in all honesty, are rarely both stored there. Since we're constantly doing laundry in our house, at least one of these baskets is rotating in and out at a time. The center basket is just our emergency TP, when we forget to restock in the bathroom and the long trip to the basement supply is just out of the question. 
On the tippy, tippy top are extra duvets and blankets for guests. And that's it! 
The linen closet still isn't my favorite space to organize, but I'll be honest, I am a pretty big fan of how this space looks now. I love that I can toss clean towels into a basket without worrying how nicely they're folded. I love the clean look the baskets provide, and the little pop of color the labels bring. The large space is filled nicely with the baskets and it doesn't seem as daunting. 

What are your tricks to keep your linen closet looking organized? 

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Child Safety Passenger Week

This post is brought to you by Britax and Fairfield County Moms Blog. All opinions are my own, including the opinion that this post contains pictures of the coolest little dude in the world. 

Question: Who here knew there was a Child Safety Passenger week? I mean, I'm sure we all knew that September is National Honey Month and National Consideration Month, but who can honestly say you were aware there is an entire week in September dedicated to children riding safely in cars? Well, now you know and hopefully I can provide you with a bit more information. 
To recognize Child Safety Passenger week, which is September 18-24 this year, Britax partnered with Fairfield County Moms Blog and hosted a Blogger Party in my area. I am lucky enough to have developed a friendship with the host, through the Body Back class I blogged for in the spring, and snagged an invite to this event. 
{no I don't always look so awkward and nervous, just in front of people}
So I got to go to a party, but that's not what this post is about, I swear I get invited to parties, like, all the time. At the party, Britax educated us on car seat safety tips and introduced us to their new car seat, the Advocate ClickTight ARB.

While LBJ already has a car seat that we are perfectly happy with, after the presentation and installing the Advocate myself I'm actually really excited to start using this new car seat! It's so easy to install, and almost foolproof. 

Installing the car seat: 
First off, did you know that 75% of car seats are NOT installed correctly!? So you look at the parking lot at a playground, and 3 in every 4 cars has a car seat installed incorrectly{NOTE: most local fire departments offer free car seat inspection! Check here to find one in your area}

There are two ways to install a car seat, either using the seatbelt or the LATCH system. In my opinion, the LATCH system can be really confusing as far as when it's safe and unsafe to use it. The Advocate makes car seat installation super, duper simple by encouraging the use of the seatbelt rather than LATCH system, and making sure that the seat belt method is incredibly safe.
Not my baby, still a cute baby, but not my baby. 
Since LBJ is still in a rear-facing seat, that's the type of installation I am going to share.  

Step 1: Recline the seat
Recline the car seat to the recommended position for the height/weight of your child. 
This is simply done by lifting up on a handle in the front of the car seat. 

Step 2: Open ClickTight Plate {the seat}
To do this, you simply press down on the ClickTight knob, then turn. There is even an arrow to indicate which way to turn the knob. 

It does take a little bit of strength to turn, which is a good thing considering it was the very first thing LBJ wanted to play with then I set him in the seat. 
Here's a better photo of what I mean by opening the seat.

Step 3: Thread the belt
Once the seat is raised, you will be able to see two openings where the belt can be laced through. 
He was such a great helper. When he wasn't crawling all over me, he was crawling all over the car seat I was trying to take pictures of. 
Some sites say not to pull the seat belt to a locked position before threading and buckling it in. However, I choose to pull the belt until it locks. With the belt in a locked position, it has been reported that it makes it more difficult for the seat to be lowered and locked back into place. This may be the case, but I'd rather have the seatbelt locked and use a little more muscle now, than deal with James yanking on the belt while I'm driving {I doubt he could reach it, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time}.
Step 4: Lower and lock the seat
By placing two hands on either side of the car seat, press down {hard} to position the seat back in place. I actually needed to stand somewhat inside the car in order to get the seat to lock into place. 
You will hear the seat "click" into place and that's it! You will know the seat is firmly in place if you are able to move it less than one inch side to side. 

Something else that many parents struggle with is correctly buckling their child into the seat. Here are four tips to remember when buckling you child. 

  1. The chest clip should be at armpit level. 
  2. You should not be able to pinch a horizontal fold at the child's collarbone. 
  3. You should not be able to see any slack in the straps. 
  4. The straps should be snug at the hips. 

With the Advocate, when tightening the harness {by pulling on that tether LBJ is holding} it will click when the harness is within the appropriate range of "snugness". Therefore, parents you will not have to worry if your child is strapped in too tightly or not tightly enough. For those without this car seat, you should be able to slide one finger under the strap after the harness is tightened to ensure it is not too tight. 

Child Reminders
For some parents, this may seem silly, but for others this is a reality. My mantra, never say never, and therefore, never judge. Obviously, I hope to never leave my child in the car, but I have heard all about the difficult circumstances that have led to other parents doing this, either intentionally or not. Therefore, I simply try to play it safe. Here are some tips for ensuring you don't forget your little one in the back

  • Stow your purse or bag in the back seat with them
  • Take off your left shoe and place it in the back seat
  • Place a large stuffed animal in the car seat, move it to the front when the child is buckled in. Seeing it in the front should remind you to grab your child when exiting.
  • If you use Waze for directions, Waze will send you a reminder to get your child when you arrive at your destination.
I find that installing this mirror is super helpful. Not only in making sure I remember my child, but I can also keep an eye on him during travel. 
If you're in the market for a new car seat, I encourage you to check out the Advocate. Not only does Britax prioritize safety, they are also amazing at designing incredibly simple products for parents to use. Here are just a few more safety features of this car seat that I didn't specifically mention. 
Britax is currently having an All About Safety Event where they are offering sales until the end of September. So if you know anyone in the market for child gear, send them this link

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, September 12, 2016

CEO Mommy: Round Wooden Serving Tray

Trying to play a little catch up with the CEO Mommy class, hence the back-to-back posts. In August's class was the first time I actually remembered to take photos during the class {thank you Cara for reminding me}. I'm so excited to share what the class looks like in action. August's class was dedicated to creating our very own round serving tray. 
Here are the supplies you will need: 
Step 1: Apply a base coat to the tray
I spray painted everyone's tray with white primer before the class because the wood has grain and dark spots that can show through the painted design. Adding the primer prevents needing to paint numerous coats to cover any dark areas your wood may have. 
And as always, safety first when spray-painting {especially if you're spray painting numerous items}.

Step 2: Mark the dill holes
You will notice in my pictures that I painted my tray before drilling, bad idea. The wood is likely to chip a little bit when drilling. Not such a big deal if you're about to paint over it, but if it's already been designed it can really mess up your tray. 
An easy way to mark drill holes is to use an ink pad. Measuring the exact spot can be difficult, at least for me, so using the ink pad really helps prevent drilling in the wrong place. 
Simply pay the handle onto the ink pad, then press it onto the tray where you'd like the handle to be.

Step 3: Drill the holes
Don't worry about the ink showing on the board. Not only are you about to paint over it, but the handles will also cover where the marked holes will be. So now you want to drill right where the marked holes are.
Place the tray off the side of a table or bench, as you will be drilling all the way through the wood. Although in this image the tray appears to be laying flat on a surface, it is actually elevated with our wood floors about three feet below.

Step 4: Prepare to paint
The way you go about this depends on what design you would like to make. For my red and white striped tray, I simply taped off stripes every few inches using painter's tape. Then painted the exposed area red. Don't forget to paint the sides! 
Once the tape was removed, I had perfect red and white stripes to make a nautical tray.
For other designs, such as the lemon, I added an additional coat of white paint to the base. I cut out three large rectangular shapes then traced them with pencil onto my tray. I mixed yellow paint with a small amount of white to create a lighter shade, and then painted the traced rectangles. Next, paint the sides using unmixed yellow paint. 
I did not prime this tray before painting the design, if you look on the top you can see darker shades under the color. 
For the watermelon, I painted the side green, using a mix of green with white paint. Then painted the entire center a melon color. This was created by mixing red with white and a little pink actually. Then, with a small brush, add black marks for the seeds. 
Step 5: Finishing Touches
It's not expected that every paint project will go perfectly, which is why I own paint pens in just about every color. I used these pens to cover small errors and where I painted outside the lines. 
Spray a coat of Polycrylic finisher on the tray once you are done painting. This will protect the wood. 
Then you can attach the handles using the 1-1/8in screws. The screws that come with the handles are either too long or too short to use with this wood, unfortunately. 

Lastly, a couple optional finishes you can add. Either add small felt pads to the bottom of the tray to place over the screws. This will prevent the screws from scratching up any surface and allow the tray to slide nicely on tabletops and counters, OR you can add a Lazy Susan attachment! Now you have a custom made, turning tray, that is also turning heads! :) 
Check out these mommas creating some amazing trays!

My favorite part about this class was how different everyone's projects were. What design would you create for your serving tray? 
Want to join in on the fun? Join the CEO Mommy Facebook group to sign up for the next class and check out what fun projects we're creating! 
Check out what we've created in previous classes here

Thanks for visiting!