Weekend of Organization

This week we decided to buy our older son a bigger desk and give his old desk to our younger son. For some reason this decision unleashed an organizational beast inside of me. I thought I was only going to go through the boys school and crafts supplies to see what we could reduce. Well, not only did I do that, but I also organized our pantry, kitchen drawers, playroom, our youngest’s closet, and my side of the master closet.  I was proud of myself, because these burst of organization usually result in the purchases of new bins and drawers, etc. I only bought some baskets (that were 50% off at Hobby Lobby) and some of the fabric cubes. I repurposed a lot of our old stuff, putting it in other places.

One long sought-after accomplishment was organizing all the recipes from magazines I had cut out over the years. I got rid of a lot of recipes. I went in with a realistic mindset, and only kept the ones that I thought our family would enjoy and were not too complicated to make.  By the time my organizing rampage was over, I accumulated 10 bags/boxes to consign, 2 bags to give away, and 4 trash bags. I normally do go through things routinely, but this was out of the ordinary. It was almost like an out-of-body experience!

I wish I had taken “before” pictures. I didn’t realize I was going to blog about this, so apologies. Here are the end results of this weekend’s labor:

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I bought all those baskets for under $50. It really helped with making more space and hiding all those loose small items. It’s not shown in the picture, but this freed up half a shelf on the bottom!

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This kitchen drawer was a hot mess. It’s not as organized I was wanted, but it is better.

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My new recipe binder! The only thing I have left to do is add dividers. I organized them, by drinks, appetizer, sides, pasta, seafood, chicken, pork, beef and desserts.

We have a nice big bonus room upstairs. Until now it has been solely a playroom. WIth the boys getting older and my younger one preferring to play in his room, I decided to make it a den. I consolidated the playroom to one half of the room. I hope this will encourage my younger one to play more upstairs. We got rid of ALOT of unused toys.

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Playroom side

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Den side (our next step is to get posters of our favorite bands).

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This is the guest bedroom closet. I re-used the Ikea book shelve (that we have had for 12 years and 5 moves). I was able to put the inflatable beds on the top shelve and moved the towels there. Also, give guests another place to put personal items. Moving the inflatable beds to the top shelf opened up a lot of space.

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This our younger son’s closet. I re-used the second Ikea bookshelf here. Before he had plastic drawers that were to the playroom. This looks better because it opens up some space, and I was able to put a lot of space-taking items on the floor. Extra space for books is also good, since we have so many of them.

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The boys’ new home offices. The first picture is my older son’s. We found this desk at Staples. It works perfect for his needs and for his room. The second picture is my younger son’s desk (that used to be his big brother’s). We put it in the kitchen, because it didn’t fit in his room. Both boys have been enjoying their respective new spaces this weekend.

I can sufficiently say that I will not be organizing for a while. It is just a great feeling though! Do you ever get bitten by the organizational bug? If yes, what area in your home do you usually re-organize the most? I find myself organizing the boy’s room and playroom the most.

Hope you all have a great week! Those on the East Coast stay warm during this cold snap we are going to have. xoxo

 

Holiday Traditions

My 4th grader recently had a homework assignment prompting him to write about his family holiday traditions. This inspired me to write about our family’s Christmas traditions on this blog. None of them are super unique or even that spectacular, but they are what makes this time special for us.

The weekend after Thanksgiving we decorate the house, buy and put our tree up. My hubby and I always set-up the tree, launching our annual “putting the tree in the stand” argument. Even though every year I make a promise with myself that I will be patient and not fight, it always ends up happening. In the end it’s worth it. Nothing beats the smell that a fresh live Christmas tree brings to the house.

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I also load up all the fabulous Christmas CD mixes my BFF makes in the car.  She makes a new one every other year. The kids and I have fun all season long singing along. The first Christmas song I traditionally listen to every year is:

I can seriously write a whole blog post on the awesomeness of this video!

My husband and I take time sometime during that weekend to watch “Love Actually” after the kids have gone to bed. We enjoy watching it with a hot cup of gluwhein (A mulled wine that is traditionally drank in Germany during Christmastime. We drank it while we shopped at the Christmas Markets).

On December 6th we celebrate St. Nicholas feast day. The boys leave their shoes out the night before and in the morning they are filled with goodies. That night I make a German meal.

The week before Christmas, we drive around and out and look at Christmas lights around our neighborhood. We also try to attend local holiday events in our town. Nothing is better than a hometown Christmas parade.

We have our big celebration on Christmas Eve. That is what I did growing up and thankfully my hubby was ok with making it our family tradition. My parents normally visit us during this time. We sometimes have friends and their families over as well. We normally go to the Children’s Mass, which is in the late afternoon. Afterwards we have our Christmas dinner. The dinner itself has consisted of many things over the years. I have cooked Italian, Salvadoran, Spanish, and American. I like it to be different every year. This year, we are leaning towards surf and turf. After dinner, we open family gifts.

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We then watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” while enjoying dessert.

Before we put the boys to bed, we sprinkle reindeer food on our front yard and put out Santa’s treat. We have started to leave him whatever we had for dessert. We figure having cookies a billion times in one night can get old. Last year, he had Guinness chocolate cake and the year before flan.  My hubby then reads them T’was the Night Before Christmas. Once they  are dreaming of vision of sugar plums, Santa’s elves go to work (powered by festive libations, of course). Our Santa does not wrap; all the toys are ready for play. SO whatever their presents are, they must be in working order and have batteries in the morning. A few years it has been a breeze, but the Playmobil Christmas year was really a pain, especially once the said libations kicked in!  The year Santa brought the life-like cardboard bricks was also hard. I was surprised all 60 of them fit in such a small box. Silly me! They had to be put together!!!

Christmas morning is very low-key in our household. We have a nice light breakfast and we really just watch the kids play with their presents. We also don’t travel on this day, no matter what. That is the only rule my hubby has during the holidays. During his childhood they did a lot of traveling on Christmas Day. He hated that he didn’t get a chance to really enjoy his presents that morning. He doesn’t want our boys to have to go through that frustration. We spend the rest of the day eating leftovers and hanging out. If my parents are visiting, my hubby and I sometimes sneak out to the movies. Some years we have gone to friends houses for lunch and dinner.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this year we will be surrounded by a lot of friends and family that we normally don’t see during this time of year. I am so excited for all the new memories and possibly new traditions that we will make this year.

What are your favorite Holiday family traditions?

How To Set A Table

I decided this year to make an extra effort to have a nice table set up for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, when it came to setting the utensils and glasses I was completely clueless. I tried to mentally visualize all the countless formal dinners and weddings I have attended, but the image wouldn’t come to me. I broke down and did a google search and found this fabulous site that explains how to set a table in an easy fuss free way. Click here to check it out.

This was my end result. I tweaked it a bit since we won’t be having soup and some of the place setting are children’s. Here are my adult setting and my younger child setting.

The water-glass you see on the left is part of the adult setting and no I will not be serving the children wine in their little wine goblets. They will be having sparkling apple cider.

I hope this helps anyone that needs a little guidance like I did. I wish you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I hope it is filled with good company, good food and laughter.  xoxo

Happy October!

I love October, and Halloween has a lot to do with it.  It’s not just the actual day, but the whole time leading up to it.  Ever since I was little, I just loved this time of year for it’s cooling temperature, the crispness in the air that, and of course all the fun fall activities (pumpkins patches, apple picking, fall festivals). The spooky atmosphere that also comes with time of year is something I have always loved. I anticipate any new scary movie (not the gore movies that have come to be labeled scary), and love watching classic horror films as they increase in TV broadcasts during this time. Nothing is better than curling up on a chilly night and watching the original Halloween.

This year I brought out the Halloween decoration out a week early. We had a few days of chillier weather and it just put me in the mood. Thought I would share them with you.

Welcome to our home.

The spooky votive tree I got a few years back at Pier 1. The haunted house lantern I got 75% off at Target last year. You can’t pass that up…right?

He is a new addition this year. I found him (on sale) at Kirkland Homes. He sits on our entryway table.

I got the cut-out bats from a craft store. I think they are from the Martha Stewart Home line. I display some Halloween pictures on our mantle every year. I am sure this will cause embarrassment to the boys when they are older. The middle picture features the boys in their costumes from last year, and then I have one of each boy in my favorite costumes. My older son’s picture displays him as a 2 year-old Harry Potter. My younger son’s picture has him as a 1 year-old baby Hulk.

I am a sucker for nutcrackers. You should see my Christmas collection. They sell these at Target. I got Mummy and Frank a few years ago. Bride of Frank and Skeleton were also purchased at the Target 75% sale last year. I think there is room for 2 more!

At 75% off you can’t just buy one! The “Goodies Given Here” sign was given to me by my BFF.

A friend of mine made me this sign. I love it! More importantly it makes me think of her and her lovely family.

I wish you all a hauntingly happy October! Do any of you have fun family traditions you do this time of year? Are there any scary movies you have to see this time of year? Have a great week! xoxo

PS: There is a new monster nutcracker on the block. Thanks to my hubby for picking him up yesterday.

Fall Is Here….

 

….well at least in our home.

I don’t care if it is 100 degrees, but our fall home decor comes out on September 1st. This is my favorite time of year. I love the smell of fall ( you all know what I am talking about), that  lingers in the late summer mornings. It makes you realize that football, sweaters, apple cider, pumpkin anything and heartier meals are just around the corner.

I don’t decorate the outside of the house until October 1st. It’s just too hot for the pumpkins and I like my pumpkins to last until the Christmas decor comes out. I also take that time to put out the indoor and outdoor Halloween decorations.

I decorate discreetly. When you come into my house, fall is not in your face.  I try to just accent the season in the common areas of our home.  Here is a peek at the decor inside my house.

The only faux plants I buy are from Pier1 Imports. I love the quality and look. They really hold up in storage. I change the flowers in the vase with the season. I believe I got the faux leaves at Walmart. It’s from their Better Homes and Garden decor line. The bamboo vase is from Pier 1 Imports.

This vase is a recent addition. I was happy to find a bigger bamboo vase that matched the one above. I found this one at Home Goods. The flowers are also from Pier 1 Imports.


I use my mantle to accent seasonal decor. I got the lovely straw pumpkins at TJ Maxx last year. The pumpkins and leaves in the vases are also from Walmart’s Better Homes and Garden. The rest is from Pier 1. Once October rolls around I add some spooky Halloween accents.

Changing the candles around your house to the colors of Fall,  is also a quick and easy way to accent the season. I got these candles from Pier 1 Imports.

The leaves in the white pitcher have always been used as a centerpiece to the kitchen table. Just a nice pop of fall.


This looks better in the person. It’s the centerpiece of our coffee table. I love using the faux pumpkins and leaves to add little accents. The glass bowl is a darker than the picture portrays. The rings on the bowl are the colors of the pumpkins and leaves. They complement each other very well.

Check back again in October and I’ll show you our Halloween (my favorite holiday) decor.

What are some of your favorite fall decor accents?

Have a great Monday everyone! xoxo

 

Pete the Cat the Grooviest Feline Around

For our 10 year wedding anniversary a couple years ago, my husband and I took a kid free trip to New Orleans.  We stayed in the French Quarter near Jackson Square. On our walk to and from our hotel we would pass by the Robin’s Gallery in the window they had these vibrant colorful paintings of a blue cat. They also had some really cool looking kids books about this so-called Pete the Cat.

Unfortunately, the day we set aside to pop in and look around and buy a kids book for our youngest son, they were closed. When we came home I frantically searched the internet to find out more about this feline named Pete.

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An artist named James Dean saved a black cat from the shelter. He named him Pete. He would sit on his lap while he painted. He sometimes drank James’ coffee when he wasn’t looking.  His first sketch of Pete was him drinking coffee. He decided to paint him blue, because he thought black was bad luck. If you click here you can explore all the Pete the Cat art. We have two Pete print’s in our home. My favorite are Pete with the masters series.

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We really got to know Pete through his children’s books. James Dean collaborated with writer Eric Litwin and the Pete the Cat books were born. My little guy just loves Pete the Cat. He has all 3 books mesmerized. What is great is that they are so interactive,colorful and fun. Pete also has such a great out look on life. Whatever happens to him he just, “Keeps walking along singing his song, because it is all good!” The books are geared toward more of the younger ages I would say 2-6. Click here to get a copy of your own. Now that school is coming back in session I highly recommend this one.

 

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Here are some fun sing along Pete songs that you can jam around the house with your kids or even by yourself I won’t judge. I hope you all enjoy  your Wednesday! xoxo

A Movie, A Book and A Smoothie….

During the summertime, our TV viewing is cut down dramatically due to the summer hiatus of most of our weekly network shows. We take this time to catch up on our movie viewing. Last night we watched Friends with Kids. 

It is produced, written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt. She is best remembered for the movie Kissing Jessica Stein, and she is also John Hamm’s (swoon) girlfriend. The cast is one of the best ensemble seen all year. Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott are the leads. It has four Bridemaid’s alums, Kristen Wigg, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd (the sexy Irish Cop) and John Hamm (swoon).  Edward Burns and Megan Fox round out the rest of the cast.

The writing is funny and witty. It also takes a frank look at how life does change when you have children. As a parent of young kids I could totally relate to a lot of the dialogue. I really enjoyed how all the characters played off one another. This is the first time I have seen Adam Scott in a lead role and I think he was great! He and Jessica Westfeldt had very good chemistry. Maya Rudolph is a comic genius! Can that women do anything wrong? John Hamm (swoon) has one pretty great scene. Can that man do anything wrong?

The set decor was AMAZING! I loved, loved, loved looking at the interior design of all the characters home. I fell in love with this wall abacus. I believe it is from CB2, but they are currently not selling it. Wouldn’t it look great in a play room or home office?

Here is an Entertainment Weekly behind the scenes article about movie from March. If you see this movie in the Red Box this weekend get it. You will be in for a treat!

What are some good movies on DVD you have seen lately?

The book I finished this week was Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein. I picked this book up at the library a couple weeks ago. I was looking for the latest Jennifer Weiner book, when I stumbled upon a pink covered book. Honestly, the cover made me pick it up. It is so pretty!

 I didn’t know who Wendy Wasserstein was until I read the jacket cover. She is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning playwright. This was her first and unfortunately last novel. She died from lymphoma shortly before the book’s release. Elements of Style is a social comedy about the lives of the NYC social elite in a post 9/11 world. I thought the characters in the book were great. I definitely grew to love some of then and dislike one in particular. The characters experience some highs and with that of course comes the inevitable lows.  The descriptions of their houses and parties are really well done. Click here for the goodreads summary.  This book is perfect for the pool or beach!

What are some good books you all have read this summer?

I made a new smoothie this morning chocolate banana with chia seeds. From now on I am going to drink it after a hard work out. The additional protien in the chia seeds would be great for muscle recovery. This is the first time I have eaten chia seeds. It gave the smoothie a nice crunch. Here are some of the benefits of consuming chia seeds. I am not jumping on any bandwagon. I am going to consume the package I bought and then make my own conclusion. I will let you know if I see or feel any difference in my body.

This is how I made my smoothie: 1) Added 10-12 cubes of ice in blender, 2) Scoop of chocolate protein in blender, 3) Added banana pieces in blender, 4) Added tablespoon of chia seeds, 5) Added 1/2 cup of water BLEND and ENJOY!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!! xoxo