toy storage

Is it me or are children's toys out of control?

I mean, Penelope has so many toys. I sometimes wonder how it's possible that she has so many toys to play with and often think that surely she doesn't play with all of them. Without fail, as soon as I begin thinking this, she finds a buried treasure in the bottom of a basket and plays intently with a toy that I haven't seen in months. To her credit, she plays with all of them. Which also makes it tough to sneak toys out and away to tidy up.

As part of my apartment optimization, one of my goals is to streamline and implement some better organization for Penelope's toys. This is just one of the many apartment posts I plan to bring you and I hope that you'll weigh in in the comments. Today I'm including some before photos in hopes that I'll have some great after photos for you in the coming weeks. And to ask you for some organizational suggestions! Please note: this is some serious keepin' it real for you. We live in an apartment {though a nice size one by city standards} in Jersey City and so small spaces have become a challenge for the 3 of us. My apartment is often a disaster, so please don't judge! But also please send helpful suggestions :)

Let's start with Penelope's room. 

penelope toy org1

This is how we store toys in her bedroom. Please ignore the quality of these photos. I had to take them at night while P was clamoring to play with everything. We bought this storage cubby system from Target so many years ago and it makes for a really great and ample storage space.

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It's a challenge to keep these organized within the bins, but at least it's enclosed which equals out of sight out of mind.

On top, for now, I keep some of her books and bigger toys that don't fit in the bins.

penelope toy org2

I recently cleaned out her art supply bin and moved it all to a bigger basket. I threw out random worn down crayons and markers that didn't work. I also gave the boot to coloring books that were mostly filled in and semi-destroyed from use. So much better. Also, our favorite items are the color wonder crayola markers + coloring books. Pure genius I tell ya.

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Next to the cubbies sits her tall dresser. I've been considering moving this to another wall, but for now it's there. On top? ALL of the stuffed animals {plus her photo board from her first birthday party that I can't seem to part with}. I know, it's frightening. She has so many special stuff animals like limited edition Sesame Street plush and a Paddington Bear and Harrods teddy straight from London. Not to mention her Mickeys and Minnies and Frozen dolls. I want to keep these on display but there has to be a better way. Any suggestions?!

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Moving down into the living room, we get into a real doozy. Yikes!

This is what it often looks like in P's toy corner. No, I did not take the time to tidy up this space for the sake of this photo. Sorry, it's a mess, but it's real. HELP! How do I organize this? I'm thinking a small book case. It is in the living room, so I'm trying to avoid anything that's too bright or pastelly or too 'kid' looking. So many bulky toys, and yet so many toys with small pieces. I'll keep you posted, but open to suggestions.

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On the right side of this mess is our media stand with TV. I didn't photograph it, but it has 2 cabinets, one of which holds her puzzles. On the other side of the unit, I keep another basket of books. This gets messy pretty quickly, but I like having some books visible and easily accessible to her at all times. 

So that covers most of her stuff. Not pictured is a giant bean bag, also filled with stuffed animals in her bedroom, along with a basketball hoop. And in the living room, another wall with her ride on toys and rocking horse.

So there you have it. Some organization that works {like her bedroom cubbies} and some that misses the mark. 

How do you organize your kids toys? Any suggestions for cubbies, bookcases, bins or the like?

also: a peek inside P's closet

Family CAO

Last week, Shaun and I were discussing all of the random tasks that we had on our lists to accomplish, like rolling over my 403(b) account, getting Penelope's birth certificate sorted out (they printed my name incorrectly on it) and a host of other administrative situations to take care of. Shaun mentioned that every family needs an administrative officer just to keep all of these things straight! I couldn't agree more. In fact, I think every family should have a Chief Administrative Officer. With both of us back to work and now that we have a little nugget happily taking up the rest of our time, it is so tough to stay on top of all of the little things that need to get done.


 

A few ways that we try to stay on top of things:

Making lists. I know most people do this, but I find that making quick lists really makes a huge difference, if even to make some space in my head. I love making a giant list first thing in the morning (like the above) and also one on the way home from work so that I can prioritize what I want to accomplish in the few precious hours I have at home in the evening hours. Oh and using pretty paper and fun markers helps too ;)

Calendar sharing. Every couple of weeks Shaun and I sit with our calendars and make sure that we are both aware of everything we have coming up in the foreseeable future. Many of our weekends are crazy and book up quickly, so going over the calendar together really helps us to feel like we're on top of things.

Staying stocked. I've found that keeping stocked on paper goods really helps to stay on top of things. I like having plenty of envelopes, stamps and checks on hand for easily paying bills or mailing out various items. I also keep a stash of blank notecards and envelopes in my gift wrap station for sending out Thank You notes or bringing a hostess gift to a party.

Cleaning dishes/making the bed. These are two things that I just cannot leave the house without doing. While it doesn't help in the administrative sense, just having a tidy bedroom and a clean kitchen makes all the difference in the world, not only when I leave the house but upon my return as well. No matter what else happens, I at least feel like my house is tidy and presentable and ready to welcome me home.

So that's how we try to keep it together. I still would love to appoint someone CAO of the household though to keep me on top of all of the million things we have going on!

So let's be dreamers...would you like to appoint someone other than you as the Chief Adminstrative Officer of your household?

What little things to you do to stay on top of your to do list?

Baking Supply Organization

Have you noticed a theme around here lately?

I've been organizing and DIY'ing like it's my job. This weekend, I hot glue-gunned AND Mod Podged something. It's like I don't even know myself anymore.

While I've been waiting for baby girl to hurry up and get here, I've been taking advantage of some extra free time - and some seriously crazy nesting instincts - and getting around to all of those little projects that I simply never had time for previously.

It's like anything that gets in my path is going to get reorganized...and if this baby doesn't show up soon...well, there's no telling what I'll do.

This weekend was mostly spent relaxing at home and getting some final things finished, like hanging artwork in the nursery, putting together a little bouncer and reorganizing some cabinets. The first thing on my list? My little baking pantry. Of course, I got right in there and neglected to take a before photo...but I'll just describe it as half-filled mason jars of random ingredients (first organized here), and a bin of sprinkles, food coloring and baking cups...none of which could be identified in any easy way.

After just 20 or so minutes, my two baking supply shelves looked like this:

Not bad right? I know you have nothing to compare it to...but just trust me when I tell you that it's like..100 times better than it was.

You see, I have this small obsession with mason jars. I use them for just about everything. I love that they can hold just about everything - from rice or oatmeal to chocolate chips or food coloring. Not to mention that they make perfect party favors

I started by emptying out the jars that had little to no ingredients left in them or consolidating what I could (like two half-filled jars of chocolate chips and 3 - yes 3 - partially filled jars of chopped walnuts...yeah, I dunno). I then washed and dried the newly emptied jars.

Next, I took down my little bin of god-knows-what goodies and emptied it. I threw out any containers of sprinkles that were mostly empty and finally got a good look at how many baking cups (like, 100s) and half-filled food colorings I had, not to mention 3 half-empty boxes of birthday candles that had opened and were flying around in there. Yikes.

And so it was (once again) Ball jars to the rescue!

I organized the baking cups into 3 piles: everyday, Christmas and other holiday. I then popped each grouping into a wide-mouthed Ball jar.

Then I put all of my smaller sprinkles containers into a tall Tupperware canister. And the candles? I took them all out of their opened & falling apart boxes and just dumped them right into a jar. I actually think they looked really cute and fun this way...kind of like crayons!

And lastly, I popped all of the little food coloring bottles into another jar.

I love everything about this since now I can see exactly what I have and what I'm missing!

And as for the larger sprinkles containers, I just stacked them on top of the jars to save some space. 

Voila!

A newly organized - if not quite 100% perfect - baking cabinet! 

I think my favorite part is the baking cups in the jars. Such a cute and easy way to wrangle baking cups, not to mention that I can now easily see that I have like 200 Christmas cups and probably won't need to buy any new ones come December.

So what do you think?

What are your pantry cabinet tips and tricks?

What have you been organizing lately?