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. 

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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.

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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

Surprisingly Delicious Vegetable Quinoa + Organizing Under My Bathroom Sink

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Last night Shaun had an idea to make a giant pan of sauteed vegetables and serve it over quinoa.

It's not the most exciting dish, but definitly fits within our 'get back on track to healthy eating' plan now that summer is over and we're both feeling a bit heavier. Though simple ingredients were used and no heavy sauces to speak of, I can't get this dish out of my head! A smattering of seasoned sauteed green squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms served atop an onion-laden quinoa made this dish so flavorful, filling and healthy. I couldn't believe how this seemingly boring dish turned out so deliciously! More. I want more.

In addition to finally watching the True Blood finale last night (holyyyy @#$%!!!!...and if you feel the same - or differently - head over to our FB page to discuss...), I felt that I had to get something productive done at home. The disaster I call under my bathroom sink has been bugging me for some time now. Can you tell why?

I didn't even know half of what was hidden under the top layer of hair products. Somewhere in there are loose packets of contact lenses, rogue lipsticks, hair brushes that I haven't seen in a year and lord knew what else. My real goal is to install a double-tiered pull out wire shelf, like this little number from Bed Bath & Beyond. But until I get around to that one, I couldn't stand this mess for one moment longer.

I started by pulling everything out of the cabinet. I moved it into the living room so that I could have space to organize. Here's the new and improved version:

I got rid of the small blue basket and changed it out for a larger wicker one that I had lying around. I separated my things into two stuff and non-hair stuff. In the left side, I put all mousses, hairsprays, brushes, blow dryer, and flat iron in this one. I took an old, very cleanly washed out planter to corral my headbands, hairties and clips.

In the second basket, I added the rest of my 'products', including contact solution, deodorant, moisturizers, extra contacts (organized in an old box of twine), mouthwash and more. I corraled tampons and liners in 2 white Ikea planters. Yup, I just posted a photo of tampon organization. You saw it here first, friends. I also left space for my box of makeup remover face cloths and added a smaller basket in the back for rogue items like moisturizer samples, nail files, tweezers and pocket mirrors.

One more shot of the finished product:

Isn't that soooooo much better? I still don't have a solution for my giant makeup case, so that will need to rest on top of one of the baskets for now. It was nice to also make the decision that I do need to install the pull out so that everything, including my makeup, can fit and be easily accessible. For now, I'll take this organization until I get around to a more permanent upgrade! And the entire process really took about 15 minutes tops. Not bad, right?

Questions of the Day:

Have you ever made a dish that seemed unexciting, but you ended up loving?

What simple organizational projects have you tackled lately?