Archive for March 2013

Paint Chip Easter Egg Bunting

Friday, March 29

Hello lovelies! Do you have any plans for Easter this weekend? I love this wonderful time of year to reflect on our Savior, Jesus Christ. It's always a special time for our family. It will be just us and some friends on Easter Sunday, but Danny's parents will be flying in soon after, so we'll get a little bit of Easter family time with them.

I felt like our house needed a little spring/Easter sprucing up. I don't have a lot of holiday decorations, so I'm trying to incorporate some more DIY ones around the house. You've all seen those cute little easter egg buntings that have been going up, right? I've even seen cute little easter eggs made out of paint chips! I figured that would be the perfect little DIY project to put up for Easter, so I made my own. 

Easter Egg Paint Chip Garland
It's super simple and 100% free if you have string and hot glue on hand. All you need to do is grab some free paint samples (I used solid and multi-colored ones), trace and cut little egg shapes out of them, hot glue them to your choice of string and voila! Your own cute little Paint Chip Easter Egg Bunting.

Paint Chip Bunting
Paint Chip Garland
Paint Chips
Here's our little Easter entry table. I didn't fuss over it too much. I just added the garland and incorpated some Christ-centered items: my "Reflections of Christ" book by Mark Mabry, a few church magazines and publications with the Easter themed issue in front, and our 'Families are Forever' sign along with one of our wedding pictures to remind us of the eternal nature and purpose of our lives. 

Easter Vignette
Looking for activities to celebrate Easter this year? If you're local to Arizona, this Friday and Saturday down in Mesa our church will be holding the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant: Jesus the Christ (click here for the website and here for an AZ Central article on this year's production). It's a community Easter celebration - all religions, ages, and cultures are welcome. It's free admission - no tickets required. Performances start at 8pm. Danny and I went last year and loved every minute of it. It celebrates the birth and life of our Savior. It's a wonderful production - we're hoping we'll be able to make it out there this weekend for our second time seeing it.

Happy Easter, friends!

Crafty Easter Project

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How To: Properly Disposing of Unused/Expired Medication

Thursday, March 28

Spring cleaning is still in full force over at our household. I've decided to deep clean everything. It's a slow, slow process, but it's so nice opening a closet door and seeing everything organized, or not having to worry about where all of our important papers are because I sorted through them just the other week (with the husband's help). We've been decluttering and purging like crazy. My goal is to be wrapping up with everything by the end of this week (because my birthday is next week, and as much as I love cleaning, it doesn't exactly fit in with my idea of celebrating). 

Let's move on to some important business, shall we? Whenever you decide to tackle a closet/cabinet/drawer you haven't touched in a while, you are inevitably going to come across something kind-of important that you don't know what to do with. Last week, I came across a whole lotta expired medicine in this cabinet here: 

All of our medicine and first aid items were stored in those two baskets. After taking things down and going through it all, this is what the cabinet looks like now:

Little bit of a bad shot - I was focusing on the organized tray on the bottom shelf. But do you notice that there is just one basket up top now? That's because half of all of the medicine we had was expired. Half!

As soon as I had the expired vs. still good medicine sorted, I realized that I didn't know how to properly get rid of unused medicine. Medicine is kind-of a big deal. Throwing it out in the trash seemed wrong (what if an animal got into our bags?). Flushing it down the toilet didn't seem right (could it potentially pollute the soil and water?). So I did what we all do best when we don't have an answer to something - I googled. 

Right away, I found the FDA's official guide on how to dispose of unused medicines (you can see that document HERE). 

According to the FDA's guidelines, the first thing you are supposed to do is follow any disposal instructions contained on the medicine. The FDA has approved certain practices (such as flushing certain medicines down the toilet), and occasionally you will have a medicine label containing that information. I didn't notice any disposal instructions on mine, so I went to step 2. 

Step 2 was enlightening for me. Apparently, there are drug "take-back" programs all over the country. These programs allow you to bring in unused medication to a certain location that will properly dispose of the drugs for you. *I highly recommend this if it is available in your area!! Currently, there is a planned National Take Back Day on Saturday, April 27th from 10:00am - 2:00pm. Sites are currently being organized - you can visit this website on April 1st to see if a site will be organized near your community. You can also contact your local pharmacy - they will most likely have information regarding sites near you. Unfortunately for me, I did not find a take-back program anywhere close to where I lived, and I hadn't heard about the national take-back day in April, otherwise I might have held onto them for another month. So I went with step 3.

*See "updates" at the bottom of this post for additional information on drug take-back programs that may be available in your area

Step 3 on the FDA's guideline is to:
(1) Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance
(2) Put them in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the medication leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag
(3) Throw the drugs in the household trash

These precautions are part of the FDA's "risk mitigation" strategy. In other words, it "presents the least risk to safety." So if an animal digs into your trash can outside, they won't be as tempted to eat the medicine. Or if a child tips over the trash in your house, they hopefully won't see a bunch of brightly colored pills that look like candy. Or, even if someone who has a serious drug problem digs through your trash, all they will find are empty bottles and won't recognize the pills because they are hidden. 

In going with step number 3, the first thing I did was empty all of the expired medicine out of their bottles, then separated them into their own Ziplock bags.

The next thing I needed to do was mix them with an "undesirable substance." The FDA recommends kitty litter or used coffee grinds. Problem: I don't have cats and I don't drink coffee. So what was I supposed to mix them with? I googled some more, and came across the City of Scottsdale's drug disposal guidelines. They suggested kitty litter, coffee grinds, or dish soup - any type of foul mixture that would not be pleasant to the taste for animals. Luckily for me, I wash dishes (ha), so I had plenty of dish soap on hand. 

Here's the problem, though - it didn't cover up the medicine. It may have made them taste bad, but I didn't think tossing them in the trash like this would have really worked. But Scottsdale's web page   suggested making a "paste" out of the medicine by adding some water. So I added a little bit to lather it all up. I still felt like we needed to an "undesirable" substance to the medicine, though. So Danny suggested dirt. He went out into our backyard, grabbed a pile of it in a pail, and we mixed a handful of it in each bag.

I was scared the bags could burst open, so I bagged them all together in another bigger Ziplock bag. If you have a watertight container to put them into, I would probably go with that instead. 

Looks gross, right? I dumped them into Wal-Mart plastic bags for extra safety and then threw them away into the trash. 

Last but not least, before throwing out any of the containers/bottles, don't forget to scratch off the personal information on the label. It not only helps protect your identity, but it keeps anyone from knowing what was in there. 

I'm not entirely sure about mixing the medication into a paste like I did. Scottsdale's website suggested it, but the FDA's guideline did not. I'm assuming it's to help mask the fact that it's actually medicine since pills are too easily recognized (*see "updates" below for more information regarding this). If you have any information regarding this, please let me know. In the meantime I'm going to be checking up with my pharmacist for clarification and will include an update with what I find.

I will leave you with a few words of caution regarding drug disposal:

  • Do not use drugs past their expiration date, ever. Properly discard of them as soon as they are expired.
  • Never give unused medications to a friend. A drug that works for you could potentially endanger someone else's life.
  • If you have different medication other than pills, such as an asthma inhaler, ensure safe disposal by following the label instructions and contacting your local trash or recycling facility.
  • When in doubt, please contact your local pharmacist about proper medication disposal. 

If anyone has any tips or know-how on properly disposing of medications, please share! I would especially be interested in any "undesirable" substances you've used to dispose of them. As always, be safe. Medicine is not something to be ignored or tossed out carelessly.

Don't forget! April 27th, 2013 from 10am-2pm is National Take Back Day. Visit this webpage on April 1st to see if a site has been organized near your area.



3/28: On Facebook, I was informed that pharmacies, police stations and/or fire stations will have drop-offs open regularly. Check with the local ones in your ares to see if they have one set up, or if they schedule a certain time every month to do drop-offs!

3/29: I spoke with my pharmacist concerning mixing medicine into a paste. She informed me that it was fine. Just make sure you are still mixing an undesirable substance in the paste mixture, and that you throw it away - in the trash - in a leak-proof bag/container (do NOT flush it down the toilet).

3/29: If your pharmacy, police station, or fire station do not have drop-offs, I was also informed by a friend that you can check with your doctor and/or hospital - they might have available drop-offs for you to dispose of your medicine. This might be especially helpful if you have drop-offs for medicine such as needles and syringes.


Linking up: Design, Dining, and Diapers, 504 Main, Tatertots & Jello, Home Stories A to Z

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Living Room Corner Space and Making the Most of It

Wednesday, March 27

When Danny and I moved into our new house, I was confronted with a problem: we had two "main" rooms, something I wasn't used to. The front door opens up into a living room while the backside houses the family room with the TV. The rooms are both very distinct and very separate. I knew what to do with our family room - couches, TV, a little coffee table and some side tables with decorating touches and bam! Room done. But our living room? What was I supposed to do with that? Should I put couches in there? Maybe just a chair or two? Or should I put something big in it, like a piano? I honestly wondered if we were even going to use that room. Both the living room and the family room seemed to be two different spaces that were similar in use and function. I felt like one room might become nothing but wasted space.

This is what the living room in our house looked like before we moved in:

The people living here before us had a small couch with some ottomans in the living room corner. Looks ok, but it leaves a huge gap open between the couch and the front door. I hate decorating corner spaces like this - it seems like no matter what you do, you get dead space. When Danny and I moved in, we actually ended up shoving a couch and love seat in this area. We'd bought a leather couch and big chair from the previous renters - which resided in the family room - so we put our old couch set into the living room until we could figure out what to do with it.

This is the only picture I could find of our old couch set in the new house. It's from Danny's first day of Medical school (isn't he cute?).

The couches we had were old, ugly, and flowery. But by golly they were the most comfortable things you've ever sat on in your life. They were gifted to us by a friend of ours when we were first married. His parents were getting new couches and needed to get rid of their old ones. Seeing as how we were sitting on nothing but camping chairs and paint buckets at the time, he brought them over for us free of charge. It was pretty exciting hauling those babies into our apartment. We felt fancy and married - what with real furniture and all in our first place together.

As much as we loved those big ol' things, once we moved to Arizona, it was time to let them go. Their comfortableness made up for their ugliness, but now that we could afford new ones, I really wanted something different, especially for this living room. Pushed together, they formed an awkward dead space right smack dab in the corner. The whole set up was just so ill-fitting. After deciding that we wanted the living room to hold extra sitting space for when we had people over, we opted to buy a sectional. After some perusing around, I found this white whale of a beast on Craigslist:

It's huge. This baby seats at least 10 people. And it looks prettier in the picture than it does in person. Not that it's bad in real life, it just has a very weird pattern to it... kinda makes it look a bit old school. But we drove 40 miles out of our way to see it and I was so convinced that we were going to take it home that we bought it even though I knew it wasn't what I was looking for. Danny kept telling me over and over that I shouldn't buy it if I wasn't sure, but I just couldn't let myself walk away. I learned my lesson that day. Now, I always give myself a day or two to think about big purchases. And if I'm still unsure by day two or three, I walk away. This day, however, I didn't do that. I had to fight down a rising sense of panic when we got it all the way back to our house and started unloading it. I knew I didn't like it. I knew that before we bought it. And we couldn't take it back. And I'd saved up money for my dream couch and now that money was gone. I couldn't look at the thing for days after that. My only consolation was that it was comfortable. Insanely comfortable, just like our old flowery couches. 

It didn't help, either, that when we had parties over at our place, everyone gravitated to our family room. We never even used the big sucker! Within a month or two of buying it, I asked Danny if I could put it up on Craigslist. He didn't want to - he loved the couch. Again, it was insanely comfortable, but he especially loved how big it was. I could lay down on one side, he could lay down on the other and our feet wouldn't even touch. But I still wanted to put it up, and so he agreed.

After months of having it up, we've had a ton of interest but no bites. People will come and look at it and then decide to pass. So I finally decided that we should keep it. It was really comfortable. And I figured if I could get over the flowery ugliness of our old couches, I could get over this not-so-bad sectional. But that didn't stop me from trying to make the space prettier. So after pulling in the rug from our family room, spreading out the pillows, and snagging a free coffee table a friend-of-a-friend was giving away, here's what the space looks like now:

Um, I almost feel bad for admitting it, but I kind of like it. The couch still has an ugly fabric to it, but I pretend to not see it anymore. I wish the rug was bigger, but I think it works. And the coffee table just ties it all together. Here's a before-we-moved-in and after shot so you can see how having a sectional fills up the space:

I'm glad I was able to work with what I had. The past few nights I've actually spent some time down on the couch before I go to bed, either reading or catching up on some blogs. And it's worked great when we have people drop by for just a few minutes - even though our parties always gravitate towards the family room, unexpected company usually ends up sitting in this area. So it's worked out well for us. 

Eventually I hope to get some artwork on the walls and an end table on one side. And instead of the lamp we have sitting behind it right now, I was thinking of one these three floor lamps from Ikea (this one, this one, or this one). We're kind-of close to finishing the downstairs; it'll be nice when it's all wrapped up and decorated. 

What about you guys? Ever had a space that you just didn't know what to do with? Or finally find a way to make what you had work? Danny's certainly glad that we didn't get rid of this couch - he really loves it (and he's usually not vocal about furniture). And it is kind-of fun having this thing when the nieces and nephews come over. Turns out, this sectional is kinda perfect for some pretty awesome fort building.

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Tuesday, March 26

Have you heard the news yet? Google Reader is going away - and that includes Feedburner.

Stinks, right?

Well, to solve the slow trickling out of these services (it will completely shut down July 1st), I've decided to go to Bloglovin'. If you follow me via Google Reader or Feedburner, you'll have to switch over to a new reader. I'm looking into other readers, but I'd suggest making the switch over to Bloglovin'. Here's a great post from Elsie over at A Beautiful Mess describing why she likes Bloglovin' so much.

Follow on Bloglovin 
Follow my blog with Bloglovin


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Beauty Station

Monday, March 25

The other day I went over to my friend's house to help organize her office (this friend o' mine - Sandra - is the same pretty lady that helped me plant those lovely flowers by my front door). As we were taking things back and forth between rooms, trying to sort what did and didn't belong in the office, I walked past her master bedroom and saw her jewelry display. We started talking about jewelry and how to store it and she showed me a few ideas she's saved up on Pinterest. 

Later, after I was home, I decided that my own little jewelry display needed a little TLC. Does anyone else have trouble storing jewelry? It is the bane of my existence. I have a couple of things I reserve that phrase for (including, but not limited to: organizing stuff under the kitchen sink, figuring out what to snack on that is healthy and won't spoil before I get to it, and keeping my closet clean). I feel like I have tried every jewelry storage thing out there. Each new thing I tried seemed to be one, or a combination of, three things:

(1) Not practical
(2) Too bulky/space-wasting
(3) Ugly

I love pretty trays and gorgeous bowls, but the trays were never big enough to hold everything, and sometimes I lost jewelry pieces in the bowls because they were buried underneath bigger items. I've never really liked jewelry boxes, but when I did try them, they were always too small and ill-fitting. Some of the traditional necklace-and-earring holders (like this one) can be pretty, but soon I had too many necklaces or dangly earrings to fit on it and pulling off/putting on earrings studs that have a back to them was a nightmare. I needed separate spaces for earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, but soon the little trinkets began to add up and the space become bulky and cluttered and not very well managed. Anything that half-worked was either ugly or just dysfunctional enough that I had to change it. I moved my jewelry from my dresser to my closet to the bathroom to a bag to a bowl to a tray to a drawer. It was driving me insane. 

For the past almost-year we've lived in our new place, my jewelry has resided in our master bathroom closet. The closet itself is an awkward space - half of it is blocked by the sink and you can't reach anything in it. Right now it holds our laundry, our ratty clothes and shoes we use for painting/dirty work, some bathroom cleaning supplies, and my jewelry. Danny and I installed a little shelf from Target a while back to help with my anger at the jewelry clutter. Raising things vertically if you've got the space (instead of spreading them out horizontally) can really help define an area. After talking with Sandra about storing jewelry, I decided to give my jewelry space a little attention. What I ended up with was a beauty station. And I'm kind-of digging it. 

I do three things right before I walk out the door at the beginning of the day: accessorize, put lotion on my hands, and spritz some body spray on. I decided to make my little beauty station a one-stop place for all of that. I tacked my nail polish on because it's pretty and is definitely a little beauty station stop. The lotions and creams in this picture are actually some leftovers the husband gave me - Hemp lotions from The Body Shop. And that big tube thing beside is a can of teeth whitening gel and application strips leftover from my stocking this last Christmas. They fit in the space, so I'm leaving them there for now. 

I decided to use my shelf as a guide for my little beauty station. Nothing could go past the edges. I like my jewelry stored in a neat and clearly defined space. The biggest part for me, though, that sold me on this set-up is the fact that I can see all of my jewelry. Hallelujah! No more big pieces covering up small pieces and random things getting lost or tangled up. Blissdom, right there. 

Let's take a walk through this little area. I'll show you why I love this set-up so much. First up, my nail polish:

I'll admit it - I'm in love with the little gold boxes that they're sitting in. Seriously - smitten. I have a thing for pretty storage and cute mini boxes. And the gold leaf with black speckles? Le sigh. Want to know where I picked up these little cuties?

They came from a watch box! This pretty little gold chain watch was a gift I got a few weeks ago. I was just about to throw away the box it came in, lamenting at what a waste it was to toss out something so pretty because I didn't need a box like that, when it hit me - what if I tore the box in half? Used each side as a little cubby organizer? And voila! Instant nail polish storage. Better than any other nail polish storage I've used before (which has pretty much been either a metal tin or a ziplock bag). It's also nice because it keeps me from buying extra nail polish bottles. I have enough - I only need what these two little things will fit. I tend to have issues with wanting to buy too much nail polish - those pretty little colors right beside the makeup aisle draw me in everytime, people. 

Let's move on to bracelets:

When I was over at Sandra's house, most of the storage/organization bins we ended up using were boxes, baskets, random compartment organizers, etc. that she had saved up. Anything that looked like it could be used to organize something - she held on to it. It inspired me. I decided to use this green little tin. It previously held the hemp lotion I referred to earlier. The lid to this tin actually now houses all of the husband's shaving stuff down below his sink. The green adds a pretty pop of color. I may not keep it forever, but for right now, it works perfectly. And again - I can see all of my bracelets at one glance. I love that. 

No organization to my body spray - I just place it up there because it's pretty and I usually like to spritz it on as I'm trying to figure out what jewelry to wear. I usually only have 1 body spray/perfume at a time. Part of me wants to have a million different kinds (I love wonderful, smell-good things) but I get anxious having too many bottles that I'm not using. The other two containers hold pretty shimmery powder - a gift from my mother-in-law for Christmas. I like to add a little dab or spritz of it on for date night. And I posted about my necklace organizer earlier, so we'll skip that. 

Okay, okay - I've been holding on to the best part for last. This isn't necessarily the prettiest way to store jewelry, but I feel like it was heaven sent when I saw these containers at Target:

They're clear, they're stackable, and they have separate compartments to organize different kinds of jewelry. Seriously, this is what I've been needing all my life. I had kind-of tried this before - I once used these pretty little egg trays from Anthropologie to separate out my earrings and rings. But they aren't stackable; they smoosh your jewelry. I chipped one and ended up selling it in a yard sale. The other I've held on to (you can see the tip of it in the nail polish picture). These containers, though, don't smoosh your jewelry. They are lightweight and rest slightly above the bottom of the container below it. And the individual compartments are bigger so you can place larger pieces of jewelry in them. 

In the top organizer I store watches, rings, and small earrings with backs. In the middle one I store all of my dangly earrings, plus a few earrings and rings I only wear for special occasions (like my BYU game day earrings). In the bottom organizer I have items like my rubber bracelets I'll sometimes buy at races or random events and jewelry that's broken and needs to be fixed. 

Just the other day, I actually added a little feature to one of the compartments. I wanted to separate out some of the earrings I wear into categories. So I chopped up another watch box made out of cardboard and hot glued these little strips down:

Clockwise starting at the top: (1) Fabric earrings, along with another two pair I wear often. (2) My dangly small earrings. (3) My colorful, round, fun pairs. (4) Pearls and earrings I wear for dressed-up days. 

And there you have it! A little wrap-up of my beauty station. I usually set my sunglasses here, too - I'm less likely to forget them when I see them right before I leave the house. I might add other fun accessories or swap out pretty jewelry trays (like this one or this one) as time goes on. And the space has room to grow up on the walls. Right now, though, my little station makes me happy. It's pretty, functional, and practical. 

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Freezer Meals: Round II

Wednesday, March 20

After we were finished with our first round of freezer meals, I immediately made another batch. It's so nice coming home for dinner and not having to worry about anything except sticking the meal in the oven. 

This time around, I decided to give my own go at adapting regular recipes we loved into freezer meals. These recipes have been modified from ones I've saved on Pinterest - I've noted the original source for each one. I also tried to remember to take pictures of each meal we made... I ended up with 3 out of 5. And some we were almost finished with before I even rememberd to snap a photo. Next time, I'll be more diligient. Here are the few I did get:

Fig Balsamic Honey Rosemary Chicken

Veggie Enchilada Bake

Easy Pineapple Meatloaf

Those don't look too shabby, right? I wish I'd gotten a picture of all of them. Our personal favorites this go-around were the Sweet Corn Casserole (Danny couldn't stop raving about it) and the Easy Pineapple Meatloaf (a regular we've loved for years). The Veggie Enchilada Bake was the most surprising - I was really worried it wouldn't freeze well but it held up fantastic. These were all a great bunch of meals.

Click on the links below to download the recipes and shopping list. I've included how much of each ingredient you'll need so you can shop your kitchen first before you shop the grocery store. If you try them out, let me know how you like them!

Download the Recipe List HERE

Download the Master Shopping List HERE

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Spring Cleaning | The Office

Friday, March 15

I am a messy cleaner. I tend to make things a million times worse during the cleaning process. I take things off shelves and tables and dump them on the floor. Then sometimes I decide I need to rearrange the entire room. And then things just get worse from there. Lucky for me, though, they always get better. There is a method to my madness. The husband, however, doesn't understand how my mind works. Just the other night, he came home to this:

That would be our office. I was sitting at the computer, waiting for Danny to get home from school, and all of a sudden decided that our office needed some major organization. Halfway through, I decided that our desk needed to be on the opposite side of the wall. Danny got home around 11pm. He saw what I was doing, shook his head, and kept on walking to the room. Oh well. At least he doesn't question it anymore. 

Did anyone notice the plate and spoon in both pictures? I have to have food when I clean. Weird, right? Cleaning makes me hungry, I guess. So does studying. In college I always studied at home versus at the library - I liked having the kitchen nice and close. 

Cleaning out the office took me a good two days. I had to go out and buy a few things to consolidate a lot of our desk items and at one point Danny needed to get on the computer. I decided to take a break amidst all the junk and talk to him while he was doing med school stuff. 

Soon, though, I started making headway. Originally I had one bookcase in the office closet but decided to bring it out. Slowly but surely, I sorted through all of the junk and the room started to get organized.

After sorting through a lot of junk and rearranging every little thing in that entire office, I was finally done.

If this room could be my dream office, it would look a lot different. But right now, we're working with what we've got. And honestly, as long as a space is organized, I can wait for it to look the way I want it to. 

Next up was our guest bedroom. There were a lot of things that I had taken out of the office because I believed they didn't really belong in there. I didn't really "take them out" of the office as much as I threw them into the hallway. This is another reason why Danny isn't always fond of my cleaning bouts - they usually aren't limited to just one space. I like it, though. It forces me to get more stuff cleaned up. 

Anyways, after the office purging and reorganizing, our guest bedroom looked liked this:

This room is more of an all-purpose room. We store bigger items (like luggage and Danny's guitar cases) in here, all of our winter coats and jackets, along with med school notebooks that aren't needed right now. We use it as a guest bedroom when Danny's parents come stay with us and one day it will be turned into a nursery for our little kiddos. 

This room didn't take as long. A lot of things just needed to be taken down to the garage or donated to Goodwill. This is what it looked like after everything was nice and cleaned up:

I still have a few more spaces I want to purge and organize. I'm trying to do everything before this Arizona summer heat sneaks up on us. Our house gets during the summer months out here. I can't stand to walk out in the garage for two seconds, let alone spend a bunch of time moving around and cleaning when it's 80 degrees inside and 120+ degrees outside. 

Need some motivation to get a room in your house clean and organized? Here are some tips and tricks that help me:

Set a Day to Start
If you're having trouble even starting, set a specific day and time to work on it. Pencil it in on your calendar. Add it to your email/phone calendar. Set a reminder/alarm on your phone! Set aside some time specifically to organize - the more specific you can get, the better. If you're organizing your office, say that on Monday you'll clean off your desk, Tuesday you'll organize the bookcase, and on Wednesday and Thursday you'll tackle the paperwork. Just start somewhere, and then record that starting point on your calendar or daily "to-do" list to help give you direction and some accountability. 

Grab a Friend!
Almost anything can be made easier with a friend. It's also good to have someone to offer a fresh perspective - they can help with deciding how to organize a bookcase or how to store a bunch of random items. Friends are also instrumental in helping you decide what to keep and what to get rid of. You want to grab a friend who will be ok with telling you to throw something away if you don't need to hold onto it anymore. 

Have a "Trash" Pile and a "Donate" Pile Set Up Before You Even Start
The biggest part of organizing is getting rid of things you don't need anymore. I'm a big proponent of getting rid of stuff you don't need anymore. Some people like to hold onto things because they think that they might be able to use them someday - my motto is "When in doubt, throw out." Obviously, you are going to be the only one who will be able to determine what you truly need and what you don't, so keep that in mind. Don't get rid of things you do need to hold onto. But definitely do not hold on to things that can be either thrown away or donated. 

I like to grab two big trash bags - I keep them separate so I know which is which. One is for everything that is immediately going into the dumpster, and the other is for items I will immediately donate. Usually, I make two big piles in front of each bag before actually tossing items in - I like to go through them one more time just to make sure I didn't accidentally throw anything important into "trash" or "donate." If you have someone helping you, you might want to add this step in case they might have tossed in something you could have overlooked. 

Do Something to Take Your Mind Off of the Task
I like putting on some music from Pandora. Or I'll hook up my iPod and play an audiobook. Every now and then I'll turn on Hulu, but whenever I turn it on, my 2-hour cleaning session turns into a 5-hour cleaning session. I tend to spend most of my time paying attention to what is happening on "Psych" or "Castle" than actually cleaning. But do whatever works for you. Even if watching a few shows causes your cleaning to last a little bit longer, at least it's helping ease the task and you're getting something done.

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