It’s Workin’ For Us: Toy Storage

I am excited to introduce my new series “It’s Workin’ For Us!” where I will give a little peek into my life and home, highlighting organization, storage and decor ideas that are working for my family.

My two-year old, Chloe, is a big fan of imaginative play and I wanted to create a system where she could help herself to dolls, tea-sets, play food, etc. and clean up easily. Enter, Pottery Barn’s storage bins. They have handles, they are super durable, and they fit perfectly on our bookshelf.

Chloe has six bins and each one has a different set of play things. At the moment we are featuring a tea set, doll accessories, play ice cream, play cupcakes, play cookies and a doctors kit. She loves to pull out the bins herself, play on the soft carpet in her room and then (with some encouragement) toss everything back and put them away. We have been using them since she was little and I rotate the contents every few months or when she gets bored: A simple system that has proven to be very successful!

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Love Bites Bakeshop

I am a sucker for sweets and I am always on the hunt for the next best sugar fix.

I met Kathryn, of Love Bites Bakeshop, a few days ago and was fortunate enough to sample some of her incredible cupcake creations. With flavors like Snickerdoodle, Salted Caramel and Red Velvet, and the most delicate moist cake I have ever tasted, I became an instant fan… and addict. The best part is, not only are they delicious, they are adorable!  Poor Kathryn has no idea what good friends we are about to become.  Like, speed-dial good.  BFFs.  Family trips.

But seriously, if you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, impress guests at your next soiree, and support a small local business all at the same time, check out Love Bites Bakeshop…

Q & A WITH KATHRYN
Q. How did you learn to bake?

A. I have always had such a sweet tooth and was tired of going to bakeries especially cupcakeries that left me disappointed with calories not worth consuming.  I started practicing and after 2 years, I finally created my own recipes and frostings.

Q. What inspired you to start your shop?

A. To be honest, it was a surprise.  My brother in law’s cousin was a realtor and ordered a few dozen for an open house.  That’s how it all started and here I am!

Q. What is your favorite way to display cupcakes at a party?

A. Stands are always a cute way to display cupcakes, but if you do not have any,  placing them on large white rectangular platters keep it clean, modern and simple.

For menus and info check out Love Bites Bakeshop Online!
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Cute Little Shoes

I find most children’s shoes to be overpriced and not terribly stylish.

I figure, if we are going to shell out a decent amount of money for shoes, they should at least be cute. (We only buy two pairs per child at a time since we would rather have a few quality pairs of shoes that the kids love and can wear to death).

So, I went on a hunt to track down some winners.

Here is what I came up with:

Native shoes are cute, comfy and even my two-year old can slip them on and off herself!

For the rain, Hunter boots are classic and sharp.

I always like Converse All Stars on little feet:

Superga sneakers are sturdy and adorable and come in an array of styles.

Toms is doing a line for wee ones that is hard to resist!

Finally, Salt-Water Sandals are the perfect cute summer staple and come in every color of the rainbow!

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What are your favorite shoes for little ones?

Hable Construction

I have a new love. It’s pretty intense. I have just discovered the incredible storage options from Hable Construction and someone seriously needs to hold me back. Restrain me!! Laundry storage, stuffed animals, blankets, toys…the possibilities are endless!

See below for a few of my favorites:

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Have a favorite storage product? Share, please!

Zip Pouches

A friend recently asked me to write about storage ideas for tiny toys and loose game pieces.

Although many people favor clear, labeled boxes, I am a sucker for zip pouches.

Blick mesh zipper bags are great because they are so durable and can lean against each other on a shelf without collapsing. We use them for puzzles, play food and games. My two year old can unzip them herself which is a bonus.

I am also loving these stylish sets from Baggu.

They come in all different shapes and sizes, perfect for storing odds and ends.

The larger style is excellent for games and puzzles or collections of action figures or dolls.

We also fill one with kid snacks and essentials and toss it in the glove compartment of our car.

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How do you like to store itty bitty things?

Use Your Resources

It is hard to ask for help.  Now that I have two young children and a business of my own, I have been forced to get over myself and ask the people around me for help and support whenever possible.

I have learned that people actually like sharing their talents and skills and being helpful! Here three ideas you can try out to make your life easier while helping out others at the same time. A double win!

1. Babysitting swap: Know someone else with kids who is in desperate need of a break? Offer a monthly babysitting swap. You’ll be helping a friend and also gaining a date night or well deserved break for yourself!

2. Trade your skills: Everyone has something they are good at whether it’s being a fix-it person or an incredible chef. I have traded my organizational services for everything under the sun including personal training, business coaching, yoga classes and marketing expertise.

3. Meal Train: When I had my two daughters, friends and family were kind enough to organize a meal drop-off system for my husband and I. It was such a relief to know that we didn’t have to shop or prepare dinner when we were so busy with the little ones. This got me thinking how great it would be to do on a regular basis. Partner up with a few local friends and take turns dropping off dinner for each other.

How will you use your resources to simplify your life this year? Share, please!

Holiday Gift Overload!

So, we got through the holidays but now what can we do with all of this stuff?!

One of the most common issues I run into with my clients, and in my own life, is how to handle the overflow of kid stuff. We all want our kids to have a stimulating array of books and toys, but it can quickly get out of control. As a former pre-school teacher, I know that kids really don’t need much to fuel their creativity, and it is up to us, the parents, to edit what comes into our homes.

My family lives in a two bedroom flat, and we have to limit what enters our house or we would drown in it! This year, we were given an insane amount of clothing, toys and books for the holidays and we found ourselves without enough room to store everything. I decided to talk to my two-year old about it and try to strike a deal. I explained that we needed to pick our favorite things to keep but that we could donate some of the other items to her preschool or to kids who didn’t have any toys. Much to my surprise and delight she was on board immediately and started sorting her toys frantically! Soon, she had selected a tea set and some blocks to give to her school and a stack of books and toys to donate to other children. The whole thing was so quick and easy and the process taught her a valuable lesson about making choices and helping others.

I realize it won’t always be so easy and wanted to brainstorm other ways to get the inflow of stuff under control.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. For holidays and birthdays ask for “experience” presents instead of tangible gifts: A membership to the Discovery Museum or Studio Grow, dance, music or gymnastic classes or a gift card to the movies are all great presents and they take up zero space in your home.

2. Ask people to make gifts to your favorite charity or non-profit in the name of your child. You can involve your child to research options that appeal to them on a personal level. This option makes the child feel like they are having a positive impact on the world and teaches them about social responsibility.

3. Have a cooking themed birthday party. Skip the gifts and have each kid bring their favorite ingredient: pizza, sundae or cupcake toppings are fun treats. My daughter would give up her left arm for sugar and might not even notice the lack of gifts.

4. If people must buy gifts, urge them to go for books. It is always great to expand your little reader’s library and books take up far  less real estate then other games or toys.

5. The collaborative gift: Instead of lots of small items, urge your child to select one very special gift for the holidays. Friends and relatives can pool their money towards one big-ticket item that your child will treasure.

Have other ideas on how to live well with less stuff? Please share!

DIY Holiday Card Display

Usually, I am a jerk and recycle our holiday cards right away.

This year, I thought it would be nicer to create a simple display that our little ones could look at.

This is what I came up with:

Here is what I did:

I used a tack to secure a pretty cloth ribbon to the top of our dining room door.

Next, I put strips of double-sided tape on the ribbon evenly spaced out, all the way to the floor.

Finally, I adhered our holiday cards to the ribbon.

Voila: A colorful display of the ones we love most!

I am also thinking this is a charming way to display kid art once the holidays wind down.

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How do you display your holiday cards?

The Daily Docket

OK, Folks. I admit it. Having a toddler and a newborn is no joke and I am a bit in over my head with managing it all gracefully. Between all of my family obligations and running my own business I recently  found myself swamped with non-stop plans and activity and needed a new system to keep it all straight. Enter….”The Daily Docket”!!

I have been trying to figure out the perfect calendar system for quite sometime. I am not a techie and like to see things on paper but it was becoming a challenge to update my calendar in pen whenever plans shifted. Also, I needed a place for the lists of to-dos that are always running through my head…buy stamps, return jeans, pack lunch, etc. After a lot of trial and error I discovered The Daily Docket – A free download from the author of Organized Simplicity. (My fave book on organization + simple living).

This brilliant sheet of paper includes space for your daily appointments and activities but also has a place to record your dinner plans, workout goal, food + water log, daily inspiration, blog and/or work ideas and miscellaneous notes throughout the day. In addition, the Daily Docket includes a place to jot down your three “Most Important Tasks” (or MITs) for the day. With a list as long as mine, it’s so helpful to be forced to prioritize each day. Then, whatever I don’t get done by the end of the day gets transferred to the next day’s log. I am breathing easier already. Ahhhhh.
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