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Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Goals Update

  • Make tortillas from scratch. This didn't happen.
  • Switch to plain yogurt. We switched, somewhat successfully.  The first time we had this, Jonah looked at me and said, "This tastes funny."  We're easing into it by adding sweet things to it at first, like chocolate chips and chopped fruit.
  • Continue granola bar search.  I actually didn't make any granola bars this month either.  But I did make a few kinds of cookies, muffins, and Danish pastries, so we had enough other homemade snacks.
  • Participate in another (hopefully bigger!) busy bag exchange. We got 13 new busy bags, which have all been played with numerous times.
  • Do something fun for St. Patrick's Day. Everyone got a really bad cold, so St. Patrick's Day was pretty low key this year.
  • Do something fun for Easter. We went to my parents' house (a treat in itself!), dyed eggs, and had a pancake breakfast at church, plus a non-traditional pork steak and potato pancake dinner.
  • Celebrate Matthew's 2nd birthday! I can't believe my baby is 2 already!  I'll have a post up in the next few days about his fire truck birthday cake.
  • Fix the rip in our older couch. I noticed a second rip starting.  But I didn't fix either of them yet.
  • Finish the Thomas the Tank Engine magnets I started for the kids. I had these all ready to go, glued magnets on them, and the magnets fell right off.  They are still sitting in my current craft project basket waiting to be fixed. 
  • Consistently read my devotion every day.  Still not consistent.  I think this will be a constant work in progress for me.
  • Organize our upstairs loft area to make room for Hannah's crib and clothing. I did this through the 31 Day Organizational Challenge, and got a lot accomplished!
Even though I didn't end up completing a lot of my goals, I still feel like I got a lot done this month.  Hopefully next month I can be more successful!

What I'm Reading...

Happy Easter!  Posts have been a little bit light this week as we have been celebrating Matthew's second birthday and the Easter holiday with family and friends.  But if you've missed me, you're in luck, because I have a lot of posts planned for this week once we get back to our normal schedule...

5 Reasons Parents Need To Use Myers Briggs. (Penelope Trunk via Simple Mom)

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short. (Simple Mom)

5 Simple Ways To Reduce Sugar In Your Diet. (Food Your Way)

Help! My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy! (The Happiest Mom)

Stuff Vs. Things: Musing About Minimalism, Self-Sufficiency, And Accumulating Things. (Offbeat Home)

The Simple Year. (The Minimalist Mom)

31 Day Organizational Challenge: After Pictures

Can you believe that March is over already?!?  That means the end of the 31 Day Organizational Challenge as well.  Let's look at how far we've come...

Here are my previous posts in this series, and some highlights for each week:
Let's review the goals for this space:
  • To get Hannah's crib set up with bedding (which means playing musical beds with our two sons, Jonah and Matthew) - We didn't find a good deal on a new bed for Matthew yet, who is currently in the crib, so I set up the pack and play as a placeholder for Hannah's bed until we find a bed to switch him to.
  • To find a small dresser or shelving system to store Hannah's clothes - I have been trying to decide what sort of system to use for the clothes, and I haven't found the perfect one yet.
  • To find a place to store Jesse's books neatly until he moves into his new office at work (sometime this summer) - The books are all on the bookshelf or in boxes in our storage area.
  • To pare down my craft supplies and maybe move them into the closet (which means moving other things out of the closet) - I got rid of 3 boxes of stuff on Freecycle, recycled and trashed some other things, and moved the rest to the closet.
  • To change my "work space" into a changing area/diaper storage for Hannah - All of the stuff got relocated, and now there's a nice space for diaper changes and storage.
So how does it look now?  Here's the match-up of before and after shots....

Here was the view coming up the stairs before:

and after!
There are still the two gray tubs of my husband's office stuff, but the rest of the clutter is packed away.

The opposite corner before:
and after!
This is where Hannah's crib will go, but for now, the pack and play is standing in.  The sewing table stayed, but I emptied it off, so I can use that space for something if I need to.

The hall closet before:
and after!
The craft shelf and most of my craft supplies were pared down and moved into the closet.

The work station before:
and the changing area after!
Since I didn't find a dresser for Hannah's clothes yet, they are stacked up here for now.  And I still have some craft supplies stored underneath, but I was able to purge a lot of stuff from this area.

So here's my overview of the mess that was before:
and here's a picture from that same angle now!  So much cleaner!
Now that the space is cleared out, I can get to the fun of decorating (because once everything got moved out, I realized how bare the walls are up here).  I won't be adding a ton of stuff, because we are only planning on being in this house for a few more months, but enough to make it a nice little space for Hannah.

I wish I had had a bit more time to finish putting the cute little touches on the room so I could show a completed "after", but I got all of the hard work done, and for that, I am really happy. 

As part of the organizing challenge, there were several questions to answer as well.

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?
I chose to organize our upstairs loft to make room for baby Hannah, who is due in May.

2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 31 day timeline?
I set up weekly goals for myself to work on specific parts of the room so I didn't get overwhelmed by the whole thing.

3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part was finding time to go work on the space by myself.  I did get quite a bit done while my kids were awake, but there's not much for them to do upstairs, so those were very short chunks of time.  I got most of my work on this space done in two larger sessions when my husband was home.

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
Stuff that was meant to be stored was packed away neatly (mainly books and office supplies).  Extra craft supplies were given away on Freecycle, and I have a bin of things that I want to try to sell that was relocated to our bedroom.  I'm giving myself a month to do that, and then those items will be donated.

5. Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?
I think my proudest moment was in week 3 when I got my craft items all relocated to the closet, and the corner for Hannah's crib was finally clear.  Seeing all the empty space was awesome!

6. Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?
We don't have a lot of extra money for this space, and we also will probably only be living here for a few more months, so I didn't want to spend money on organizing systems or things that won't work for somewhere else.  So I was trying to reuse what I already had and make better use of the space.  We will still end up trying to find some sort of dresser for Hannah's clothes, but we made $20 selling the toy boxes that were up there, so I'm hoping I can find something inexpensive on Craigslist or something. 

7. What is ONE piece of organizing advice you've learned on this journey that you could encourage someone else with?
Take a look at your things with a critical eye.  I have a tendency to save craft supplies because they might be useful for projects someday.  If I haven't used something, and I've had it for years, I probably won't miss it.  I made sure to only keep items that I had a specific plan for, or that are part of my stitching supplies that I actually regularly use.  The same idea can apply to other things too.  We had a closet full of sweatshirts, and only actually wore a few of them.  The rest went into our donate pile.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weekly Coupon Shopping


  • Pepsi Next 2 liter: $1.49.  Used free coupon from Superbowl promo (which took off $1.99) = free!
  • Fanta 12pack: $4.99.  Used free coupon from My Coke Rewards = free!
  • 2 Up & Up Facial Tissues: $0.99 each.  Used two $0.50/1 Target printables = paid $0.49 each!
  • Nivea Lip Balm: $3.49.  Used free coupon from Facebook promo (which took off $3.99) = free!
  • Method Hand Soap Refill: $4.49.  Used $1/1 printable and $1/1 Target printable = $2.49.
  • Not pictured: 2 trucks and a puzzle for Matthew's birthday - $14.99, $14.99, and $8.
  • Used 5% off of purchase coupon I got in the mail (taken off after coupons, so saved $1.94), and got $0.10 for using reusable bags = paid $12.52 on a prepaid debit card (got from a rebate) and $27.89 out of pocket.

Other Coupon Savings:
  • Caribou Coffee: Used a $1 survey receipt and got $0.44 off for using my mug.
  • Groupon: Got a $10 Starbucks eGift card for $5, and used $5 of credit in my account = free coffee!
  • Barnes & Noble Starbucks: Used B1G1 drink coupon (and they took off the price of the more expensive drink!) = paid $6.58 for 2 drinks and a treat for the boys.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What I'm Reading...

24 Reasons To Eat More Coconut Oil. I've tried and liked baking with it, but I haven't ventured much beyond that yet. (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

More Peas, Thank You Cookbook Sneak Peek.  One of my favorite food blogs (and cookbook authors) has a new book coming out soon.  I'm excited to try the thin mints recipe in this post. (Peas & Thank You)

Why I Consider "Homemaker" One Of My Jobs. (Offbeat Home)

Storage Space And Spring Cleaning.  I generally agree that if you are paying to store stuff, you probably just need to get rid of it.  However, we are potentially looking at renting a smaller apartment for the next year or two to save up to buy a house, and we may end up storing some of our furniture for that time.  So there are exceptions... (The Simple Dollar)

Keep Your Ride In Working Order.  I am glad my husband knows about car maintenance, because I am pretty clueless. (Simple Mom)

Friday, March 22, 2013

31 Day Organizational Challenge: Progress Report

Last week for the 31 Day Organizing Challenge was not as successful as I had hoped, since the rest of my family got sick.  I knew my getting sick was inevitable, so I went to work Saturday right away and got a bunch done before the sickness got me too.  Here's what I wanted to get accomplished this week:

  • Clear off changing table area
    • Move craft shelf into closet
     You may recall the changing table area before:
     And here's how it looks now:
    I still need to work on the area underneath, but the top is pretty well cleared off.

    This box off to the right is more craft stuff to get rid of (and I'm sure I'll still be adding to this over the next few days).

    This smaller basket has items I've saved for specific projects, which I will be working on over the next few weeks as well.  I figure if my "current projects" are limited to a small basket, that's not too bad.  I just have to find a place to set it.

    There are still a few things to take care of on this side, but I got a bunch cleared off, and I could see real progress over here this week, which made me happy.

    The other big area I worked on this week was the closet.  Here's before:

    And here's how it looks now!
    I moved my craft shelf into the closet, and reorganized the closet shelves to better use the space.

    Games went on the top two shelves.

    My pretty boxes for paper scraps and extra greeting cards are below the games, and craft supplies and jars are below that.

    And finally, my stockpile of feminine supplies from when I was big into couponing. This pile has lasted me years, although having a few kids helps to make that last longer too...

    So now that the craft shelf is in the closet, the corner of the loft area, which used to look like this:

    now looks like this!

    Look at all that space!  This is where I am planning on putting Hannah's bed, so I am thrilled to see this space cleared out.  The boxes and bag in the corner are Hannah's clothes and blankets, and I am still working on finding a dresser or shelf to put those on, so they will only be there until I find that.

    We are getting close to the end of this challenge, which means I need to get going to finish under the changing table area and by Jesse's books, but I feel pretty good about how this space is turning out, and I got a lot done this week before getting sick. 

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Weekly Coupon Shopping

    3 Huggies Jumbo Packs: $10 each, get $10ECBs when you spend $30+.  Used $5/$30 CVS coupon from my email, $3/1 Pull-ups (House Party booklet), $2/1 Slip-Ons (SS 2/24/13) and $1.50/1 Any Huggies (SS 2/24/13), plus $10ECBs from last week.  Total spent: $8.50, got $10ECBs!

    Other Coupon Savings:
    • Holiday Gas Station: Used $0.20/gallon from My Cub Rewards program = saved about $3.00 on my gas.
    • Cub Foods: Found fruit snacks on clearance for $0.75 and juice on clearance for $1.23.  I went back with coupons to get more juice, but the clearance stickers had disappeared.
    • Starbucks: Used the $2.01 remaining on my gift card, and paid only $2.36 out of pocket for my mocha.

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Menu Plan Monday


    Monday: Loaded Baked Potatoes
    Tuesday: Burritos with Homemade Refried Beans
    Wednesday/Thursday: Crockpot Black Bean Lentil Soup
    Friday: Mushroom Broccoli Alfredo
    Saturday/Sunday: Black Bean Taco Salads

    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    What I'm Reading...

    Dear Mom On The iPhone, I Get It.  I have to admit that I sometimes judge moms on their phones, maybe because I don't have a fancy phone.  But I shouldn't. (Fried Okra)

    What Is The Best Thing You've Done To Grow Your Site? For me, I notice the most increase in traffic when I participate in linky parties.  But I'm not necessarily trying to grow a brand, so I don't have a site presence in social media either. (Money Saving Mom)

    How I Keep My (Natural) Beauty Routine Sane. (Simple Mom)

    10 Excuses We Make To Keep Our Clutter. (Simple Organized Living)

    The cookbook challenge mentioned in this Menu Plan Monday post sounds like a good idea! (I'm An Organizing Junkie)

    Sometimes It's Okay To Be A Control Freak. I hate how my husband folds towels. (The Happiest Mom)

    Energy Efficient vs. Green Friendly.  Old stuff holds up way better than new stuff. I hate planned obsolescence. (Kitchen Stewardship)

    Saying Goodbye To Google Reader And Alternatives For Your Feed Reader.  I've switched over to feedly for a trial run, and so far I like it well enough that it will be my replacement reader if google reader does in fact go away (though there are petitions in the works to save it). (Tech Your Way)

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    31 Day Organizational Challenge: Progress Report

    It's time for another update on the 31 Day Organizational Challenge! This week...was not very successful.

    • Purge the craft stuff!
    • List the toy boxes to try to sell them
    • Work on the hall closet
    You can see the toy boxes in this picture from the beginning of the challenge.  I posted them for sale in a moms group I am a part of, and one of my friends wanted to buy them.  Once we figure out how I can get them to her, they will be out of this space.  I already dealt with the gray tub of boxes and jars last week, so this stack is no more (well, soon enough anyways)!

    Another goal for the week was to continue to purge craft stuff.  I was able to give away the extra jars from the gray tub, as well as another box of random craft stuff, on Freecycle. (Excuse the terrible photo, but I almost forgot to take one before I headed out the door!)

    While I knew I wouldn't use the craft stuff that I gave away, there were also some projects I've been saving things for, that I just haven't gotten around to finishing yet.  So I started doing some of those too:

    Coffee Bean Candles

    Easter fridge magnets, which I made by putting stickers on random magnet pieces I had saved.

    And I started a couple more, but then...

    I had plans to get more done this week craft-wise, and then both of my kids and my husband got sick.  Ugh.  So a few pretty sleepless nights and attention-filled days have taken most of my time.  It happens.  I'll keep working on craft stuff next week, as well as clearing off my current "work station"/future changing table area.

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Weekly Coupon Shopping

    Gold Emblem Jelly Beans: $0.99, get $0.99ECBs.  Used $0.99ECBs from last time = paid $0.07 in tax, got $1.99ECBs ($1 from my green bag tag).

    I went back to CVS later in the week (I had printed off the wrong diaper coupons initially - it's been awhile since I've bought size 1 diapers, so I forgot they were "swaddlers", not "baby dry").

    3 Pampers Jumbo Packs: $10 each, get $10ECBs when you buy $30.  Used three $1.50/1 printables and $7.99ECBs = paid $17.51, got $10ECBs!

    Other Coupon Savings:
    • Caribou Coffee: Used $1 survey receipt (but forgot my mug and the trivia question - d'oh!)

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Iron Craft Challenge 5: Green

    This week's Iron Craft challenge was "green" (whether you picked the color green or something eco-friendly was up to you).  I chose to use some of my craft stash items to go for the eco-friendly option.

    This is another one of those "why didn't I just do this a long time ago?" projects.  I have been working on getting rid of some of my craft supplies and odds and ends that I have been saving, and this was a project that I had all of the components for, but I just hadn't done it yet.

    It took me all of two minutes: Dump old coffee beans into old pasta sauce jars.  Add old votive candles.  Realize that these old things have been sitting upstairs in the craft stash for 2 years.  Light candles and smell the lovely mixture of warm coffee beans and Christmas cookie candles.

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    Menu Plan Monday

    Do you ever have days where some things just get away from you?  Today is one of those days for me. Monday is normally laundry day, and my 3 loads or so are done by mid-afternoon (the second load is still in the dryer at 8:00pm).  I did manage to get food on the table for all of our meals today, but I didn't completely finish my menu plan.  Here's what I've got so far...


    Monday: Macaroni & Cheese
    Tuesday: Crockpot Beef & Broccoli for Jesse and me, leftover mac & cheese for the kids
    Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner at Church
    Thursday/Friday: Bean Soup, Biscuits or Rolls of some sort
    Saturday: TBD
    Sunday: TBD


    Sunday, March 10, 2013

    What I'm Reading...

    How To Change Your Life Without The Guilt Of Failure.  These are all good tips. (Money Saving Mom)

    There's Nothing Magical About A New Month. I've definitely fallen into this mindset sometimes. (Northern Cheapskate)

    It's Time To Attack The Craft Stash. I definitely need to work on this. (Simple Homemade)

    Introducing New Foods To Your Kids.  We almost never make special meals for the kids, but I do think it might be helpful to start having more side dishes, or meals with multiple parts, so that way they have something they like even if they don't like everything. (Food For My Family)

    A New Leaf Turned: My Experience (So Far) Going Hard-Core Paleo.  A few bloggers I follow have been doing a Whole30 food challenge, which cuts out grains and dairy for a month to reset your metabolism.  It's interesting to read about. (Simple Mom)

    Confessions Of A Cloth-Diaper Drop Out.  We kind of gave up on cloth diapers for Jonah once he reached size 6 in disposables, because the cloth ones kept leaking since he was just too big.  Thankfully, he is pretty much potty trained now, and Matthew has moved to the larger size of cloth diapers that we have.  We still do about half and half, which is enough for me for now.  I do want to look into getting some teeny weeny cloth diapers for when Hannah is born though. (Simple Kids)

    Truth About Fats: Baking With Healthy Fats.  Point number 2 taught me something new, about why you cream butter and sugar together in baking (it creates air bubbles) (Don't Waste The Crumbs)

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    31 Day Organizational Challenge: Progress Report

    It's time for a progress report on the 31 Day Organizational Challenge!  I've been trying to work up in our loft area a little bit each day.  Sometimes (most of the time), the kids are upstairs "helping" me too, so I never get much done at a time, but bit by bit I am making progress.

    Goals for this week:
    • Pack up Jesse's books
    • Go through hoodies/clothes in closet to donate
    • Start getting rid of craft stuff (whether by creating projects or giving away/trashing)
    So first came the books.   Here's the before shot of the majority of them again:

    I asked on Freecycle if anyone had a few small boxes for books, and was able to get some by the middle of the week.  I put a few more books on the bookshelf (nicely of course), and packed the rest up in the boxes, which I stacked in the corner of our storage area.

     Here's what that book corner looks like now:
    It's not anywhere near done yet (and I still haven't decided if the bookshelf itself will be staying out here - it will depend on how well Hannah's crib and everything fits).  But it's nice to not have stacks and stacks of books on the floor right as you walk up.

    Another goal was to go through these hoodies:
    I went through mine, picked a few to donate, and put the remaining couple in my closet in the bedroom.  My husband still has to go through his, although he did add some shirts to the basket in the closet to donate.  Once he picks which hoodies he wants to keep, the rest will go to our bedroom to clear out this closet.

    And finally, my other goal was to start getting rid of craft stuff.  I started with this bin of jars, boxes, and other odds and ends I was saving:
    And narrowed it down to this much smaller box of jars that I actually have plans for (plus a few Christmas tins that I'll use for gifts). 
    The small boxes went to live with my gift wrapping supplies, which is where they should have been in the first place. Some of the other jars I'll be offering on Freecycle, and if no one wants them, I'll recycle them.  The rest of the odds and ends got recycled.  As for what I saved, the applesauce jars are large enough for most mixes in jars, which I do fairly often for gifts.  The bottles to the right are from fancy lemonade, and I'm saving them for when I attempt to make my own vanilla extract.  The small jars with the red lids (yeast jars) will eventually store spices, but I don't have very many yet, so I haven't switched them over.

    Working in little increments is actually going really well for me.  I can think throughout the day of what part I want to tackle next, and then when I have a bit of time, I can quick go get something accomplished.  One of my next big steps will be to start Freecycling/trying to sell some of the stuff that we don't want, and not letting it sit around for too long.

    Next week my focus will be on purging craft stuff.  I'm definitely a pack rat, so I'm a bit excited and scared...

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Weekly Coupon Shopping

    I didn't have a coupon saving post last week because I actually didn't do any shopping! Even though I spent around $250 in groceries, I was still using up some Christmas gift cards, so I actually had some cash left over at the end of the month.  I was super excited about that!

    • 2 Angel Soft 12-pack Toilet Paper: $5.99 each.  Used two $1/1 printables and two $1/1 Target printables = paid $3.99 each.
    • 4 M&Ms: $2.89 each.  Used two $1.50/2 printables and two $1.50/2 Target printables = paid $5.56/4 or $1.39 each!
    • I also used some of the extra grocery money to buy a set of 4 Thomas the Tank Engine puzzles ($8.99) and Thomas underwear ($9.99) for Jonah, since we are in the middle of potty training.
    • 2 Right Guard Deoderant: 2/$6, get $1ECBs when you buy 2.  Used two $2/1 printables (no longer available) = paid $2, got $1ECBs.
    • Gold Emblem Jelly Beans: $0.99, get $0.99ECBs.
    • Used $1ECBs from last time = paid $2.51, got $1.99ECBs.

    Other Coupon Savings
    • Holiday Gas Station: I finally signed up for the Cub Rewards program (and found out you can earn cents off with your WIC vouchers too!), so I saved $0.10 per gallon from that, a total of $1.62.  I should have signed up for this a long time ago...
    • Best Buy: $15 in rewards certificates from taking daily polls on their facebook app.  I bought ink for our printer, and spent $12.87 instead of $28. 
    • Target: 2 Alexia bags of fries: $3.06 each.  Used two $2.50/1 printables (no longer available) = paid $0.56 each!

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Menu Plan Monday

    A steaming hot crockpot of taco beans cooking up for tonight's dinner and for another batch of chili for lunches.

    I have definitely fallen into a lunchtime rut, so I'm going to work on finding new ideas for lunches over the next few weeks.  They have to be quick to prepare, and easy to eat, because we usually get to lunchtime and everyone is ready for a nap already.


    Monday: Taco Beans & Rice
    Tuesday: Dinner at a debate tournament where Jesse will be judging
    Wednesday/Thursday: Slow Cooker Jamaican Red Bean Stew, Mini Corn Muffins (from the freezer)
    Friday/Saturday: Cheesy Veggies and Rice, Fruit
    Sunday: Homemade Pizza

    • Homemade Rice Krispie Treats (made from some leftover semi-stale Cheerios and marshmallows that have been in the cupboard for a long time)
    • Another new recipe from my Granola Bar Pinterest board
    • Apples
    • Oranges
    • Canned Peaches, Pears, and Pineapple
    • Annie's Bunnies

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    What I'm Reading...

    The Extraordinary Science Of Addictive Junk Food.  Because I like both food information and marketing, I really enjoyed this article. (NY Times via Simple Mom)

    Do Something With Grains. We're somewhere in the range of steps 2 and 3. (Kitchen Stewardship)

    5 Tips To Waste Less In The Kitchen.  #3 is where we sometimes fail. (Money Saving Mom)

    What Is "Simple Living", Anyway? (Simple Mom)

    Green Living: Protecting Your Family vs. Protecting The Environment. (Green Your Way)

    Different Approaches To Paying Off Debt.  I'm definitely a fan of the snowball method, but the other ones have their pros too. (Northern Cheapskate)

    Crafting To A Deadline.  Deadlines definitely help me get more done - otherwise, I tend to default to less productive hobbies (especially tv and Internet time sucks). (Just Crafty Enough)

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    31 Day Organizational Challenge: Before Pictures

    You all know I love a good challenge, especially when it relates to improving some aspect of my life.  And, as luck would have it, the 31 Day Organizational Challenge from I'm An Organizing Junkie will do just that!  In our current rental house, we have a little loft area at the top of the stairs before you get to the master bedroom.  That space is currently home to multiple things:
    • My craft supplies and "work area" (which I have never actually used for working because it's covered with stuff, and it's inconvenient to be up away from everyone else on the main floor)
    • Extra book storage
    • My Grandma's old sewing machine table
    • Extra jars and boxes for projects and wrapping supplies
    • Clothes and bedding we've gotten for baby #3
    • Miscellaneous overflow
    However, in May, baby Hannah will need a place to sleep, and a spot for clothing.  We want her close to, but not in, our room, so that area will turn into her bedroom, while still somehow managing to hold at least some of the other stuff.  We can do this!  I have ideas and plans, and a desire to start nesting.  I just need something to motivate me to start.  Enter this challenge!

    My goals for this space are:
    • To get Hannah's crib set up with bedding (which means playing musical beds with our two sons, Jonah and Matthew)
    • To find a small dresser or shelving system to store Hannah's clothes
    • To find a place to store Jesse's books neatly until he moves into his new office at work (sometime this summer)
    • To pare down my craft supplies and maybe move them into the closet (which means moving other things out of the closet)
    • To change my "work space" into a changing area/diaper storage for Hannah
    Now, enough with the reading, let's get to the pictures!

    As you get to the top of the stairs, this is what you see.  Piles of books.  Even the ones on the shelf are messy.  Jesse moved from having a large office at the church where he worked, to having a small shared office at the school where he now works, but he should have his own office come summertime.  For now, however, the overflow landed here.  And because he's busy with schoolwork and teacher work, these stacks keep getting worse as he grabs things he needs.  I also have no idea what's even in the two gray bins behind the stacks.  I think (?) it's extra binders and office supply stuff.

    Next to Jesse's corner is my Grandma's sewing table.  One day I would love to pop this open and see how it works.  For now, it's a nice table, but it's become a landing zone for craft supplies and projects in progress.  Underneath is a crate of piano music, which I wish I used more often.  One day I will have a piano!

    In the other corner is my craft shelf.  Things are separated in baby wipe containers and boxes, but it still looks messy to me.  I also know I have far too many things I have been saving because they might be good for projects someday.  Part of my plan is to pare down my craft supplies this month.

    We switched from toy boxes in the boys' room, and they ended up here.  The gray bin is full of jars and boxes and containers that I've saved for mailing things, for mixes in jars, and for projects.  I need to see what is actually useful in here.  The boxes in front are clothes and bedding for Hannah, which need a dresser of some sort.

    Here's a good look at all of it.  I see this on my way to the bedroom every day.  

    On the other side of the loft area (the stairs are off to the right in this picture) is my "craft work area", also known as "where I set things down to put away later".  This space has potential to be an awesome work space, but the reality is that I would rather be by my family downstairs than working up here.  I do think it will make a good diaper changing and storage area for some of Hannah's things.

    And finally, the upstairs hall closet.  Right now, we have a large collection of sweatshirts.  Why we have so many, I don't know.  My wedding dress is hiding off to the right as well, and the shelves on the left hold our board games and a few other random things.  I think I will probably use this space to store some of my craft stuff, so there is room for Hannah's bed out in the main part of the loft.
    This loft area wasn't always this messy.  However, after we discovered we couldn't store anything in our basement (mold problems), a lot got dumped up here.  And I think because I knew we would be working on this space for Hannah eventually, I just kind of kept leaving it alone.  No more!  Over the next few weeks I'll be clearing out a lot of stuff, and neatly organizing the rest.  Look for more updates soon!

    March Goals

    • Make tortillas from scratch.
    • Switch to plain yogurt.
    • Continue granola bar search.
    • Participate in another (hopefully bigger!) busy bag exchange.
    • Do something fun for St. Patrick's Day.
    • Do something fun for Easter.
    • Celebrate Matthew's 2nd birthday!
    • Fix the rip in our older couch.
    • Finish the Thomas the Tank Engine magnets I started for the kids.
    • Consistently read my devotion every day.
    • Organize our upstairs loft area to make room for Hannah's crib and clothing.