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We have been on a huge spring cleaning rush over here. After five years of just shoving things higher and higher out of the reach of small hands, we find ourselves just living in piles of stuff. I don’t need to share with you how to spring clean because you all know how to do that right?

But, what I am going to share with you is this nifty little project that came about from our ventures with spring cleaning. Two years ago my husband and I introduced the girls to one of our favorite beaches. My husband grew up playing on the sandy shores of Robert Moses State Park, and it was my favorite when we lived on Long Island for a few years. During our trip with our kids we filled their little pails with an abundance of sea shells.

The kids have played with those shells for two years. Many a stray shell can now be found in the far flung reaches of the play room, or in the deep abyss of a couch. Out of two tall beach buckets only a handful of precious shells remain. I want to keep them as a keepsake, but I don’t really have a home for them. That is until we recycled this old glass jar I found while cleaning out our spice cupboard. Coincidentally, our sea shells have found a home in an old sea salt jar. How fitting right?

salt jar

First we washed the jar and removed the label. My go to for removing labels is really hot soapy water. Allow your jar to soak for about 10 minutes before peeling off the paper. Then you can scrape or scrub off the remaining glue. If it is still sticky then just allow to soak a little more.

salt jar 2

Next, I rounded up the remaining shells I want to keep and added to the jar.

shells

shells in jar 2

Can you believe these are all the shells left after bringing home two buckets worth? Well, with little girls who like to play beach in every room of the house, or take them outside so the bugs can have a beach too, I’m not surprised. But, at least these are all my favorites.

I thought it would be really cool to some how include a picture of us from that day. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of all four of us together. But, I did find a picture of what the beach looked like that day! So, I ran it through an online photo editor (PicMonkey) and added the date and details of the trip to the center of the picture. I ordered it online and picked up at CVS Pharmacy for $0.31. I cut it into an oval shape and tucked it inside the jar.

jar with shells

How awesome is this? A SUPER cheap and very personal keepsake of our very first trip to the beach together! When have you ever found a souvenir for $0.31 cents??! Now, our memories are part of our decor. We can enjoy them all the time and I don’t have to worry about finding them scattered around the house. Woo hoo!

This started me thinking about how often we just grab souvenirs from the gift store on any of our trips or vacations. My kids typically gravitate to the cheap plastic stuff which usually ends up in my garbage can. Not only is that a waste of money, but there’s no personal connection to the trip (except for our photos of course). I’m going to have to get creative with making our own souvenirs from now on. It’s a great way to keep our cherished moments alive well after our vacation ends.

Have you ever made your own souvenirs from a trip? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Closet

Archeological Dig Of A Woman’s Closet

Cleaning out a person’s closet is like going on an archeological dig. You can find out what that person valued, what they did, what they wore, and what they liked, but there is a reason why most of us rarely take the time to thoroughly clean out our closets. It’s simple. We just don’t want to deal with who we were. The things that make us who we are can usually be pointed to, used daily and found easily, but who we were, well that stuff we hide away because it’s somehow comforting to simultaneously hold onto and hide from sight.

The Deadliest Dust Bunnies

If you follow my posts, you know that I recently remodeled my basement, turning it into a master bedroom. While it took the help of two men and one day to move the entirety of the room, I’m on day four of cleaning out the closet of our old bedroom. It has been a frightening and weary experience. I have been attacked by dust bunnies and haunted by nostalgia. It seems every time a person in my family dies my husband and I inherit a box of memorabilia we don’t know what to do with so it goes into the closet. It’s a sad reality that we have held onto things that haven’t seen the light of day in years.

The Past Doesn’t Look Good On You

My husband has his an old book bag and graduation gown from high school. For me, as I imagine it is with most women, it’s those damn skinny jeans. You know the ones you were so proud you could once fit into, but have sadly sat in your closet for years. Sometimes “skinny jeans” is just synonymous with the clothes you used to fit into but don’t anymore.

The SAHM Uniform

For me it’s also the business suits that have collected dust for the last three years in favor of the SAHM uniform of sweatshirts and yoga pants. Some would call it sloppy, but hey you never see a painter show up to your house in a three piece suit for a reason. If I know I’m going to get baby food, spit up and other bodily fluids on me I’m not stepping into panty hose and a pencil skirt. I have no idea when I’m going back to the world of office work so there’s no sense holding onto clothes I don’t need.

Business Suits & Skinny Jeans

I know why we have such a hard time letting go of those skinny jeans. It’s because it was the time we felt best about ourselves. For me it was working my way down to a goal weight after two kids. The truth is we never seem to just be happy right where we’re at and I think I’ve figured out why. How in the hell can you be happy with where you’re at if you are constantly struck in the face by where you’re not. My closet was busting full of clothes and I can safely say after weeding out business suits, maternity clothes and the “skinny clothes” I’m left with a third of the wardrobe.

Some part of me worries that if left unchecked it would be so much easier to just let myself fall into complacency. It’s not hurting anyone to let those skinny jeans rot in my closet. We did build a pretty big one in our new room after all and they would fit. But I think in a way it is hurting me. Every time I can’t find clothes that fit it makes me feel defeated.

Starting A “Sayonara Skinny Jeans” Revolution

So though I’m on day four of the job from hell, cleaning out my closet is therapeutic. I have to confront who I was and who I am and the only way to move forward is without all the “what I’m not” items.

So fight off the dust bunnies and nostalgia ladies because they are keeping you from your destiny. Take a cue from me. Though I debated MANY times, ultimately I packed up all the suits and skinny jeans to donate. Maybe another woman will find her “what I am now” jeans at the Salvation Army. If it helps her get rid of her “what I’m not” clothes then I’m doing a public service.

Skinny Jeans

So sayonara skinny jeans. I’ll just learn to live without the idea of you. I’ll learn to trade the “ideal” for the “real.” I’ll slip on my larger size jeans and I’ll stop wondering if I’ll ever be the size I used to be. I’ll remember that my body created three amazing little people and show it a little bit of respect. My weight may fluctuate, but the way I feel about my body shouldn’t. It should never come down to looking at those damn skinny jeans. Without them in my closet, I’m finally free to just love me right where I’m at.

So ladies, who is with me? Who is FINALLY ready to donate those “skinny jeans” rotting away in the back of the closet?

Spring is finally here! The temps haven’t broken 50 degrees just yet, but we have had two park play dates so far. The fresh air and the tiny bit of sunshine just feels so good! Dear summer heat I am ready whenever you are!

You may, or may not, be making plans for spring cleaning. I like to try to get it all done before the sun shines and everything melts so I can be outside the very first day it warms up. However, I suffer from delusions of grandeur. I start out thinking I’ll move through my cleaning cycle with Martha Stewart-like precision, but then I end up just opening the windows and spritzing air freshener  for a “clean effect.” Whatever…

Easter 2015 006

I do however, try to tidy up the important and most used areas of our home. Today that spot is our art cart! We don’t need to spend a ton of time spiffing up the art storage, but spending a few minutes organizing and tidying up will pay off later when we find ourselves inside for a day.

Don’t have an art cart? Go get one! Where else are you going to store your sequins, dryer lint and toilet paper tubes for all your Pinterest projects? Just a simple box to put all your crafty/arty items in works!

1. Clean out all the broken crayons, dried up makers and sharpened up the pencils. Each item gets its own box so little hands can take out of the big drawer when needed.

Easter 2015 007

2. Toss all the old papers and drawings that are not keepers (sorry kids!). I’m talking all the crumpled pieces of scrap paper, or the pieces of paper with one scribbled line. Group all the same paper with the same paper for a cleaner look.

Easter 2015 008

3. Toss out any dried up paints, glue or stray random pieces.

Easter 2015 010

4. Assess which items need to be replaced.

5. Decide if you need any extra storage containers.

 

Not sure what to keep on hand for quick art projects? Stop by your local dollar store or craft store and search the dollar bins for pre-made art projects;  from DIY photo frames to DIY painted ceramics there are plenty of fun little things to stash away for a rainy day.

We like to keep brown paper lunch bags on hand to decorate in a pinch and use in the back yard for a simple treasure hunt. Shaving cream and food coloring makes a really quick sensory project for little ones. There are entire Pinterest boards dedicated to the thousands of different ways to use pipe cleaners! Keep plenty of those on hand too!

Keeping a fully stocked (and tidy) art cart will allow your kids to use their imagination and really get creative!

 

Other things to keep on hand for instant creativity:

Washable paints

Washable markers

Playdough

Beads or dried pasta shapes

Craft sticks

Seasonal stickers

Do-a-dot markers (dot paints)

Construction paper

White glue

Plain paper plates

A handful of recycled magazines for collages

 

Some great sites for free or inexpensive art supply ideas:

Dollar Store Art Supplies

Make your own art supplies:

Free label printable

11 Great Art Materials for Toddlers

 

Anyone else hear about this new fad called “spring cleaning?” It’s where you clean stuff simply because the season has changed?  It’s all the rage in my house right now. We are pulling apart closets and cleaning in corners we didn’t even know we had. It all started because I was tired of my ugly wardrobe. I don’t know about you but I am kind of over selecting outfits based on their ability to camouflage snot stains and glitter.

Before kids if something didn’t fit I would just go buy something new. I didn’t worry about labels like, “machine washable,” or “dry clean only.”  I had plenty of stylish clothing to wear to work, out with friends and while lounging at home. Now, I can barely tell those outfits apart. So, I decided to spring clean my wardrobe.

I started by thinning out the clothes I could no longer wear based on size, location of stains and tatters. This left me with a sparse amount to work with, but I’m a creative mom! I can make toddlers believe terrible things will happen if they don’t eat their peas!

Next, I coordinated a few outfits to have at the ready for moments beyond the standard issue mom uniform (t-shirt, jeans and sneakers).  I waste so much time over thinking and rethinking an outfit before leaving the house. Having outfits I can just grab and go saves me from all that!

 

My sparse, but clean ensembles

My sparse, but clean ensembles

I layered accessories right on the hanger so I have a complete outfit.

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

When I finished, I realized my makeup bag could use a little rehab. I have some “vintage” pieces in there it was time to let go of.  I don’t have a lot of time for make-up, but there are days I want a casual look. My new dash out the door (can’t tell I didn’t sleep a wink) look consists of a tinted moisturizer with an SPF, cream eye shadow I smear on with my finger, mascara and lip balm. Kiss My Face Lip TreatMint is  the only lip balm I wear ever ! Feels great and the SPF covers me for play dates at the park!

Streamlined make up routine

Streamlined make up routine

After I cleaned everything up I realized my nails looked shabby too. It seems the mani/pedi is the first thing to get the boot when moms go on a budget. A friend of mine shared her secret for a one minute manicure- press on nails. I know sounds really tacky (no pun intended). But, not only did my husband think I spent big bucks on a manicure, I also got a lot of compliments from friends and strangers. These are great for date night, mom’s night, grocery shopping, or whatever. I don’t have to find time to get out to the salon. No dry time! No smudging!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Three and a half years into the mom gig and I realize how easy it is to get sucked into a wardrobe rut. It’s sad how little I’ve invested in my appearance due to time and feeling overwhelmed. Now I have a simple, clean wardrobe to select from and I gain a few extra minutes in my day with a simplified routine.

What does your mom routine look like? What are some tips for keeping your wardrobe current?

 

 

Our homes may come in different shapes, sizes and price ranges, but one universal truth is that we all have clutter. That stuff that creeps up, hangs around and by some bizarre trick of nature seems to multiply. With a new baby coming in a few months, I’m realizing that with all the gear and things this new little person is bringing into my house I truly have to cut the clutter and make room for the people in my house.  Here are 4 tips to help kick clutter to the curb.

1. Separate The Sentimental – When I was younger we weren’t encouraged to get rid of our excess stuff because my mother believed everything was sentimental. Now I’m learning to figure out what is sentimental and what is just stuff. Yesterday I donated my wedding dress (GASP) to a photographer friend who is going to turn it into a new creation. I know what you’re thinking- “how is that not sentimental?” If I’ve learned anything in life, I’ve learned that memories do not live inside of things, but inside of us. My wedding day was one of the best of my life, but was it really necessary to keep a dress I wore once in the back of my closet for the rest of my life? Nope, especially since I have tons of great photos of it. At least now it’ll get a chance to see the light of day again and maybe make someone else happy in the process.

Honoring Lost Loved Ones

What is sentimental then? For me, it’s those few special items that really remind me of lost loved ones. Unfortunately I have a LOT of those items collecting in my closets right now. I hope to buy some shadow boxes and display them with some photos of those family members who have passed. If it doesn’t fit, I’ll take a photo of an item that meant a lot to that loved one. At least they would get looked at and not forgotten about.

Make Kids Part Of The Process

I’ve also taught my kids to make decisions when getting rid of their old toys. It took a good four hours, but every toy has been gone though, and put in it’s place – in a toy box, in a box for the new baby, consigned or thrown out. I think it’s important that they see value as something they use, not something they own – big difference. Before birthdays and major gift-giving holidays is a great time to do this. It also gives you some perspective on how much your kids already have before you embark on a shopping spree.
Image

Thanks to some decluttering I can actually close toy boxes now and keep the floor clear (most of the time anyway).

2. Value Is Relative – Another lesson I’ve learned is to forget about what an item cost me. The cold fact is that once you take something home from the store it’ll never be worth that purchase price to anyone else. This is also a good rule to remember when making those purchases in the first place. So when clearing out the clutter, price it fairly (start at half off retail) and be willing to donate it if it doesn’t sell.

One Woman’s Trash…

I had a glider with an arm that needed a screw and once my son wasn’t a baby anymore it was taking up much-needed real estate in my house. It would have cost me money to throw it out so I listed it on Freecycle.org. A lady came and picked it up at the end of my driveway within a day and wrote me the sweetest e-mail thanking me for something that would have ended up as trash, but which she was thrilled to have.

3. Use The One In Two Out Rule – You’ve probably heard this rule to taming clutter before, but it goes for every one item you bring into your house you should take two out. Since acquiring things is so much easier than getting rid of them it’s also a great rule to keep in mind when shopping. My husband recently asked to purchase some fishing gear that is not in the budget and he offered to sell his brand new power washer (still sitting unused in the box) in order to get it. It was given to him and he really wanted it, but he has come to see that he’ll most likely never use it and I’m proud of him for learning to let go of something he won’t use for something that he will. Now to list that along with at least a half-dozen other thing in my basement. Craigslist.org here I come.

4. Don’t Let It Live Forever – This baby is a blessing in more ways than one. I really need to renovate my finished basement into a master bedroom so I can’t afford to let the clutter live down there for too much longer. It’s a great idea to set a time limit like a year. If you haven’t touched something in a year it’s probably time to let it go. A cool trick with clothes is to hang all your hangers facing out and then when you’ve worn something rehang it with the hanger facing in. At the end of a year, any item still hanging on the out hangers can go.

Many towns hold spring clean up days so this could be a great deadline for your clutter. If you can’t donate it, sell it or give it to someone by that date then throw it out. Check with your town about times, locations and limits on what you can throw out.

How do you tame the clutter in your house?

What is it about this season that makes me want to clean my whole house, cut my hair  and generally start to change everything in my life? I don’t  think that we should make our new years resolutions in January, I don’t start making any changes until now.  I love spring and after a long winter everything seems bright and shiny (maybe not, but I like to imagine the world actually sparkles). Spring is a time to celebrate renewal and we have a great offer if you are ready to make a few changes for yourself. If you are looking for a new look click here or if you are ready to tackle spring cleaning and decorate you house we have some great pieces of art you could win. Go get your spring on.

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