Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, April 17, 2015


One of the questions I'm asked most often is this: How do you keep everything organized and functional for a big family? Or basically: How do you keep from drowning in stuff? ha ha

Well, here is my number one, shocking, genius tip for you: Don't buy the stuff in the first place. (If it's gifted but just doesn't suit your family's needs, pass it along without guilt.)

Let's talk kitchen. I do not have tons of storage in this kitchen so it's imperative that I only hang onto what I love and what works for us. I simply don't have extra drawers for seldom-used items. One thing that does threaten to sink me on occasion is this: party stuff, the candles, decorations, color gels, etc... A long time ago I put all these things in two separate containers (with lids) and I keep them on a handy shelf in the basement. They're there when I need them but not cluttering up my kitchen when I don't.

I wrote this post on organizing just shortly after moving here. Some things in our kitchen look a little different now, but the storage/organization parts look almost exactly the same. I think my favorite tip from this post is the storage capabilities of adding hooks to the insides of cabinet doors. It is THE perfect solution for awkwardly-sized or shaped items that you just don't want taking up space in a drawer; plus, you no longer have to hunt them down and fish them out- they're right there where you need them!

Think outside the box a little when it comes to organizing and storing items. One of the nice surprises in moving here was that the kids' rooms have huge closets, some even with wide shelves on the sides. Since the linen closet has become the designated medicine cabinet, bathroom items/towel storage, and holds most of my cleaning supplies, all the sheets and blankets had to go somewhere else. They are now stored on two of the shelves in one of the kid's rooms, easily accessible and perfectly organized. Don't worry, his closet is as big as mine (and I have to share half!) and he has plenty of his "own" shelves so he doesn't feel infringed upon in the least.  ;)

Look around for those spare areas that can be put to good use. They work wonders in our busy, full household. And don't neglect empty wall space, especially in a basement or garage. Hooks and shelves on these walls are often the workhorse to getting and staying organized, and getting things up and off the floors. Win win. This summer we're revamping our garage storage, so I'll share some before and after photos when we're done; having done this at our old house, I can tell you what a difference having a good system made.

I've got some laundry tips to help you stay organized.

I'm pretty ruthless with toys and sentimental papers. I do have one drawer filled to the brim with special poems, pictures and love notes from my children. Plus I have a few large folders that holds some of their art. But other than that, I part with it. It's the memory I want to hang onto, not the actual item, so I can let it go. (Another great benefit of using a blog as a family journal- it truly helps me keep a record of things that might otherwise have been forgotten.) I used to take pictures of their artwork but have since stopped doing that; now I snap a photo of them holding whatever thing they made or created, if we're not planning on keeping it forever. That way I have both the memory and the visual memento, in more manageable form.

This probably sounds like everything in my house is perfectly situated, where there are no junk drawers or hidden piles of things in the basement I just don't want to deal with... NOT AT ALL. My sewing stuff has the power to take over a room (or two!), the hobbies/sports threaten to sink me on a weekly if not daily basis, there are gadgets that I like to have in my kitchen after deciding that I really don't have a need for them. It's stuff, and lots of it!

Again, I try to be diligent about what I purchase. Bringing it back to tip #1, I guess. Just a couple weeks ago, I was staring into the eyes of the cutest little lavender bunny rabbit, and I knew Isabelle would loooooove it. It was only a few dollars and I snatched it up. But then I got thinking about all the toys she already has, how many of them don't seem special or unique simply because of the sheer volume, and how we can't adequately fit the ones we've already got. There may also be issues about picking up but I won't throw her under the bus about that, ha. So I put the bunny back on the shelf. I'm sure she would have loved getting it in her basket, she would play with it every day...for a while. But then what? Just another toy to find a place for. Her father and I are trying to teach her - and all our children- that the stuff of life isn't what's most important, and it's okay to say no to stuff. Better than okay, even. Tough lesson for a kid, I know, but we've got to start somewhere.

I'm not at all saying that we shouldn't buy toys and things ever again. I just want the things we do spend our money and attention on to matter. I think there's a big difference. It certainly impacts our day-to-day in terms of organization, too.

Okay, now I'm off to make mini-chip pancakes for my lovelies, today is Cookie Friday (woot!) and I promised them all Crepes with Berries & Cream for dessert tonight. Sugar overload, I tell you. We'll have to run laps later.  =)

Perfect Pancakes (adapted to feed 5-7 people)
WHOA! I just looked through my recipes and saw that I don't have our favorite pancakes blogged...I will have to remedy that! So enjoy this blueberry one...

Double Cocoa Dream Cookies

To see my other kitchen update posts, click HERE and HERE.

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