Valentine’s Day has dramatically changed for us over the years. From the days of booking the hottest restaurant in downtown Chicago to wiping the baby spit up off of my clothes before eating dinner (that’s parenthood?!). As we’ve gotten older and a little bit more domestic, nothing made me realize this transition more than taking a look at our Valentine’s Day plans!

Easy and fun ways to celebrate Valentines Day with the kids! A delicious meal, pink lighting and a little dance party will make for a fun family evening!

Our quiet dinner at home may seem like the easy way to celebrate Valentine’s Day; yet, cooking a nice meal can be a little hectic for families with kids.

You all know I love finding those simple little tricks & tips to make life easier. Whether it’s apps on my phone or cutting down on my laundry routine, I find a ridiculous amount of joy in making daily tasks simpler.

So over the summer, we incorporated smart home technology in to our house with Hive. When we first started, I was pretty eager to find ways to utilize this technology to make to make life a little easier after the birth of our son, Declan. Yet, I wasn’t exactly sure how we would incorporate it all in to everyday life. But by this past fall, we were hooked. Between preparing our home for fall and even helping with the daily light savings transition, the Hive smart home technology was a smart solution for us (pun intended 😊).

Are you too celebrating Valentine’s Day at home with the kids? Here’s some of the fun ways that we’re utilizing our smart home technology for a simple, yet festive family evening:

Cooking 

Let’s be real, cooking a nice meal while watching a very active 9-month-old isn’t an easy task. It’s even more challenging when you’re trying a new fancy recipe. My rule for any nice dinner is to incorporate ONE fancy recipe and keep the rest of the meal simple. Whether that means a new side, a fancy dessert or an expensive piece of meat. In the past I would try to throw down all the stops making a killer 4 course meal and would end up with each course slightly underwhelming.

Chasing a toddler around the house means never really giving my FULL attention to cooking. Well that’s the excuse I’m giving for my less than stealer meals anyway!

Joking aside, being able to control our appliances remotely allows me get dinner completed while Declan insists on climbing the stairs.

Using smart home automation to create a perfect Valentines Day!

Using the Hive Active Plug, I’m able to check-in and control kitchen appliances from every room in our home from my phone. #thekidneversitsstill

The slow cooker gets turned off in time (what’s worse than a burnt slow cooker meal???) and the cappuccino maker is turned on while I’m following Declan up the stairs.

For special occasions I whip out our electronic fondue maker. I plug it in earlier in the day and heat it up right before Joe comes up form work via my Hive app, making the perfect fondue while playing with Declan in the family room!

Colored lights are a perfect addition to our Valentines Day decorations

Lights

All those fun decorations that I used to put up (err… here, here and here) are permanently stored in our closet until Declan learns to not be so destructive. (So when he’s 18?) Instead, we had a bunch of fun ‘decorating’ the house with Valentine’s Day colored lighting. Declan got a kick out of the changing colored lights. (We used the Hive Active Color-Changing Lights) It’s actually a really easy and fun idea for all the holidays. (Looking at you Saint Patrick’s Day).

Color-changing Hive Active Lights let you choose from 16 million colors to find the exact hue you’re looking for. (Yep, 16 million)

Side note: we also use Hive Active Lights to adjust the brightness on a daily basis. In attempt to get Declan in to ‘sleeping mode’, we dim all the lights an hour before it’s time to go to bed.

Changing light bulbs to make a colorful display for Valentines Day!

Music

Typically, when Joe comes home from work, he enters the house as Reagan (our rambunctious Doberman puppy) is running around, Declan is getting in to his fussy evening phase and I’m struggling to balance both while attempting not be burn dinner. Needless to say, it’s not exactly the most relaxing atmosphere to come home to.

A fun surprise that Declan and I did for Joe was to use our Hive Door Sensor to set the music on our Alexa and adjust our entry way lights to turn on as the front door opens. Nothing says ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ like pink lighting and Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ playing as you walk through the front door 😊.

Utilizing smart home automation for amazing Valentines Day decorations!

Temperature 

Earlier this year, we also installed the Hive Active Thermostat on our main floor. This means I’m in complete control of the temperature in our house (much to Joe’s dismay) with a touch of a button and will keep it at a toasty 75 degrees! Perfect for a cold winter February night!

crank up the thermostat on Valentines Day!

While we may not be rocking the late night hot spots this Valentine’s Day, I’m excited for a relatively easy festive night in with the family!

If you’ve been considering home automation, now is a great time. Use the code HIVEVALENTINE to receive $40 off the Hive Starter Pack!

Hive’s got several different packages to fit exactly what you’re looking for:

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hive. The opinions and text are all mine.


 

Follow:
Share:

We’re midway through the month and I’m already starting to slack on my New Year’s resolutions. Luckily (or not!?), I’m in good company as the average New Year’s resolution only lasts 11 days. Life gets busy and what seems like the ‘I must accomplish this calendar year’ turns in to more of an inconvenience.

One of my goals for this year is to take better care of myself and create sustainable morning beauty routine. Nothing crazy, but the wash your face every day, drink water, go to bed on time. You know, the essentials that are easy to slack on. Any time I’m busy, up against a deadline or travel (for work or personal), I struggle with keeping my routine.

So this year I’m going back to basics and making things easier. No crazy, over the top, hard to accomplish goals. Just doing things that I should have been doing all along. Today I’m excited to partner with Olay at Sam’s Club to give to show you how I’m simplifying my morning beauty routine!

Before I established my routine, I really needed to determine what beauty products I even needed. My toiletries were getting OUT OF CONTORL. I had so many in my cabinet, many that I wasn’t even using and one too many half full bottles that I had forgotten about.

Olay has a really cool online tool called the Olay Skin Advisor Tool that helps you pick the right products for your face. In order to give you the best advice the tool takes a photo of your face (straight from your computer) and after answering a couple questions you’ll be provided a list of products and tips for great skincare.

This takes the guessing out of which products will & won’t work and customizes a skin regimen – all based on a selfie and a couple questions! I learned that I need to be moisturizing a LOT more. (Likely needing to drink more water too, but that’s another story.)

The coolest (or scariest) part is the site uses that photo of your face to show your “skin age.”

All the Olay products on the tool are available at Sam’s Club!

Now with products in hand, here’s my new SIMPLE morning beauty routine.

There are a couple things I do in the evening for an easy morning

Shower at night Now I know this isn’t for everyone, but it has really helped me simplify my morning beauty routine. Plus, it lets me SLEEP in just a little bit longer. Who doesn’t love that?

Drinking water A little tip I’ve started doing is to fill up a water bottle and place it on my night stand before I go to bed. Then first thing in the morning when I wake up, I can quickly drink my first glass of water.

Now on to the morning:

Wake up at the same time each day I like to get up early. Well, in theory. When that alarm clock goes off it’s another story. I try to get up by 6am most mornings, so I can get ready for the day, possibly do a quick workout or blogging work before Declan wakes up at 7am. Having an hour to myself before he wakes up has proven to be motivation enough.

Storage Solutions Remember those shower caddies we all used in college to store all our beauty supplies? I’ve been putting all my products in a shower caddy for YEARS now, but recently took it up a notch. I now use two toiletry bags for my daily routine (one for makeup and one for beauty products …. lots of moisturizer 🙂 ). This system makes it easy to use any bathroom in our house to get ready in the morning. It also really helps me streamline my beauty products. Only products used daily go in the bags.

The right products Using the toiletry bags really reinforces the idea of just having the products you really want on hand. When I was at Sams Club I stocked up on moisturizers and eye cream based on the results of my Olay Skin Advisor Tool and keep them in my toiletry bag for daily use.

Drink green tea Now I LOVE my cup of coffee (errr pot of coffee). While I’m not a huge tea drinker (hello team coffee), I know that green tea has a lot of health benefits. So, I substitute one cup of coffee for green tea each morning.

That’s it! That’s my morning beauty routine. I find that if I can keep this up for a couple months then I’ll commit to other beauty regimens. I’ve learned from experience that having too many goals can back fire on me, so I’m starting the year off simple!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Olay at Sam’s Club. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Follow:
Share:

Before I created our baby registry, I researched. I googled. I asked. At times, it felt like I prepared more for our baby registry than I had for the SATs. It was overwhelming. Everything seemed both necessary and unnecessary to this rookie mom to be.

The idea of baby supplies becoming decorations in our home was something I swore would never happen. If I could sum up my thoughts on baby items in a couple quotes it would be less is more, multi-purpose and foldable.

Less is more: babies, especially newborns, grow so quickly which means they not only grow out of their clothes quickly, they also grow out of all the other items you buy for them. My son at 4 months was already sick of being strapped in to a bouncer and preferred scooting around on the floor.

Multi-purpose: More and more baby items nowadays solve for more than one need. Many pack & plays have bassinets on top. Jumpers transition in to toddler tables. Carriers hold baby’s newborn to 1 years old.

Foldable: That bouncer that my son grew out of at 4 months old now needed to be stored in the closet for our next child. I was grinning ear to ear as I folded it up and stored neatly in our closet, barely taking up any space. Same goes for the bathtub we purchased. It easily folds up and fits into the cabinet under the sink in between baths.

Given my baby registry words to live by, there were quite a few items that I chose not to register for. Now what to buy and what not to buy seems to be a contentious topic. What one person wishes they hadn’t bought is another persons saving grace. So take this list with a grain of salt. Ask your friends. Do your research. Just don’t overbuy 🙂 .

Here’s the items I did NOT register for

(OR only registered for very few)

1 Blankets // Yes, a baby needs blankets. But people WILL get you blankets whether you register for them or not. I’m not sure what it is about baby blankets, but people love to buy them! So don’t worry about registering for them. You’ll still get them. Having a large supply of blankets could sound nice in theory, but quickly become unnecessary.

2 Baby Clothes // Now popular opinion is that girls’ clothes are just so much more fun to buy than boys. But regardless of the gender, friends and family will buy you clothes! Especially smaller sizes. So if you do register for clothing, opt for outfits that are at least 3 month size.

3 Sound Machine // Now some babies love these and can only fall asleep listening to the soothing sound a running water. I took a chance that Delcan wouldn’t be one of those kids. But better safe than sorry, I downloaded the app Craddle on both my iphone and ipad. There’s many sound machine type apps, like Craddle, to choose from. I was so glad I went this route. I had a portable sound machine if I was in a jam, but had one less thing to plug in to the nursery.

4 Wipe Warmer // I’ve heard mixed opinions on the wipe warmer. On one side, these can be a lifesaver during middle of the night diaper changes to prevent your little one from noticing their diaper is getting changed. On the other hand, will they expect a warm wipe EVERY time? I didn’t want to ANOTHER thing that I needed to have plugged in, so we skipped this. And I’ve got a kid who LOVES his diaper changed. With a cold wipe.

5 Baby Mittens // These prevent little ones from scratching their faces. I can attest that clipping the nails of a newborn is not only a little scary, but can easily be forgotten (we only attempted it when Declan was napping). These mittens can be pricey and realistically only used for a little while. A cheap substitute? Baby socks! I’ve also heard that covering babies’ hands isn’t great for their development. I’m absolutely no expert in that area, but we skipped these regardless.

6 Diaper Cream Brush // For me, this was another ‘in theory this is brilliant’, but in practice this totally got forgotten. Its purpose is to allow parents to apply diaper rash cream without getting it all over their hands. In reality I forgot to use it every time. Plus, I found it to be quicker to just use my hands and welll…. wipe them on my pants. #welcometoparenthood

7 Wet Dry Bag // So yes, these are probably super handy and yes, maybe I’ll buy one in the future. But for me, there’s so many other things I wanted to buy. So I used a large ziplock bag to store in my diaper bag instead.

8 Lots of Towels // Baby towels are soooo cute, so why wouldn’t you want lots? Between needing to do laundry often and the fact that we only bathed Declan once a week or so for the first couple month, we barely needed the TWO towel that we had.

9 Books // Yes, your child needs books. But similar to blankets, you WILL receive books whether you register for them or not. Now unlike blankets, I don’t believe in the concept of too many books. But you will likely receive lots of books from friends and family.

10 Merlin Suit & Larger Swaddles // Yes, swaddles can be your best friend in getting your little one to sleep at night. But and it’s a big but …. you don’t know when your child will stop using them. Once your kiddo starts rolling over, most swaddles and Merlin Suits can’t be used anymore (I do believe there’s special ones for older kids who roll). I had purchased a supply of 3-6 month swaddles and sure enough, Declan started rolling over at 3 months.

11 Newborn Shoes // Cute? Yes. Practical? Never. Deep down you know I’m right.

12 Diaper Changing Table // Lots of dressers nowaways have a diaper changing attachment that can be placed on them. Those are awesome. But a ‘this is specifically a diaper changing table’ has a VERY specific purpose and can only be used as such. Save some room in the nursery and use a dresser with a changing table on top!

13 Car Seat Canopy // this is another one of those things that looks brilliant. Anything that keeps a baby from waking up is typically top of my list. Joe & I took a safety class prior to Declan’s birth. We got all crazy on safety related topics from everything we learned from the class (mind you, we still had no idea how to change a diaper). Our instructor wasn’t a fan of these or any extra items in the back seat of the car. Plus, it just seemed like a muslin blanket (because remember, you’ll get lots of these!) would do the trick when your little one is in the stroller.

14 Back Seat Car Mirror // I was really surprised to hear our safety class instructor tell us these are a big no no. What?!?! What are you supposed to do if your kid is crying while driving? She then asked me specifically what I was planning on doing when I look through my mirror to see my newborn crying while driving on the highway. Hmmm. Ok good point. In a nutshell, the argument is that these mirrors are a huge distraction for the driver, which in turn is a HUGE safety concern.

15 Newborn Size Diapers // While you may need these, I found it wasn’t worth registering for something that I wasn’t pretty darn sure I was going to use. No one knows exactly what size your baby will be when they’re born or exactly how quickly they’ll grow during their first month.

16 Baby Detergent // The price of baby specific detergent just blows my mind.  Also, during the first couple months, life is crazy. Really crazy. The last thing I wanted to do was sort Declan’s laundry from ours. I was lucky to find time to do ANY laundry. We chose to wash ALL our clothes with perfume and dye free detergent. Problem solved.

17 Bassinet // On many baby lists, this would be considered an essential. But to provide another prospective, hear me out: Bassinets have an extremely short lifespan as babies will outgrow it quickly. Then you’re stuck finding storage space for it until the next baby comes along. Many bassinets aren’t as collapsible as you’d like so storage can be frustrating. Instead we opted to get a pack & play that has a bassinet attachment on top.

18 Infant Chairs // These are super cute and seem like such a reasonable thing to buy. Here’s the problem: there’s a super small window of time where babies actually use these. Now I fully admit, we own one. But I purchased it use from a local moms group for $10. I use it specifically to feed him his once a day couple scoops of pureed veggies for maybe 5 minutes a day. There’s also research that these chairs aren’t great for babies’ hip development. Again, no expert on that. But I wouldn’t buy one full price.

19 Shopping Cart Cover // So yes, grocery carts are probably completely disgusting and germ ridden. So these covers seem like a reasonable solution. The problem is, many of them don’t fit ALL grocery carts. Ugh. A diaper wipe and some blankets will do the job just as good (if not better).

20 Bottle Sterilizers // All the ones I found were big and bulky. Since they’re used often, it’s likely not an item that you’d want to take in and out of storage regularly. Instead, we found that simply boiling a large pot of water was actually quicker than using a bottle sterilizer. Plus as time went on, we sterilized our bottles less and less.

There it is. My ‘favorite’ items to NOT buy. Just remember, everyone is different. Every baby is different. But I do believe it’s worth it to hear from moms what they did NOT use.

Here's the 20 items that you really do not need to register for! Skip these items when you're putting together your baby registery.

Follow:
Share:

Each year of blogging there’s projects that I just knocked out of the park and others that end up admittedly flopping. While I never intentionally post a ‘bad’ project, sometimes what sounds brilliant at the beginning just ends up not working out long term.

Do you ever wonder how well those projects you see on Pinterest or in magazines end up? Does the blogger still use that solution that they claimed was the ultimate life saver?

The projects I post here on the blog are always ones I’m actually working on for my home. I rarely post a project just to get something up on the blog. (My friends always ask me what I’m going to do with the blog once I’ve organized every in of our home. ‘Move?’ I say???)

Some of these projects have truly been game changers for me, making life easier, more organized, and less stressful. Others ended up not working the way I planned. Since I’m big on setting goals and taking time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t, I decided to share my 2017 top 10 blog project wins & misses with you today!

So, I looked through this past year of blog posts and pulled out the projects that were the big winners of the year and ones that didn’t work at all.

Here’s my wins & misses for 2017:

Wins

These are my top 5 projects that have really stood the test of time this year. These are the ones that make me think ‘man, I’m a genius’. Don’t worry, I’ve got an equal number of misses to bring me back down to earth.

1 Fridge Liners | These were so incredibly easy and pretty much required NO skill at all. I used flimsy cheap plastic placemats (found at Target) as the liners. Making these really quick, I barely measured the space before trimming the placemats. I really believe this is one of the best beginner DIY organizing projects on my list.

DIY Fridge Liners (wins & misses)

2 Digital Christmas Card Storage | Being a professional organizer, I really hate to admit that I don’t like getting rid of things. Well, there I said it. That includes cards. I had STACKS of old Christmas cards from friends & family that I just didn’t want to part with. The problem was that these cards were taking up valuable space in our closet and realistically I never looked at them. To appease my desire to hold on to them with my need to clear up some space in one of our closets, I stored all these digitally.

digital Christmas card storage (wins & misses)

3 Foam Board Shelves | The white wire shelving in all our bedroom closets created some storage challenges for me, especially since I store a lot of non clothing type items in our closets. It’s pretty much impossible to store binders on wire shelving without something below. These wrapping paper covered foam boards were a quick fix that I honestly thought might be temporary. Well they’ve held up incredibly well over the year and I have no plans to change them.

foam board shelves (wins & misses)

4 Tax Preparation Process | Obviously, not a fun topic, right? Well that’s probably why this one ended up on the wins list. Each year Joe & I have the best intentions of being that couple that gives our tax docs to our accountant EARLY. You know the ones who get a discount on their taxes because they turn them in before anyone else?

Between job changes, a variety of investments, home purchases, and my blogging business, not only have our taxes gotten more complex, but so did accumulating all needed documents. The process and checklist we came up with has made a huge impact come January when we’re getting our taxes together. Yes, you read that right, JANUARY. We became ‘those people’.

Tax preparation process (wins & misses)

5 Front Porch Storage | The townhouse we moved in to a couple years back is a pretty good size for Seattle, but one thing we do not have is a garage. It was a concession we gave up while house hunting in a very expensive and competitive market. We got used to it pretty quickly and have been able to easily park our car right outside our house, but we do feel the effects of not being able to store items in a garage. You know the stuff you need to store, but don’t really want in the house? Lawn mower, bikes, outdoor kids’ toys, gardening supplies, etc.

We (well Joe) upcycled two plant containers in to storage bins to hold some of Reagan’s supplies, gardening tools and bike cleaning items (Joe’s a big cyclist). Essentially, it’s the stuff that I don’t want stored in the house because we only use them outside. This was a HUGE win for us.

outdoor porch storage (wins & misses)

Misses

Now on to the ones that just didn’t work the way they were intended. I had the best intentions with these 5 projects, but in the end, they just didn’t work the way I envisioned them. Live and learn.

1 Dog Paw Mitt | Living in rainy Seattle with a big Doberman, I thought this cleaning mitt would be a life saver. It just didn’t work for us. Because of Reagan’s size (she’s about 75 lbs), I sometimes need more than one small mitt. The other problem we encountered is that we just don’t have a great place to hang it. Cute idea, but just didn’t use as intended.

dog paw mit (wins & misses)

2 Painted Wooden Hangers | More than anything, I think these were just fun! But practically, I found myself not using them the way I thought I would. Yes, they brighten up our closet, which I LOVE. But I didn’t use color coded hangers for real organizational needs. I already had a system for keeping my closet organized and incorporating colored hangers ended up being unnecessary for my needs.

painted wooden hangers (wins & misses)

3 Organizing Baby Feeding Supplies | This one just makes me laugh every time I read it. Oh this new mom was a little naive in assuming that all the baby feeding supplies would stay in nicely organized labeled bins. Realistically as time went on what worked best for us was to have ONE drawer that we threw all feeding supplies in (sippy cups, spoons, formula, teething rings, bibs) and one small station on our counter for bottles. Sometimes I cringe when I open that drawer, but I know right now this is the best solution for me.

organizing baby feeding supplies (wins & misses)

4 Labeled Paint Cans | I’m actually really glad that I did this project. We had lots of paint cans left over from our builder, as well as paint cans from rooms I painted. So, I wanted to make sure these were appropriately labeled to make touch ups easy. I’m planning on updating these by using my label maker to label each can with the ROOM the paint belongs to. Then I’ll create a google doc that lists all the details (paint color, brand, etc). These paper-y labels just don’t seem to hold up long term, especially with paint spills.

labeled paint cans (wins & misses)

5 User Manual Binders | This binder is a HUGE improvement to what we used to have: warrantees and manuals scattered all over our house. Yet, the reality is that since putting this binder together, I’ve actually never used it. Also, as my husband pointed out, most of the user manuals can be found online. Plus, the binder is literally overflowing. A project that I’d like to do this winter is to get all this information stored online.

warenties & user manuals (wins & misses)

While it’s never fun to recount the quote on quote ‘failures’, it is a good reminder to me that creating solutions that work for your home and family do take some trial and error. Some of my projects were home runs from the start and others needed some tweaking to fit for our family. Even the ones that didn’t work at all helped me to figure out what WOULD work for our family.

I’m excited for the upcoming year as I’ve got lots of projects I want to tackle!

If you’re thinking of getting organized for the new year, take a look at some of my favorite affordable organization products here. I’m not a big believer of buying your way to organization, so I choose my products carefully.

See you in the new year!

 

 


 

 

Follow:
Share:

I appreciate everyone’s continued support for Crazy Organized: visiting the blog, reading my newsletters and following along on social media. All the support has kept my little business growing for the last couple years!

(PS… here’s the most popular blog post to date!)

I’m a huge fan of setting goals and spending some time reflecting on what worked and what didn’t. And it goes without saying that I love planning. So, in effort to get a head start on planning the blog for 2018, I want to get some feedback from all of you!

Each year between Christmas and New Year’s (you know that time where no one really knows what to do), I spend a good chunk of time prepping the blog for the following year: brain storming blog posts, updating the website, getting taxes ready (ugh), and making a list of priorities for the upcoming year.

I thought it would be a great time to pick your brain and find out a little bit more about your organization style & what you’re working on for the new year.

And as a thank you for filling out this super quick survey, you’ll be entered in to a raffle for a $50 Amazon gift card!

 

You can also click THIS link to take the survey. 

 

Stop by next week when I share the results! Until then, continue enjoying the holidays and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Follow:
Share: